The Chemistry Book
Site URL: http://www.thechembook.com
Site creation date: April 7, 2007
Software installed: WordPress 3.0. , BP 1.2.5, MediaWiki 1.15.1, Moodle 1.9.9+
TheChemBook.com would not be possible without BuddyPress and all of the wonderful help on this site.
TheChemBook started as a MediaWiki installation in April 2007. Each year students provide feedback for what they need or want on the site. During the Winter break of 2008-2009, a forum plugin for MediaWiki was installed (removed with BP installation). At the end of the 2009 school year, students suggested a better news area and so WordPress was installed on the front end. During the fall 2009, students asked for better uploading of files (and calendar) and so Moodle was installed. Approximately two weeks ago I asked the students why they were not interacting and discussing the wiki articles.
BuddyPress was installed about two weeks ago with a strong negative response. Many students complained about poor navigation, confusion for purpose of certain areas, and a strong dislike for the registration as well as login process. In response, a child theme was created to modify the navigation tabs, a landing page was created for explaining several areas of the site, and many plugins were installed to enhance the site.
Currently sixteen (16) plugins are installed. These include
Profile Field Setup
Live Chat (Ajax)
Restrict Group Creation
BuddyPress sitewide activity widget
oEmbed for BP
User Name Availability
What helped the most?
Critical to the success was learning how to use a child-theme and adding an image to the header, helping students understand the site was just like the “old” one….
The first plugin to help the site really grab students’ attention was the CubePoints integration. For some students, interaction occurred (occur) because they wanted extra credit assigned by the CubePoints.
The second plugin was the Profile Fields because it became necessary during registration to distinguish between my students and students in several other teachers’ classes.
Third, integration of login for MediaWiki and WP helped students who still rely on searching the wiki but wanted to interact on the front BP side.
Fourth, groups expanded as several kids realized that they could use the site to discuss their projects. I shut this off after a few kids abused the groups and were just joining everything – as well as creating dozens of groups (for no reason).
Some students are still struggling with navigation, however, many students have now stated the changes in tabs and addition of the sidebar sub-navigation helps tremendously. The big problem I see is that the MediaWiki installation doesn’t have the same exact navigation. I’m not good with CSS and cannot seem to change the drop down on MediaWiki to look like the BP navigation.
Removal of groups and the about page limited unnecessary pages but I think the CD avatar bubble (when it works with WP 3.0 and BP 1.2.4) will be a good add-on to find other members.
Some students do not understand the activity stream – and so I’ve added hints to the top of the tutoring page as well as the activity stream.
On Friday, several students explained that they use their iPhone to navigate the site. I haven’t checked the theme for mobility.
How can you help?
What would you suggest is changed so that more students become comfortable with the website? For example, students stated the site was “not inviting” because “there are too many words.” I’m not an artist – so maybe you have a suggestion on how to make the landing page “more inviting.”
Also, the site expansion to BP also got me to think chemistry students from other schools might take interest (don’t know if this is real) – and so a few groups were added for them too (including a college group). Maybe you have some ideas there …
Maybe you see a huge glitch – maybe something is terribly out of place and is leading to student confusion.
Thank you all for your positive (and negative) feedback. I look forward to enhancing the site even more!
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