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Ed Carlevale: Drupal in Higher Ed

Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Drupal Nights

Davenport Conference Room
25 1st Street
Cambridge, MA 02141

Event Type: 

Drupal in Higher Ed: New hosting options from Pantheon and Acquia bring efficiency to academic web development.

New hosting options from Pantheon and Acquia solve several key problems in academic web development. They shift the base of operations from university-wide solutions and single-site development, introducing a new ecosystem to academic development that better represents the actual structure within universities. As importantly, they establish a hierarchy of roles so that communication teams can manage their sites at the level of straightforward configuration, with developers in the background providing support as needed.

Harvard's success with its Drupal-based Open Scholar distribution has shown us the tremendous need for academic sites of all kinds -- departments, research centers, conferences, clubs, portfolios, and so forth. But providing these sites has proven a stubborn challenge. The problem isn't so much getting the sites up and running as it is maintaining and extending them once they're live. This is what Acquia's Site Factory and Pantheon's Pantheon for EDU platforms solve so brilliantly, by allowing for a networked, collaborative interaction that at the same time maintains the independence of current sites. These platforms introduce efficiency and economy into academic development for the first time, freeing up our time to focus on other challenges. Academic web development is a sleeping giant. Once universities figure out an efficient, maintainable way to deliver these sites, the explosion of site development will become a bulwark of support for Drupal itself in the years to come.

Universities are undergoing enormous changes, driven by new structures and relationships. The federal government has given hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 15 or so years to establish new research centers, collaborative, multi-institutional, focused on establishing new areas of science that require new means of communication. These center-based websites have functionality requirements and communication goals that standard sites simply can't satisfy. You can see glimpses of that new functionality in Harvard's Open Scholar and in Phase 2's Open Atrium. But so much more is waiting to happen.

This presentation is relevant to communication teams working in Higher Ed and also development shops with Higher Ed clients. Acquia and Pantheon change the nature of academic development. They deliver power at the level of configuration to communication teams, while at the same making it possible for outside development shops to provide efficient, economical support to fleets of websites.

Ed Carlevale

Ed Carlevale is an independent Drupal developer working primarily in the academic and cleantech sectors. In a 23-year career at MIT he built large-scale sites for departments, research centers, and student groups, including Nobel Laureate Mario Molina and National Medal of Science recipient Penny Chisholm. He has been an active member of the local Drupal community, hosting the monthly meetups of the Boston Drupal Group from 2008-2014, contributing two chapters and book-wide editing to Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, and giving many presentations to introduce Drupal to the Boston academic community.