Create Interactive Classroom Pages with CourseForum
If you are a teacher or have any need for a classroom-based Wiki project, I have the perfect solution for you. I discovered CourseForum a few years back when I was looking for a web-based software that could help a peer create a web site for her class that could help students stay organized. There were a number of possibilities, but none of them as simple to use as CourseForum. With this web-based software students could:
- Get course information
- Contact the instructor
- Read or download lecture notes
- Get assignments
- Ask questions and get answers
- Communicate with other students
CourseForum is incredibly easy to "install" on Linux, Windows, Mac,? FreeBSD, or Solaris and can be accessed from any web browser. Let's take a look at this classroom software from the Linux point of view.
Getting and Installing
Since CourseForum even has its own server built in you can install CourseForum anywhere on a Linux machine. CourseForum comes in a single executable binary that starts and runs CourseForum on port 3455. So after you download the demo follow these steps (as either the root user or using sudo):
Untar the package into your servers' document root (i.e. /var/www/html for Fedora /var/www in Ubuntu)
Change into the newly created directory (courseforum-linux) and issue the command:
The CourseForum daemon will start and you can now point your browser to:
Where IP_OR_DOMAIN is either the IP address or domain the server is on.
This address will take you to the front page of CourseForum. The first thing you will need to do (before you can do anything else) is set an administrative password. Once you do that you can access the administration page and start building your course. NOTE: The demo is restricted to only a single course. If you purchase the full version you can create unlimited courses.
As you can see (in the image to the left) all administration tasks are taken care of in one window. There isn't a lot of admin work to do with this software which makes it an even better solution for busy instructors.
Some of the more important tasks your instructors will want to do are:
- Messages: This is really just the welcome message displayed on the front page of CourseForum.
- Custom Links: This isn't really what it sounds like. What this feature does is allow you to create custom? commands that can do any number of things like formatting or integrating third-party content. There is a good how-to page on the CourseForum site to illustrate how these are created.
- RSS/Email Notification: If you want to enable RSS feeds and/or email notification on your CourseForum site you will have to enter the information for your SMTP server here.
- Web Views: This allows you to create a read-only version of the CourseForum. Since the basis of CourseForum is a wiki, any registered user will be able to edit pages, so you will want to be ablel to serve up versions of pages (such as Syllaubus, lectures, etc) that are read-only for the public to view.
There is one administrative task I would highly recommend. When you create a new course you will have to administer that course independently of the site administration (In other words it has its own admin page). Within the course administration page you will want to take care of at least two things:
- Check the "Only course administrator can create projects" check box.
- Under the Require Password dropdown select "To edit pages" otherwise any registered user can edit your course pages.
And that's pretty much it. The rest of the tool works like a standard Wiki page.
If you have been looking for a tool to allow students (of any type) to not only stay current in your classroom but also be able to interact, CourseForum might very well be the solution for you. I have deployed it for a few teachers who have been very pleased with the results. It's remarkably seasy to install, simple to use, reliable, and it's a fairly cheap solution ($119.00 USD).Advertisement