Considering the popularity of blogs these days, it is no surprise that Baylor's newest solution for personal Web sites, WordPress MU, is a blogging application.
WordPress MU (the "MU" stands for "multi-user") is a variant of the popular WordPress blogging application and is the underlying architecture of WordPress.com itself. Harvard Law School also adopted WordPress MU as its faculty Web page application, so Baylor is in good company. But non-bloggers, fear not: Even though it is a choice application for many bloggers, WordPress MU represents a comprehensive solution for home pages because it also allows users to create traditional looking sites with HTML pages.
The implementation of this new home page tool comes at a critical time for Baylor's ITS and Electronic Library departments. The "www3" server that has housed personal homepages for students, faculty and staff for nearly a decade will gradually be retired in the coming months due to its age. As a result, the home page service will be retired from that server at the end of the Summer 2008 semester (student home pages have already been migrated elsewhere).
Since the early 1990s, Baylor provided Web space for faculty and staff, and anyone wishing to create a Web site had to know HTML and use file transfer protocol (FTP) software. Life was a little easier when HTML editors, like Dreamweaver, came along and allowed a somewhat simpler way to access and edit pages. However, it still was not easy to edit Web sites from home, and most people felt like they had to be a computer expert to make even minor changes to their sites.
"We found that people on campus had stopped creating home pages, so we knew we had to do it differently," Dr. Sandy Bennett, program manager for the Electronic Library's Online Teaching and Learning Services unit said. "People found it so difficult to make their own pages."
With these underlying issues, a search for a new way to provide home pages began. Bennett organized focus groups to determine what faculty members wanted in a new home page service. The overwhelming theme of those discussions came down to one thing: ease of use. Additionally, the Electronic Library Online Teaching and Learning Services unit began evaluating several open-source content management systems and ultimately settled on WordPress MU because of its user-friendliness and blogging capabilities. The final result is a home page service that can be accessed anywhere you have a computer, Internet browser and network connection and does not require the individual to be a computer guru.
From now until the end of summer, faculty and staff have the option of setting up new sites in WordPress MU. If you are happy doing HTML you may want to consider using BearSpace for your Web site. All current faculty and staff members and graduate students may use WordPress MU at http://homepages.baylor.edu. A Web site is automatically created for any eligible user who logs in with a Bear ID and password.