Branching WordPress into 3 Distinct Environments – A Retrospective on WordPress at a Research University

The Instructional Technology Group [ITG] in the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning stood up its first multi-site instance of WordPress in 2007. In 2014 we decided to divide up our multisite instance into 3 distinct and differently managed multisite and single site instances. Discussion will include what we’ve learned from the separation of site types and the process of migrating a large multi-site instance to 3 different servers. I’ll show an overview and examples of sites on a Yale-hosted curricular multi-site instance as well as single installs of WordPress for academic research sites on a cloud-hosted solution. Description ITG works with faculty and students to provide a flexible platform for digital assignments, research sites, and robust content management sites. Plugins and themes help faculty and students take control of their digital space and create websites that present their ideas and solidify learning objectives. WordPress continues to be a reliable option for innovation in the use of technology in teaching, research, and professional development. We created Academic Commons in 2007 to provide a platform for courses, professional, group, lab, research and conference sites for the Yale community. As each of the types of sites emerged, they began to take on certain characteristics. What we’ve discovered is that course sites tend to be for registered students only and not shared broadly with the community. Lab sites most often are intranets for members of the lab to share results, protocols, and institutional knowledge. Sites for faculty and graduate professionals and public facing research sites are for public viewing but not usually collaboration. Students and staff are not publishing personal reflection sites, at least not on Yale servers. I’ll discuss what we’ve learned from our infrastructure choices and where we’d like to move in order to provide the community with a stable and flexible website authoring option using WordPress as the enabling platform.