Drupal UAL project update

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The project aims to encourage and develop a new open support network for UAL staff and students to explore, experiment and share ideas and knowledge of using and developing Drupal ‘open source’ web environments and projects.

See network - http://process.arts.ac.uk/category/project-groups/drupal-ual

What we did (to date, project will continue until 2013):

Core team building:

We formed a starter group of UAL staff and students who are interested in developing a UAL Drupal network.

The core team included Grzesiek Sedek (Specialist technician at CCW) and Michele Durante 3rd year students at WCA and Chris Follows (DIAL project manager).

The core team arranged to meet regularly as often as possible on Friday mornings mainly at WCA but also at CCAD.

Project communication:

We set up on an online space on process.arts to cluster content and resources, communicate our project and to encourage debate and participation from a wider audience.

Information and resources - http://process.arts.ac.uk/category/project-groups/drupal-ual

Forum - http://process.arts.ac.uk/forum/2110

We received emails from staff and students interested in the project and from people outside UAL, the information on the site has also attracted may views.

“I understand DIAL run drop-in sessions on Drupal? How do I go about getting involved?”

I'm new to UAL (adult student)  - I'm very interested in Drupal.  I've been looking at Drupal Garden and it seems very interesting.  I'd like to learn more about Drupal so I can start building my own sites in the future as I plan to do some freelance
work etc.” 18/02/13”

“I'd be very interested in attending Drupal sessions if you're having them?” http://process.arts.ac.uk/content/professional-online-identities-poi-programme-2013#comment-3358

Project integration and sustainability

In order to embed the project at UAL and explore a possible sustainable future, we aligned the Drupal UAL Cop with the DIAL project (Digital integration into arts learning). Our aim was to try and extend the support (financial, technical and community) for the Drupal UAL Cop to help grow and establish the Cop long term. We did not want to start/grow a network, which was not a sustainable one as many participants need time to join and participate in such a network and to suddenly stop support/activity would be a great disappointment for most and could damage confidence in similar future collaborations. (There’s also a lot of growing interest in this area).

The Drupal UAL project gained £2000 extra funding from DIAL and will now continue to run until December 2013, possibly longer.

Benefits of this collaboration:

  • Extra funding
  • Longer/extended project timeframe
  • DIAL staff support the project development
  • Promotion and exposure
  • Curriculum Embedding through wider project integration
  • Mutually beneficial
  • Technical and server support (CLTAD)
  • Web site and online Cop stewarding support.
  • We could do more e.g. we supported MD to attend Drupal Con 2012 as a Drupal UAL.

Drupal UAL Drop in sessions

We arranged a series of Drupal drop in sessions across UAL, these were attended by a number of staff and students (around 5 per session). Participants were very interested in the Cop and many spent the full 2 hours discussing Drupal with the core team. All participants said there was a real need for such a support network at UAL and wanted more sessions in the future.

Drupal Sand pit

From the drop-in sessions we found a need to provide a vanilla ‘out the box’ sandpit Drupal environment. We set up a server and have been using this in the workshops, we are looking for a more sustainable method of delivering this and are looking to agreed with CLTAD use of their servers until the end of 2013.  

Challenges

  • Finding time to meet and organise events etc. is difficult.
  • Encouraging online participation is difficult, the face-to-face drop-in sessions were more successful means of collaboration and communication, but the online environment is useful for wider communication and clustering ideas and resources.
  • We needed a test Drupal web environment to help explain and demonstrate concepts and processes.
  • People contacting us were very interested in the project but found it difficult to find time to join the group sessions (more varied/location and session types needed and regular/frequent times)
  • Finding spaces at UAL that can accommodate the Cop sessions (we needed open digital spaces, with creative media applications)

Lessons learned

Planning ‘digital reliant’ events across UAL is very difficult, some colleges are not equipped or have the capacity to support ‘externally’ organised workshops as they are difficult to ‘fit in’. Some colleges had great digital facilities and people to help support the event (LCC and LCF in particular) some colleges had no suitable spaces at all for this kind of work, CCW being the least equipped.

The drop-in workshops were successfully received, although only students or staff who were available or confident enough to ‘drop in’ would participate. We are piloting an embed approach by integrating with the POI programme - http://process.arts.ac.uk/content/professional-online-identities-poi-programme-2013

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