“We’re basically building the Jetpack for Higher Ed,” said Blake Bertuccelli as he pitched me on the idea of Edupack, a project still in its early stages.
He and his team are looking for more advisors to join the eighth round of their once-monthly braintrust events. It is a project they began in November 2020, now coming to fruition. Feedback is crucial to pushing such undertakings out of the gate, and the team needs more of it.
Bertuccelli listed several focal points for the Edupack project:
- Onboarding: New campus users can set up a beautiful campus WordPress site with a few clicks.
- Archiving: Stale sites are automatically archived to save campus resources.
- Reporting: Accessibility, plagiarism, and resource usage can be accessed from the Edupack dashboard.
- Brand and Content Management: Approved Higher Ed content patterns and universal brand controls keep sites beautiful and consistent.
- Configuration Management: Cloud-controlled configuration settings means admins can control millions of sites from one place.
“Our onboarding form offers pre-built sites for users to start from,” said Bertuccelli. “So, if a scientist needs a new site for their lab, the scientist can select a pre-built lab site from our onboarding form then add in their unique content.”
Bertuccelli is Edupack’s CEO. He called himself a “forever learner” and is currently reading A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell.
“I paid for my Tulane education by coding WordPress themes,” said Bertuccelli. “After college, I founded one of New Orleans’ first WordPress dev shops (Decubing). A year ago, I presented on building a self-publishing platform with Multisite at WP Campus. The feedback was phenomenal, and two blokes from Birmingham offered to work on a plugin with me. A few months later, we launched Edupack’s MVP. Since then, folks from Harvard, Dartmouth, and about 17 other universities have been working with us to make WordPress an even better CMS for Higher Ed pros.”
The “two blokes” he is referring to are his co-founders, Nathan Monk and Matt Lees. They run a WordPress shop called SMILE. Monk is serving as Edupack’s CTO. Lees is the Chief Creative Officer — Bertuccelli called him “Lord of the UX.” Altogether, the three co-founders have over 30 years of experience working with Higher Ed and WordPress.
The Edupack team is making accessible content a priority, which is a primary issue for Higher Ed. The goal is to offer A11Y reports inside of the WordPress dashboard and tie them into publishing workflows. This would notify users of errors as they publish content.
“Our accessibility reports tie into another feature we are launching this month: site archiving,” said Bertuccelli. “Campus users graduate and often forget about their sites. Edupack sends a notification to a user if the site hasn’t been accessed, then adds an “archived” meta value to the site that super administrators can take action from.
“Devs often recode thousands of sites to add new Campus branding,” said Bertuccelli on the reasons behind Edupack. “Department budgets are drained on resources for stale sites. Institutions are sued over inaccessible content or misused branding.
“Edupack intends to automate website management so that Higher Ed pros can focus on supporting education.”
The following video is an introduction to Edupack:
Join the Braintrust Session
Every third Wednesday of each month, Edupack holds a “Braintrust” event. Bertuccelli says it is the best way to get involved. The session lasts for an hour over a Zoom video chat. The next event is scheduled for July 21, 10 am – 11 am (CDT).
Each session focuses on a single question. Next week’s question: “How can we enhance WordPress blocks for Higher Ed?”
“We’ll demo Edupack updates, brainstorm solutions for block enhancements, then wrap up with action steps for us to do by next month,” said Bertuccelli. “Folks who manage WordPress sites for global institutions and companies have attended our last seven braintrusts. Any Higher Ed pro is welcome!”
Those interested can also keep track of progress via the Edupack blog.
Pricing and the Future
There is currently no publicly available pricing list. The project’s FAQs page says the team is still tuning the costs, and Bertuccelli remained quiet on any hard numbers.
“Community colleges can’t afford tech used by bigger schools,” he said. “That’s not fair. Edupack will be priced so that every institution can afford the service. We haven’t thought about pricing beyond that.”
Universities that wish to get check out the project should schedule a demo from the site’s homepage.
Edupack has around 20 institutions serving as development partners and guiding the roadmap. The team invites new schools to join every few months. Currently, Tulane and the University of Gloucestershire are using Edupack. Harvard and Dartmouth should be next.
The service is limited to universities and colleges at the moment. However, the team would eventually like to expand across the education sector. After that, we will have to see.
“Edupack’s features can be applied to any industry where users run lots of sites,” said Bertuccelli. “I could see ad agencies using Edupack, hosting companies integrating our tools, and School Districts running their site network via Edupack and WordPress.”