We just began using BuddyPress for a K-12 District in Dearborn, Michigan. As a pilot, Dearborn public schools began using BuddyPress as a student ePortfolio/journal network about three weeks ago.

Our student blogging world is quickly growing – particularly at the high school and middle school level where several teachers were clamoring for a controlled and safe environment for students to blog. Keeping the blog world safe was easy to solve.

We used several plugins to in-effect create an environment where students and staff need to log in in order to participate or view any of the content generated in our blog world. With this same plugin we are also able to allow certain blogs to be “public” and both students and teachers can publish posts to a blog that can be read by all. This feature is useful when the teacher wants to have a classroom website where all parties can participate in sharing and building knowledge. Of course, the teacher is ultimately the one who approves the postings of students before they go “live” much like approving comments.

The response from students has overall been very positive. They enjoy having the freedom to create blogs on their own as well as take ownership of the learning process as they write and reflect on classroom topics. BuddyPress gives students the look and feel of other web tools they use outside of school so they feel at home using it.

As a reference, here are the main plugins that we used:

  • WPMU LDAP for authentication (We have over 18,000 students and several thousand staff members who all have access)
  • Site-wide Privacy Settings
  • Community Blogs for BuddyPress
  • Content Monitoring (Finds keywords and alerts site admin of bad content from blogs)

This post was written by Chris Kenniburg, a member of the BuddyPress developer community. If you’re interested in contributing to the BuddyPress blog, please log in and head to the “Write Post” link in the menu bar.