What is Rampages? Part Two

Image from page 776 of “The Ladies’ home journal” (1889) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Continuing on from Part One . . . I have way too many examples. If you read this blog often, you’ve probably seen most of these being born1 but this is my first attempt at organizing and a more cohesive structure around key categories/processes and all in one place. This isn’t my normal pattern as I’m more of a folksonomic structure guy rather than taxonomic.

What this has done is remind me of just how much work has been done in a relatively short time. I’ve only been here three years. Rampages is roughly three years old but wasn’t publicized initially and then had some rough growing pains. The last year or so I’ve been trying to convince people my department still exists . . . and still people find ways to do tons of amazing work. I’m not even including the stuff we do outside of WordPress.

I’m only scratching the surface but this post keeps getting longer and longer. I threw a bunch of the links here. Some will be duplicates but there’s plenty of additional sites as well.


Rampages supports faculty teaching the full continuum of courses at VCU- from augmenting traditional face-to-face courses to fully online courses and everything in between. What faculty want out of course sites varies greatly. Generally, faculty tend to get the most benefit from using rampages when they want to create a particular look and feel, create particular workflows, integrate student-created content in an active way, and/or cultivate an outside audience or community. The use of rampages may or may not include the use of Blackboard or other resources.


Expectations around user experience and multimedia design continue to rise. For interested faculty, control over this experience is of great importance and can have powerful pedagogical implications. It has particular ramificationsNo pun intended in disciplines that are focused on design and visual experience (art, graphic design, branding etc). These individuals may feel increased need for their courses to reflect their disciplinary expertise or feel additional desire to customize elements as a key element in the course experience.

  • Artfulness – The focus of this interdisciplinary course is the intersection of art and mindfulness and, as a result, required a very particular look and feel. In addition to an aesthetic, user interactions are customized to be unobtrusive and fluid. Additional custom integrations include a blackout poetry interface and a visual timer with an audio element.
  • What’s in a Museum? – An intercession course designed to replicate aspects of the look and feel of the ICA site. This particular customization took about an hour and was done with the faculty member present.
  • Socially Engaged Media – A course that has a very particular look and feel that represents the faculty member’s outlook on the course and live. From the very start this site emphasizes a different outlook. You don’t log in. You “genuflect to the machine.” Student works are not labeled assignments but operations.
  • Brand Center – This functional prototype helped get the go ahead for the Brand Center to pursue an online course this coming semester. It reflects a number of simple visual elements but ones chosen with intent and will become the initial framework for a functional course.
  • Sociological Theory – A course offered to both graduate and undergraduate students that was organized visually by the theorist. This created a unique experience for the users who participated on their own sites and had their content aggregated to the main site to create communal navigation.
  • RVArts.org – while currently empty, this site provides students the ability to create an interactive calendar of cultural events for the community. It includes reviews and provides a resource for the community.
  • Digital History – The site features a randomly generated map as a header, embedded Google Docs, and a workflow for content addition that takes advantage of the WordPress ‘Press This’ plugin.
  • Engineering 101 – An engaging and hands-on ENG 101 course with an interesting aesthetic.
  • Vienna – a course in Vienna for German. Previous years fused a photography and German language course.

Workflows/Student-Created Content

When working with faculty and students to devise efficient and powerful ways to get to the end goal is key. That end goal might be content that’s structured a particular way, it might be the integration of other resources, it might be a particular guided analysis . . . but having the flexibility to create the most direct path to support integrations and workflows toward a particular goal is a key function of Rampages.

Guided Content Creation

I don’t know how to say this well.
In Rampages we are able to build process to streamline and scaffold the gathering and analysis of diverse kinds of data (multimedia, taxonomic, numeric etc.) while simultaneously constructing multimedia content. That content is then available in a single place for reference, interaction, or for additional consideration as aggregate data. This process has incredible power and a huge spectrum of use cases across disciplines. We’ve built submission patterns for Race & Space, Bicycle Safety, graphic design, psychology, biology etc.

Additional guided content examples

  • Dichotomous Key – a visual interactive site which helps students learn about field botany while being guided through a dichotomous key. The end result is submitted to a larger database of James River Parks plants for community reference.
  • East End Cemetery – this site provides a form to guide the logging and analysis of grave markers in the East End Cemetery. Key information is captured including a photographic record of the marker which is then available to the public as a resource. The process is optimized for phone based submissions.
  • Text Set – Enables the creation of text sets for K12 teachers. A more sophisticated integration that allows the creation of units and population of those units with individual books.
  • School of World Studies Syllabus submission and archive – guided submission can have administrative value as well

Community and free-form student content examples

When giving students their own sites (in Rampages or elsewhere), it can be helpful to bring their work into a central location. That enables other students to find one another’s work easily through a common browsing interface. Seeing content together also makes the course feel more like a cohesive whole. Other mechanical functions like categorization, sorting, etc. can also happen at the aggregate level to encourage the discovery of connections between students and topics.

  • ADLT 641 – This education course brings together student work and divides the student content by tags for easy association with various assignments and topics.
  • Sociological Theory – A course offered to both graduate and undergraduate students with aggregate student work organized visually by the theorist. This created a unique experience for the users who participated on their own sites and had their content aggregated to the main site to create communal navigation and encourage connections between students pursuing work on the same theorists.
  • VCU Capital New Service – An aggregation page for the diverse work undertaken by students in this course across a really diverse range of platforms. This aggregation also enables the faculty member to highlight student work.
  • Community Engaged Research – An open course that enabled VCU and outside participants to aggregate their work centrally.
  • UNIV Thought Vectors – This site aggregated content from just under 200 sites representing six VCU sections (2 online, 2 f2f, 2 blended) in addition to content from a number of outside participants into a single site.
  • Collaborative Annotation of The Circle – a site that mapped hashtagged tweets and associated blog posts to the page numbers of a physical book. Each page of the book was associated with a hashtag combination and students could call out interesting elements or add commentary.

External Service Integrations

  • Ecological Techniques – This course was complex in that there was a grant need to create open science materials, it involved multiple faculty members, and there was a short timeframe for construction. We were able to use embedded Google Folders for quick and easy faculty-driven content additions in conjunction with a visual and interactive WordPress theme to create an engaging experience for students and outside participants.
  • Twitter Data Visualization – Collecting and archiving Twitter conversations by users and/or hashtags to build interactive ways to explore networked conversations
  • H5P – an interactive framework for developing interactive multimedia content – from timelines to quizzes intergrated with YouTube videos. This is an example for French language material.
  • ALT Lab II – While in the production phase at the moment, this site creates Slack channels, Google Docs, and gathers information from various services all on the creation of a post.

Various Projects and OER

We can do an amazing amount of things in Rampages and cater to the diverse needs of faculty. We can do this quickly and at scale. The list below is a small example of the special projects being housed on Rampages.

Faculty portfolios


A fairly large number of organizations, labs, and other entities use Rampages for their web presence. Here are a few.

1 Absent the increasing number of imaginary posts I seem to write in my head that don’t magically appear here. Got to work on that API/neuron integration.

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