Jeremy Smith's blog

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Open Source Content Managment Systems for Higher Ed

If I were evaluating Open Source CMSs for use in a Higher Ed. environment, here are the three I would look at with a brief description why.

Moodle - A Free, Open Source Course Management System for Online Learning

Moodle is specifically tailored for use as a CMS in Higher Ed. It integrates with Shibboleth and was designed around the different information architecture that exists at a University (in comparison to most commerical vendors who have only dealt with an company's IT architecture ). There is, also, a comparison of using Blackboard vs. Moodle and how well they enhance the learning environment. There is a commercial arm of Moodle who will do things like demos, installations, provide support, etc.


Drupal has been making some big inroads and is in use by a lot of Univerities; either in the form of weblogs (like or being used as the full-fledged CMS like at Purdue (there is a great presentation on the use of Drupal at Purdue located at


Don't know much about it, but it is from the Apache Foundation; and they tend to produce some pretty good software. The feature list is fairly complete. And, because it comes from Apache, you know it uses standards everywhere which is good (good for Pubcookie, good for Shibb, good for LDAP, good for all around). Plus, it has a plugin architecture (plugin architectures are good) based on Cocoon, a "web development framework built around the concepts of component-based web development and separation of concerns, ensuring that people can interact and collaborate on a project without stepping on each other toes."

And, there's also Mambo; but I don't know much about that one.

Regardless, not evaluating a couple of open source offerings in this arena would be foolhardy. With something like a CMS, having your hands tied would be extremely limiting.


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    Jeremy, I would be interested in why a content management system is being considered. I read this excellent article a few months ago that I agree with entirely:

    Why Content Management Systems Fail

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    Uh, you might have found that article via my blog, Aaron. I linked to it back on February 3rd in Better CMSs. The gist of that article is not that CMSes are useless. It's just that most of them suck. And, the one's the suck the most are the commercial one's. And, why we should do better.

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    That's really funny. I likely did find that link on your blog! =)

    Although I disagree with your interpretation on the gist of the article.

    "Content management is not a technology problem. If you’re having trouble managing the content on your Web site, it’s because you have an editorial process problem. Your public-facing Web site is a publication"


    "To succeed, you must separate content and process from software. Serving a Web site is a technology issue, so IT should manage it, right? Wrong. Would you let the printing press operator be involved in your editorial process? Of course not."

    I guess you could say I am opposed to CMS's for these reasons. I feel like it is a people issue and should be addressed by Marketing and Communications and not ITS.

    Sorry, I feel like I am always playing devil's advocate.

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    however, my point is invalid if the CMS is being implemented for different reasons. That is why I ask "why is a content management system is being considered?"

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    Sakai. It blows Blackboard out of the water.