After creating the forum we showed it at the twoler meeting. Some of the feedback we got from the meeting was that the forum should not follow the same layout as the university, but instead It should be unique and stand out so the students would be more keen to use it. We also created a Questionnaire to get valuable feedback from everyone:
Below is the questions and some answers we got:
1. Currently we structured the forum by campuses, do you like this structure?
The ordering of the campuses, why are they in that order? which campuses are larger, shouldn’t they be at the top?
You might wanna think about activities on each campus rather than looking so formal, something fun in each campus.
child boards? can you rename “child boards” to something else?
The name “Westminster Forum”, something a bit more catchy perhaps?
2. Should we stick with current theme we have for the forum?
No, it looks to formal and the uni marketing team will prob have a fit if they saw it. I liked the other theme you did, the black one with the funky colours. You wanna make it look less official uni property and a site done by the students, for the students.
3. Other than the current sections, what new sections would you like to be added on to the forum?
Have a look what other university forums have on theirs like http://www.londonstudent.co.uk/forums/index.php
they also have a UoW page http://www.londonstudent.co.uk/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=39
A Twoler competition section – a must for any UoW forum
4. Should we allow external users from outside the university gaining access to the forum?
Yes, because it will allow perspective students to ask questions…. that could be a new section?
No, because you’ll have more chances of people trying to flog stuff on there that shouldn’t be on there, other uni students poaching ideas etc etc.
However, if it’s gonna be available to everybody the chances you have more people using it because the content added will be greater.
5. What additional features would you want the forum to have?
Competition functionality so you can run a competitions if you wanted, or if anybody else wanted.
Can you embed youtube video’s or pictures etc on posts?
6. Some tutors/staff may have links from outside university should they allow student information to be shared for job opportunities?
Staff and tutors should be aware of what, if any, info can be shared about the students. Data protection acts come in to play etc etc
Don’t know what exactly you mean by the question, clarify please.
7. Suggest topic names, how they can be improved
Twoler competition topic and it should be right at the top of the forum
Forgot to mention that you have some competition in the form of UWSU facebook disscussion pages. There must be other places as well.
We changed the original header to have our own forum header as shown below:
The orginal logo when posting icons was also changed:
The button tab was changed to fit in with the colour of the university.
With the current drupal forum it had some major limitations that stopped us from making changes to it. Some of the limiations were;
- The graphic were very simple
- The child board would keep showing underneath the main topics that was a hassle
- The interface of the forum was not very appealing and did not follow the standards of most forums
- It did support any flash components and other stuff you would find in forums such as code tags. Some of these could be installed through modules but not all were available.
After some reseacrhing we found this module called SMF (Simple Machines Forum) Integration. This module allowed us to install a smf and intergrate it with drupal.
We had to first create my SQL database as shown on the screen shot below:
we then downloaded the SMF module from the website:
we then uploaded the SMF files into the domain were the website will be hosted to:
As the current design is a template created by another author we do not want to use their colour scheme and the logo, icons etc. We are trying to get the look and feel of the forum to go with the look for Westminster university. To do this we had to go inside the theme and layout settings and change the .CSS style sheets and customise it to our requirements. Below shows an example of this:
Today we continued with the forum, we experimented with drupal modules by installing and testing out various modules that were avaialable that enhanced the user experience and provided addidtional features. The following modules we installed are shown on below screen shot:
We added the content of the forum and added the sections for the forum. These will be topics that users can access and post their own comments to.
Below illustrates an example of adding the sections for the foum:
One of the problems we had was when structuring the content and creating the forum topics was that it did not structure the way we wanted it to. This is one of the limitations of drupal environment, for instance instead of showing the topic right underneath the main heading we wanted to it to be a link you clck on to access the content.
Below is the forum screenshot:
We managed to set up the FTP at uni with the help of Andrew at the meeting. He uploaded the content of drupal onto his domain so that we can so we can access it from uni. We then tried to login to the server through ftp access to upload our own content but was unsuccessful due to univeristy blocking access. Therefore we set up the configurations using a differnet ftp method provided by one of our own domain. We then started work on drupal, we experimented with the environment and got a feel of how drupal works.
We played around with the themes and modules and learnt how to implement and install them to the correct drupal folders. This was little tricky to do at first as some errors would appear when adding the modules it would say missing module. To resolve this issue we ensured that the module we downloaded were compatible with our drupal version, and that all supporting parts for the modules were installed. We downloaded some modules that we can test on the forum that will allow the drupal enviroment to behave more like a forum.
This was the advanced forum we used: http://drupal.org/project/advanced_forum
This transformed the current layout to a more modern forum layout. The advanced forum gave improvements over the original forum as it provided users useful information such as; which users are logged in, total user count, improved icons, improved GUI etc…
We tried out different themes to see how it will structure the content and the different graphics that it will give. We looked at youtube video to see tutorials on how to create our own themes. We are currently using the drupal colorize theme for temporary use, but in future will create our own one using CSS style sheets and photoshop.
Today we tried installing drupal using the uni pc but we could not get it working because we did not have enough permisson to run FTP or read/write onto the uni hardrives.
Therefore we made enquires at the I.T Technician Office to see if we can get space allocated onto the server, but they told us to go to the library help desk as we were told the library can allocate student space on their server. We then had to contact Junaid our supervisor to get permisson however as Junaid is on holiday we will have to speak to the project leader which is Iqbal Hussain who should be able to arrange this for us.
We managed to install the drupal files, but we cannot install the mysql database on the server.
Today we researched on different methods of installing drupal onto a web server. The methods that were found installing it on a local server such as WAMP for the windows or the MAMP for the Mac or web hosting website to upload the files.
below shows example of a WAMP
On wamp which is a popular combination of software for use as a web server. It makes use of “Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP” hence the name wamp. We need this software to help us upload the drupal configuration files so that we can then start on the forum.
MAMP is used for the mac and we looked at this apporach also to find out the differences between the two products. Below shows example of MAMP:
We propose to design a forum that can be integrated inside the blackboard and library. It will only be for educational purposes and so any socializing will not be permitted. Although there will be a chit chat area where students can discuss anything in general.
How will it work?
It will function like any normal forum by allowing university students to log in through the blackboard which will enable them to access the forum. The student will have the option to create threads and view discussions. The student will not need to sign up as it will be part of their university account.
Other than discussions, students can go view topics of their interests. When students are posting threads, they will have a choice of options such as uploading various types of media (text, images, videos, source files etc). It will allow students to not only upload but downloads will be permitted as well. Youtube videos can be embedded in the threads to show solution videos or tutorials etc.
We went onto this website: www.drupal.com It has useful features that allow users to create many web based applications. What we now need to do is find out how we are going to integrate it into Google apps environment. To do this we have been conducting some research on various websites and reading up on tutorials.
Our first meeting we discussed possible design layouts for the forum and how the content should be structured. We also went onto google moderator to look at the features it provided to the user, and ways of using the google moderator to be implemented into a forum.
One of the issues we faced with google moderator it comes with its own custom built interface that cannot be changed, and is limited to the things you can do inside that environment other than asking questions, replying to questions and voting.
Wheras drupal is more open and lets you customize more or less to your liking