SchoolPress: A WordPress-Powered Open Source App for Educators and Students

photo credit: Rob Shenk via - cc
photo credit: Rob Shenk via – cc

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:

start-class

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.

assignments

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.

17 Comments


  1. Thanks sarah for this excellent information….Really looking forward to use this awesome plugin.

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  2. This is awesome! Since more and more schools are using WordPress to power their sites, these types of apps are pure gold.

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  3. I love his Paid Memberships Pro plugin, so seeing how he’s using it here gives me a few ideas of my own!

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  4. We build a lot of school website in wordpress. I just set this up using the files provided. A reminder to others this is not ‘a plugin’, but a custom install of wordpress multisite with custom theme and multiple off the shelf and custom plugins. You’ll need a developer on hand to get it right. Will also investigate if learning management addons like sensei, wpcourseware etc can be added into the mix as well.

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    1. What do you call SchoolPress? The article refers to it being an “an app”, others have said “a platform”, it’s not “a plugin”, is it “a service”.

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      1. It is a custom wordpress multisite install with a custom theme, with buddypress plus several free/custom plugins added. The end result is a system that provides a variety of features specific to schools. You could rightly brand this package an ‘app’, but to traditionalists it’s a custom WordPress website, using elements and coding optimised for a specific market niche. This sort of thing has been successfully done before with WordPress technology in the Realty sector, where there are various ‘pre-packaged’ realty themes with custom plugins included.

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    2. Check whether you are referring to “wpschoolpress” plugin that is used to manage offline school academic activities online.

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      1. No, the project I mentioned was not a plugin but a full fledged MOOC. It never made it out of planning stages it looks like. It’s a different project from WP Schoolpress

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    1. Puneet – I was a big fan of BP Courseware, too but it seems to have fallen off the map, not sure what happened there.

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    2. Re BP courseware, yes development seems to have stopped a while back and it’s unclear how well it work s with buddypress v2. Other handy LMS plugins that could replace this as an addon include sensei and learndash, allowing quizzes, courses, units, tracking, certificates etc We’re told both work with multisite/buddypress, providing you have sufficient licenses purchased. Likely some additional development time will be needed though. This isn’t a simple ‘plug n play’ area, but requires considerable planning and testing. But compared with all the current alternatives for schools today, schoolpress is a major step forward in terms of costs, flexibility and ease of use.

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  5. Wow this is really neat! I have been looking at some plugins from WPMU Dev that do some of the same things.

    We are currently developing a blogging network, and hoping to have some pull for education on it as well. Great Lead, Great Article!

    Thanks!

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  6. This sounds very interesting. What differentiates this project from the Commons In A Box (http://commonsinabox.org/) project? I know that this is a Multisite+BP+customization vs. CiaB is a set of customized plug-ins including BP. On the surface they sound very similar.

    I am really more interested in how they compare in feature sets and functionality.

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  7. Very nice! Will this work on prexisting multisite that already has a couple dozen non related subsite on it or will I need to create another multisite istance on my server? Thanks

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  8. I think this app lacks for new features. While other school management plugin has much feature than it. :D

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