Jason Coleman, creator of the popular Paid Memberships Pro plugin, launched his new SchoolPress app in beta this week. SchoolPress is an open source WordPress-powered web app designed for educators who want to incorporate a virtual component into their online or offline classes.
The app is a demo that was created to showcase ideas from Building Web Apps with WordPress, Coleman’s recent book collaboration with Brian Messenlehner. It enables educators to easily start a class online with an option to restrict the students to invite-only:
Educators can add students, create assignments with due dates, and start discussions on a bbPress-powered forum. Students can then submit work via a text/file upload and teachers can track their progress.
SchoolPress is built with WordPress multisite, BuddyPress, Paid Memberships Pro, StartBox, Bootstrap, Font Awesome, and roughly a dozen plugins. The social aspect of the site provides the functionality that allows educators to initiate private/direct communication with students.
If you want to test the app, Coleman encourages you to only post real classes you intend to run at open.schoolpress.me. Otherwise, please use the testschool.schoolpress.me site. The app is still under development and Coleman plans to share more about building web apps with WordPress on his blog, in addition to the free course offered on the website.
The code for the app is available for anyone to use or recreate for specific requirements. It’s important to note that this isn’t a plug-and-play app, as noted in the documentation: “While this repository contains all of the code for the schoolpress.me site, getting a site like schoolpress.me setup using this codebase is not trivial.” The documentation includes detailed instructions for getting started, installing SchoolPress on your own server, and launching a new school site.
If you want to recreate SchoolPress for your own use, it’s going to require a bit of development expertise. The app is still in beta but it gives you a solid start on building your own open source learning management system with social networking features incorporated. Check out the code on GitHub and watch for updates as the app evolves.