I have moved our department external support site to a content management system, DNN (aka DotNetNuke – see an DNN overview on my dev blog). This move is from a previous IIS web hosting service with FrontPage extensions and a single user ID shared by all users. Using DNN has many advantages, among them;
- DNN is a free, open source platform running under asp.net
- very stable, used by many major corporations
- creation/maintenance of individual user IDs
- permissions security structure
- many modules that are easily install (and maintained)
- user-friendly editing of web pages (content and appearance)
- infrastructure for writing custom modules
Our hosting service is now Power DNN with GoDaddy for DNS. PowerDNN does the initial setup of the DNN software. Costs overall are minimal for hosting services (~$20/month for PowerDNN and $10/year for DNS by GoDaddy). An administrator is needed for site maintenance. Maintenance includes keeping DNN software up to date (a relatively simple process), maintaining user IDs, installing premium modules, backups and an overall understanding of the content management system.
Currently our Physics Dept DNN website hosts public views, student labs and secured pages to department discussions, wiki and lab clicker questions. We use this in conjunction to the university official dept site and Moodle for teaching courses. We purchased a couple of DNN premium modules, Evotiva Backup and Bring2Mind Document Exchange (a file management system). In addition we are running the free modules ActiveForum and dnnWiki. Also my custom module, SLO (Science Labs Online), is actively used for the first year labs.
A few things have not been moved to run under DNN. Our primary first year lab manual was well-developed as a standalone site. I found I could simply setup a separate sub-website outside of the DNN environment (using the PowerDNN admin panel) and then port our lab manual there. Also direct connections to the university registration system have not been straight forward.
In addition to DNN, we continue to use Microsoft Office 365 hosting service (free to educational institutions). Most all our lab internal information, notes, quizzes is stored in O365. We might eventually move all this to our new DNN site.