A school exchange platform

In schools, the need to exchange between teachers and students is a daily reality.

An extranet is essential and WP Customer Area along with a few add-ons will allow to implement this easily: change of schedule for a class, document sharing for practical work, management of student groups .. . are all features offered by our solution.

Let’s see how to create a feature-complete and secure extranet through this case study.

Requirements

Role Tasks
Webmaster
  • Create user accounts
  • Create and manage groups of users
School staff
  • Publish material for teachers, students or all users
  • Send messages to a specific user, group of users or users with a given role (teachers or students, for example)
Teachers
  • Publish documents towards their own students (For the whole class or for a particular student)
  • Send messages to a particular student, to a group of students or to the staff
Students
  • Publish documents for their teachers or for the school staff
  • Send messages to their teachers or to the school staff

The basis

The base WP Customer Area plugin will allow the school to get a basic private area to publish content towards users. Be it files, or simple web pages. A good base would be to organise users according to their role. We would create 3 custom roles in WordPress: staff member, teacher and student.

However, in this particular case study, we are missing a few features that are fortunately available as separate add-ons: restricting what users can publish, messaging, user groups, etc. Let’s see which add-ons would be required and how they would be used.

Required add-ons

#1 – Managed groups

The managed groups add-on will be used create the classes: groups of students who are managed by a teacher. This will be used to restrict who the students can send messages or documents to.

#2 – Additional owner types

The additional owner types add-on will be used to allow publishing the documents or sending messages to multiple users at once, or to the custom roles we have defined. This will allow the staff to publish documents for teachers, student or even to the whole school by selecting all the roles.

#3 – Conversation

The conversations add-on will be used add messaging features to the private area.

#4 – Front-end publishing

The front-office publishing add-on will be used to allow publishing the documents from the website itself. With the basic plugin, documents are published from the WordPress back office and this is not as user friendly as getting the publishing done from the website page itself.

Essential for a more user-friendly approach!

#5 – Owner restrictions

The owner restrictions add-on is required to enforce some rules we have required: for example, students should only be able to send messages to the staff or to their teachers. Which means that they should not be able to select another student as the recipient of the message. Same goes with teachers who should be able to publish documents only to their own students or the staff, not other teachers or students.

Optional add-ons

#1 – Authentication forms

The authentication forms add-on can be used to integrate the login form into the private area. The free plugin simply uses the WordPress back office to handle this process. This add-on is not absolutely required in this case but is quite a nice improvement to the user experience, and as we will buy most add-ons, we may as well get a bundle and this add-on will come for free.

#2 – Notifications

The notifications add-on will be used to send emails when new documents or messages are available to users. This add-on is not absolutely required in this case, but as we will buy most add-ons, we may as well get a bundle and this add-on will come almost for free.

#3 – Search

For private areas referencing a lot of content, an Advanced search form will be very helpful to find precisely what you are looking for.

Cost

WP Customer Area is the best affordable solution to meet all the requirements outlined in this case study.

The whole set of extensions recommended above is available as the collaborative bundle for only €120. This is a €40 saving compared to the total price of each individual extension.