Drupal is an obvious choice for schools and online education platforms—it's a flexible content management platform built to handle a large number of users with different permissions, empowers collaboration, and organizes large volumes of content with ease.
But what sets it apart from the pack of other content management systems? Well, besides it being open source—a natural wfellspring for creativity and growth—Drupal features a deep reservoir of highly-refined software modules (the building blocks of a website) with the exact features necessary to create a sophisticated and dynamic education-focused website.
In addition to suites of modules specifically compiled to form education themes, Drupal features dozens of modules that, when combined, routinely form online education platforms customized to fit the specific needs of a school based on its individual characteristics. That's why Drupal is the CMS of choice for prestigious universities like Georgetown, Columbia University, University of Oxford, University of Oregon, and many others.
Let's take a look at 10* popular Drupal modules—selected from Drupal.org's list of the 100 most frequently employed modules—that feature functionality that makes them particularly suited for education-related websites.
*Overall rank is listed in parenthesis.
1. Views (2)
Views allows you to organize and show your content to the world in dozens of ways; this is great for education platforms because it allows you to do things like create lists displaying all class assignments a student has submitted, but only viewable to the student who is currently accessing the page (so it's contextual). It allows teachers and administrators to migrate everyday classroom tasks and routines online. And since Views is used by over half a million Drupal websites (it's the 2nd most popular module after all), you can bet it's pretty useful.
2. Wysiwig (14)
This fantastical sounding module stands for "What You See is What You Get." And the name is accurate: Wysiwig is an editor designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible, which means all content editors need to focus on is creating outstanding content—like blog posts, newsletters, news updates, staff and student bios, you name it.
3. Views Slideshow (20)
Powerpoint presentation it is not: Views Slideshow can be used to create a slideshow of any content (not just images) and can be integrated across your website—ensuring that your school or university's website always features beautiful and relevant content.
4. Features ( 22)
This module combines and streamlines the management of website features like a blog, a pressroom, image galleries, e-commerce stores, and more. All of these are near-necessities when it comes to running a dynamic online education platform, and the Features module trims off all the technical fat associated with administering such features and thereby saves all non-programmers numerous migraine headaches.
5. Panels (27)
This nifty module allows a site administrator to use a drag-and-drop content manager to create customized layouts that can display multiple types of content. Unlike most CMSs, with Drupal you can actively change and customize your content display—that's something you're not going to get with a basic CMS, which usually offers dull, static layouts. So not only does Panels help make Drupal an attractive option for schools with steady content streams and an eye for tasteful aesthetics, it's also a good tool for just about any website.
6. Media (30)
The Media module provides an extensible framework for managing files and multimedia assets. The Media module is particularly useful for online education platforms because it allows them to easily host a wide array of multimedia learning tools onsite, and the framework ensures that such assets won't clutter up site performance or disrupt other content.
7. Display Suite (44)
This module allows you to fully control how your content is displayed using a drag and drop interface without having to work your way through dozens of template files. Its templates are customized to fit your platform's unique branding and aesthetics, so your content is always consistent.
8. Calendar (50)
It's exactly what it sounds like, but it's still incredibly useful—especially for schools and universities, two outfits are known for being very dependent on knowing the date. And Drupal's Calendar module provides users with more than just a static embedded image of whichever month it happens to be; it integrates with content editing and layout modules to create a customizable resource for compiling all school events, holidays, and make-up snow-days.
9. Insert (80)
10. Simplenews (97)
Developed specifically for publishing and delivering newsletters to a list of subscribers, this module provides schools and universities with a superior way to reach out and engage with students, parents, and donors.
Now, these ten may be some of the most frequently used modules that coincidentally work very well for education-related websites, but Drupal also offers numerous modules that are less popular overall (remember, not all websites are education-focused) but happen to work exceedingly well for online education websites. Interested in learning more? Check out these school and university websites that we've built using Drupal. Or drop us a comment below or an email.
- Higher-ed & Schools