Conference Session

WebLion: Bringing Open Sources Practices to the Educational Enterprise

By: Mike Halm/Christian Vinten-Johansen

About Mike Halm/Christian Vinten-Johansen

Michael J. Halm, is Senior Strategist for e-Learning at Penn State University and co-conspirator of the WebLion Project. Christian Vinten-Johansen, is Chief Technical Lead, developer and co-conspirator for the WebLion Project. Both have promoted open source technologies and Agile development within Penn State and developed a successful open source initiative that crosses the entire enterprise. Both are frequent speakers and evangelists for Open Source software development within the HE institutions.

About the session

Statement: Effective Web content management remains a painful problem for many institutions of higher education. Old methods and tools used in maintaining static web sites are costly and inefficient, and the quality of content is often poor. Content management systems (CMS) offer solutions, but do you buy or build? And how to get buy-in from independent-minded academic units? How are new systems and capabilities integrated with the CMS? Description: After a two-year evaluation process, the WebLion project was formed as an initiative of Penn State's Information Technology Services in partnership with IT staff several academic units. It offers a Web content management solution that is open source, customized to comply with Penn State's policy for Web design and accessibility, and integrates applications designed for the general needs of educational institutions as well the specific needs of Penn State's security and network infrastructure. This solution is highly flexible and allows for the integration of new open source products to add functionality and web services as they become available. This session will explore the process of how the choices were made to develop an open source solution, the formation and maintenance of partnerships with other units, the development process for building a strong community, the interoperability and integration strategy, and the real potential for future partnerships with other institutions outside Penn State.

Outcome: From humble beginnings of a core staff of three, the project, in its two years of life, now has approximately 100 developers, system administrators and designers representing four colleges and numerous academic units. Partners develop or adapt existing open source into solutions that are shared with other partners. Partners also have developed social networks that are used to share solutions, develop documentation and collaborate with others. Success in developing an open source solution designed for higher education has lead to a growing interest outside Penn State in the project management process and the WebLion implementation.

Importance/relevance: The agile, open source project management model, the use of an open source code base, and the partnership structure are responsible for the rapid adoption and overall success of the WebLion project. This model can be replicated at other institutions either by emulation within their own institution, or by collaboration with the WebLion project in a multi-institution project to further develop content management applications.

Suggested Audience Decision makers, project managers, and stakeholders of web content management systems, and anyone interested in development and management of open source software.

This is a Talk (45 min)