The C word and WordPress Multi-User

How much control do we have over what students can do on a WordPress Multi_user (WPMU) site? This is cropping up in a few conversations, so I thought it worth providing a summary (based on the WordPress documentation site) now that we’ve got some experience.

Our guiding principle here is that we will allow as much autonomy as possible to promote intrinsic motivation.

As Ryan and Deci put it:

The significance of autonomy versus control for the maintenance of intrinsic motivation has been clearly observed in studies of classroom learning. For example, several studies have shown that autonomy-supportive (in contrast
to controlling) teachers catalyze in their students greater intrinsic motivation, curiosity, and the desire for challenge. Link

For any individual blog, a registered user can be given one of 5 roles. These are:

  • Administrator – Somebody who has access to all the administration features
  • Editor – Somebody who can publish posts, manage posts as well as manage other people’s posts, etc.
  • Author – Somebody who can publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – Somebody who can write and manage their posts but not publish posts
  • Subscriber – Somebody who can read comments/comment/receive news letters, etc.

If you’ve an account on a WPMU system, you can have different roles in different blogs. For example, a student could be the Administrator of their own Personal Learning Plan or Extreme Learning Project blog – like Craig with his blog – yet be limited to an Author role on a Maths class Scribe Post blog, such as this one (run by North Berwick’s S3 Credit class). The Editor role might be used for a Newsletter editor to enable her to correct or delete out-of-date posts written by other authors.

The Contributor role can be used to prevent a student publishing Posts directly: someone with more rights, such as the teacher, will need to do that for them. This may be appropriate with some young children in large classes if there’s difficulty in checking Posts at the time – but remember that the student – if logged in – will be able to post Comments directly to any blog. We don’t envisage that the Subscriber role will be much used.

Published by

David Gilmour

Learning Technologist East Lothian Council