Lynda Tutorial Link in Rampages Dashboard Plugin

Nothing fancy here but maybe useful to someone. Based on a faculty member request, I took the WP widget API default code and created a little dashboard widget to put a link to the Lynda.com WordPress tutorials on every dashboard page (network activated). Can’t hurt and I think I’ll end up expanding this into a messaging system so I can publish “breaking” news and other useful tips.

WordPress/Google Spreadsheet Chimera Community

flickr photo shared by NASA on The Commons with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Many professors don’t want students having to go into the backend of WordPress. Imagine also that you’re dealing with many hundreds of students and don’t want the hassle of people asking you about password resets or any other attendant drama. You’re willing to give up some things in return for as much simplicity as possible. You’ve got a few options for front-end editors. Gravity Forms is one I use all the time but it doesn’t give you the full WP editor which is pretty handy if you’re asking students to write posts of any complexity. AccessPress Anonymous Post Pro Forms is another option that I used on this project. It’s worth checking out and I think there’s a free version as well. Alan and Brian’s SPLOT tools are also worth checking out if your actions fit into those patterns consistently. That helps address one problem but it opens up a few other issues. We’ve got lots of students and lots of individual sections. How do we group them into courses or teams? How do we aggregate individual student’s work to their own page if they aren’t authors (in the WordPress sense)? Can we do that without drama? After a few false starts, I think this works […]

Set Default Gravity Forms From Email

On rampages we only have the ability to send out emails from rampages.us addresses. This caused a bit of confusion for me when our Gravity Forms email notifications stopped working.1 It seems like Gravity Forms now defaults to send emails from the form admin’s email address. In our case, that’s a vcu.edu domain . . . . which causes the emails to fail. You can see that when you go to Settings>Notifications for a form. The From Email now says {admin_email}. We have Gravity Forms network activated on rampages which means it’s live on all 17,000+ sites. Granted, I have no real idea how many people use it but I didn’t relish the thought of how many questions this might cause. Luckily, Gravity Forms has a way to take care of this and I was able to write a tiny, little, itsy, bitsy plugin to set the from email for all our sites. Problem solved. 1 Tim, from the ever-reliable Reclaim Hosting guided me back to sanity after I tried to make this much harder than it needed to be.

Portfolio Work – Interweaving the Personal API

I know. The title is pure click-bait. That’s part of why this blog is so wildly popular.1 I’ve been building a new portfolio site2 and I think some of this is kind of interesting even if it sounds boring. There are a few different goals in play. One challenge is to create a site that stays up to date with minimal work on my end. It’s a parallel of the small-pieces-loosely-joined mentality. I want tiny-actions-over-time (from the aforementioned small pieces) rather than widely-spaced-herculean efforts. I’m also trying to make sure that it fits in well with my current workflow and that I’m capturing the work I do elsewhere in ways that make sense. Another focus is to keep any work highly portable. I’ve had to re-enter data a number of times as I’ve migrated and I don’t want to do that any more. That’s going to be made possible mainly through some new API options and by working on my API/JSON, JavaScript skills. I’ll probably have to do chunks of it over anyway but I like to pretend I wont. I’ve got a ways to go but I’ve made some decent progress. The basic template/visuals are handled by Bootstrap. I’ve also got some simple Angular views, Timeline JS, JSON from Google sheets, WordPress WP Rest API v2, and Pinboard’s API. […]

Import Blackboard Common Cartridge into WordPress

flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) It’s far from pretty and I don’t know how well it’ll play with other courses but . . . here’s the plugin I used to import a few Blackboard course exports into WordPress. It’s nothing magical but I think it should get you most of the WordPress kind of content on courses sort of like these. It won’t pull in quizzes or anything like that and I make no attempt to map user/user roles. I just want the page content, discussion prompts, that sort of stuff. I opted to pull this content in as posts and tag them (as opposed to the Moodle import where I used Pages and parent/child relationships). It just seemed like the right path based on the content. In any case, here’s the code. It’s super ugly as I adapted some stuff I was playing around with during my Moodle attempts. It loads the xml file twice and probably does other things that will make programmers sad but honestly I was bored with it and didn’t feel it was worth re-writing. I just wanted it to work. It may also be a terrible example to set as I’m not sure I want people importing their Blackboard courses into WordPress. I do know […]

Importing Moodle into WordPress

flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) A week or two ago some faculty members asked me about getting the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) content out of the Moodle hosted at Vanderbilt and into WordPress. I figured I could do this. Someone might even have done it already. If not, I figured the export options would have to put out something fairly straightforward that could be parsed. In any case, the majority of my learning comes from committing to things I don’t quite know how to do. Turns out I couldn’t find anyone who’d done this before. I went a variety of different routes as I attempted not to do the work myself. First, I exported the course in the two different flavors that were available (SCORM1/Course Cartridge and Moodle backup). Just for fun I tried a few different flavors of import plugins . . . Edwiser Bridge might have worked but required a higher level of connection to Moodle than I felt like dealing with and seemed more focused on integration rather than migration, Simple CSV Importer and WP All Import both failed to do what I needed despite pushing XML around a bit to try to make it work. So with all the ready-made solutions exhausted2 I turned to […]

FI Video Collective – The Project & Theme

The FI Video Collective is a really fun project that Molly is leading centered around VCU’s common book. This spring semester, Focused Inquiry faculty are teaming up with ALT Lab to offer a unique creative opportunity to UNIV 112 students. This project is inspired by the artistic style of the winter reading selection, Lauren Redniss’ “Radioactive,” in combination with crowdsourced video projects like Hit Record’s “First Stars I See Tonight” and The Johnny Cash Project. The end product will be a single video featuring a story collectively written and created by as many UNIV 112 students as are interested in participating. The video will premiere at the FI Expo on May 4th. My summary, in case you are not a video person (really, just watch it), is imagine a bunch of faculty and students collaboratively creating a video with options for participation ranging from script writing and acting, to creating music, to drawing a lamp. Lots of access points for people who like to do different things all leading to a massive collaborative project. The Theme Part While nothing like driving the project1, I had a couple challenges on the web side of things. We needed a way to say what media was needed from students and to associate it with the script/narrative so that’d it make sense to anyone dropping in. Additionally […]

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Password Protect Posts Created via Gravity Forms

A quick little plugin that sets the password for posts created via Gravity Forms. This came about as the result of a faculty request today. In this case it’ll grab the first form field and use that for the password. You could hardcode it into the plugin itself but I thought this gave a bit more flexibility. With this option you can make that field something that the user could set or you can make it hidden and set it consistently for all submissions. Simple but maybe handy for someone else.

All the Plugins – Custom Fitted?

Are you custom-made, custom-paid, or you just custom-fitted? –Ludacris I finally got a look at all the plugins in use across our install. I ended up having to incrementally push the data to a CSV file. It’s not a beautiful and I guess I could just as easily create a table and update that . . . but it works. The top 25 most installed plugins are in the chart below. Even prior to seeing the data I realized that the vast majority don’t turn on any plugins. I just didn’t quite realize how vast that majority was. That certainly makes dropping plugins easier to simplify management but it also points out some areas where we can really improve. As Tim Owens pointed out, it may be that students/faculty simply aren’t used to plugins existing. It makes sense. You don’t have anything like plugins in most of today’s social media tools. You get what you get with almost all of the major players. Even wp.com lacks a plugin structure on the free accounts. Instagram won’t even let you use a browser at all. People may have become accustomed to acceptance with their online tools. This kind of passivity<footnote>That’s not meant as a judgement. Fatalism doesn’t work either but it’s something like that.</footnote> is certainly something to consider when thinking through the student role in […]