Drupal in Higher Education

Why are University and Colleges using Drupal for their websites?

The recent years have seen the adoption of Drupal-powered websites in educational or institutional websites. Drupal has served the needs of these websites because it has the ability to power websites hosting millions of pages and requesters. One major characteristic of University or College websites is the numerous pages with each page highlighting different courses or departments present in the particular institution. This is where Drupal comes in handy since its serves, hosts and powers the demanding websites.

So how can Universities and Colleges make better use of Drupal for their websites?

Below are some suggestions of how universities and college can manipulate Drupal to make better use of their websites.

1 - Use Drupal multi-site function

Most of the websites owned by Universities or Colleges are multi-faceted. Through the use of websites, these institutions can provide the different departments and units, media to communicate with students, the staff or even the public.

Through the use of the multi-site function of Drupal, the institution can keep smaller independent websites which reduces administrative overhead centralization and influences the control an ownership of smaller websites by other units.

2 - Workflow Modules such as Workbench

This Drupal module and feature allows Universities and Colleges to use it as a publication process management tool without limiting its use as a published content management tool. As such, people can create inboxes for specific users to avoid performance of tasks until they are ready to be performed such as copy-editing.

3 - Content and User Access Control

With this feature, the website can grant group privileges to groups of users instead of giving specific privileges to specific users. This can come quite handy in University websites where the teaching staff requires different privileges compared to the students or other visitors. With this privilege, users can take responsibility for any tasks such as creating, editing or content management without really involving a centralized web development office.

4 - Effective Use of the Taxonomy system

The Drupal taxonomy system allows any website content to be classified into groups. It also allows design and deploying of taxonomy systems per-content basis. Basically this means that the content on the site will be well-categorized or organized to enable ease of access by the visitors or users.

5 - Use the Annotations & Book Module to facilitate internal collaboration

Apart from the blogs, pamphlets or other forward content, Drupal also manages internal content such as handbooks, procedural guides, research collaborations for faculty and students. With this powerful feature, Drupal is actually the best tool for internal collaboration and research for university and college websites.

6 - Use LDAP and CAS (central authentication service) integration to make Drupal work more effectively with Existing Login Systems:

Colleges and universities often have existing authentication and single sign-in systems for email or other internal accounts, and Drupal is able to integrate with these solutions via LDAP and CAS. This means the system is more secure and more usable for users who only have to keep track of one account.

In conclusion, with the use of the above mentioned Drupal features, universities and websites can actually improve their websites and make them better for their users.

Upcoming and related article of Drupal in Higher Education:

  • How to tell if your Universtiy is using Drupal? How to tell if your College is using Drupal? (to be published next Tuesday)
  • Drupal in Higher Education - Part 2, where we list more tools, that will help your insitution. (to be published later this month)

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