Rowan Global Learning & Partnership Website
In addition to my instructional design and technical support duties, my supervisor and I were responsible for the implementation of the Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships website in 2014 (www.rowanu.com) using Drupal, which is a content-management system for websites. We created a dynamic, database driven website using Drupal’s content types, taxonomies and views, which was a considerable task.
The previous website was built entirely using static web pages and was not mobile friendly. Because of Rowan Global’s continuing growth and constantly changing content, we moved away from static pages of information wherever we could and replaced it with pages that load dynamically from a database. The Division of Marketing & Enrollment Management at Rowan Global was responsible for the content and organization of the website. Simply speaking, my supervisor and I were tasked with organizing all of the content into a database on the back-end, and then linking it together accordingly on the front-end, which is the website users see. I was also responsible for the look and feel of the content on the front-end, including ensuring it looks great on any device including computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
For example, each of the academic programs are categorized or tagged with a level (i.e. Undergraduate, Masters), area of study (i.e. Business, Education), delivery format (i.e. Online, hybrid), and so on. Based on these categories, we created views in Drupal that pull specific data based on what needs to be shown on a particular page. For example, on the Graduate Tuition page (http://rowanu.com/graduate/tuition), we set the Drupal view to only show programs categorized as “graduate,” along with the program’s title, tuition rate, tuition fees and semester hours, all of which is presented in a searchable table. However, on the Academic Programs page (http://rowanu.com/programs), we set the Drupal view to show all programs and their title, level, area of study, delivery format and total semester hours. In other words, using views in Drupal, we can pull content from the database and present it to the end-user in various formats such as a table, list, gallery and so on.
Additionally, a database driven website makes updating content faster and easier. For example, we made the Academic Programs page (http://rowanu.com/programs) using a Drupal view so that it’s searchable and filterable. Also, because it’s database driven, if a title of a program changes, it is changed in one place and propagated automatically wherever else the information is linked to on the website.
- Database Driven Website: A web page that grabs information from a database, and inserts that information into the web page each time it is loaded.
- Drupal Content Type: A group of fields that are stored in the database and represent a common purpose. Content types might include an article which has a title, body, and featured image; or a calendar event which has a title, start date, end date, and location. You may create one or many content types on your site.
- Drupal Taxonomy: A means by which content may be categorized. Content may be assigned one or more taxonomy terms that can then be used to select content for display.
- Drupal View: A contributed module that provides the de facto standard means for extracting content from the database and displaying it.
Note: The College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE) was rebranded Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships in 2014. Since I started at Rowan in 2009, this is the third iteration of the CGCE’s website that I have worked on.