Drupal for Education and E-Learning is now available from Packt Publishing. This book covers Drupal 6, and describes how to build a community site to support teaching and learning. This book is designed for people new to Drupal, with no prior development experience. The hands-on, step-by-step instructions guide you through installing Drupal, configuring contributed modules and themes, and working with some of Drupal’s most useful and powerful modules, including CCK, Views, and Organic Groups. The book also covers site maintenance, upgrades, and backups – these essential steps, while not as fun as site building, are essential for keeping your site and data secure.

This book is written with the needs of educational users in mind, but the information in this book can be useful for site administrators, or for people looking to build a community/social networking site in Drupal outside of education as well.

For people new to Drupal, the book includes details on:

  • Drupal terminology;
  • User creation;
  • Role based access control;
  • Installing modules and themes;
  • Using taxonomy to categorize posts
  • Backing up and upgrading your site.

For more experienced Drupallers, the book covers:

  • Using CCK to extend content types -- instructions cover sharing media, images, links, text, and files;
  • An overview of Views 2, including adding new views, using the new access control mechanisms of Views 2, configuring multiple displays from a single view, and cloning and modifying existing views;
  • An overview of Organic Groups, including instructions on how to use groups to support informal and formal learning;
  • Extending user profiles to support connections between users;
  • Using the menu and block system to simplify and streamline the navigation of your site.

For more specifics on information covered in this book, read through the Table of Contents.

Thanks and Acknowledgments

This book could not have been written without the support and help of fellow primates Marc Poris and Jeff Graham -- their feedback on the in-progress text helped immeasurably. The technical editiing and feedback of Peter Wolanin, Joel Farris, and Michael Peacock also helped drive the final revisions, and their work and input helped hone the final version of the text.

Additionally, the team of people at Packt worked tirelessly to help me bring this book out. In particular, David Barnes, Lata Basantani, and Swapna Verlekar put in countless hours helping this text evolve. Packt Publishing also contributes a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book to the Drupal Association.

About the author

Bill Fitzgerald worked in education for 16 years before starting FunnyMonkey with Marc Poris in 2004. Bill has been active in the Drupal community since early 2005. As part of FunnyMonkey, Bill has helped develop sites for a variety of different learning organizations ranging from Elementary schools to K12 schools to University-level programs to Adult and Continuing Education programs. Bill also started the Drupal in Education group on groups.drupal.org.


SamRose’s picture

lolfreeman’s picture



kyle_mathews’s picture

Congratulations Bill! The book looks awesome and will be a big help to members of the Drupal education community.
Kyle Mathews

dugh’s picture

Nice job, but it seems like so much more could be discussed - the majority of the focus is on blogs, assignments, podcasting, and drupal configuration.

I was a bit surprised that there was nothing about wikis (wikitools) or surveys (webform), and that everything was done with custom cck types and fields instead of using simpler modules, such as the built-in blog module. It is possible to show images/podcasts/videos in regular blog posts. And FCKEditor is mentioned, but not IMCE for easy image and file uploading.

I wish more people knew about drush, too, it makes installing and upgrading modules 100x easier.

bonobo’s picture

One of the major challenges was what to include, and what to exclude -- and further complicating that challenge was the D5 to D6 switch (and much of this book was written during the transitional time b/w D5 and D6). This became particularly relevant given the book's focus: people new(er) to Drupal.

WRT using CCK vs "simpler" modules, I made the call to use the audio and image modules over (respectively) jquery media/filefield and filefield/imagefield/imagecache/imageapi for reasons of simplicity. Both image and audio have sensible defaults, and have been maintained efficiently over the last few years. But, what to include and what to exclude was a tough choice, because Drupal never has just one way of doing things.

The wiki question definitely raises this issue, as the definitions of what constitute "essential" wiki functionality can vary from site to site. Among the options: the wikitools/diff/freelinking/pearwiki/flexifilter/talk blend (as recently described at http://starbowconsulting.com/node/111 ), to creating group editing via permissions, to using OG to create "wiki" style content types. All of these options are viable, with the first option coming as close as possible to a Mediawiki clone with Drupal, and the last option providing a lightweight wiki functionality within groups. Given that wiki functionality is evolving, I didn't feel comfortable laying out one "best" solution.

But I definitely hear you -- the joy of using Drupal comes from the array of options. Part of what I wanted to accomplish in this book was to establish some fairly "timeless" (in the sense that these modules are central to building out functionality, and will stay stable and reliable for the D6 lifecycle and beyond) fundamentals: CCK, Views, and Organic Groups. Using the options in these modules will help people new to Drupal really get started building feature-rich sites. But in choosing what to include vs what to leave out, we needed to make some difficult decisions that attempted to balance ease of use, range of functionality, and how well a solution would hold up over time.

And with that said, I definitely wished I had the space to highlight the feedapi, and some of the uses of aggregation. But, in the interest of keeping the length of the book manageable (it's just under 400 pages) and geared toward newer users I didn't include these details.

So, I definitely agree with you -- there is definitely more to cover -- but this book provides a starting point for users new to Drupal, and for users looking to get more from their existing installs. I hope this helps explain some of what I was thinking with the choices about what got covered, and what got left out.



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nomad411’s picture

Thanks a lot for your comment, I am now using drush.. :)

And also expecting the book any week now..

bezprym@drupal.org’s picture


Albert8752’s picture

Great niche market. Is there a sample chapter/preview available?

Offline drupal api in iPhone

iimitk’s picture

There is.
"Creativity is knowing how to hide your resources" - Albert Einstein.

jonnalarajkumar’s picture


I really liked this site.I was searching for community sites, I got a good result from yours Site and also purchased Drupal 6.


iimitk’s picture

and also purchased Drupal 6.

Hahaha.. what a maverick!

"Creativity is knowing how to hide your resources" - Albert Einstein.

gmak’s picture

Just received my copy!

Haven't gotten too far into it yet, but from skipping around and looking at things, I feel like I made an excellent purchase. Well done Bill (and the rest of the Monkeys!)

matstar’s picture

great book, very intresting.

rtaytug’s picture

i think so... thanks

Tolga - Kız Yurtları

3lite’s picture

Is there a point in buy Drupal books when Drupal changes so fast? [Good thing]

gmak’s picture

I'd say yes. While many of the components of Drupal change rapidly, the core seems to be slowing down in changes (and I think this is a good thing). Core can remain stable while modules can change.

Additionally, for anyone who is developing a site for production, there will be a tendency to find a set of modules that work and stay with them. I only upgrade things on production sites if there is a specific security issue or bug-fix that I need.

A good book, like 'Drupal for Education and E-Learning', can help you to build sites that will work for a long time. Whether Drupal goes through an upgrade or not, your site will still be better for having used some of the 'recipes' that books help to identify and define.

The other role that I have found with Drupal books is that they provide a great way of learning Drupal. Until I bought a Drupal book, I wasn't able to fully understand the possibilities that were available. Having a book next to my computer allows me to dip in when I think "I'm sure there's a better way to do this..." and I almost always find that there is.

ScoutBaker’s picture

Drupal doesn't change so fast that these books are outdated any quicker than many computer books. When you talk about Core, between 5.0 and 6.0 there was a 13 month gap. Over the supported lifetime of 2 releases (current plus 1 back), that looks like a couple of years for a version of Core to be out and supported. For most computer books, 2-3 years is a good run.

As for contributed modules, these books cover the actively used and maintained modules. Those modules aren't likely to become unsupported, and get updated for the new releases of core. So that coverage has the same value over the life of the book as the core information.

"Nice to meet you Rose...run for your life." - The Doctor
My first public Drupal site - EyeOnThe503

bonobo’s picture

The other people who have responded said much of what I would have said, but the question you raise -- how can a print book stay current/relevant given the rate of change within the codebase? -- is something I wrestled with both before agreeing to write the book, and while writing the book.

I've been using Drupal since version 4.5, in the dark days when new node types needed to be created via code, lists of nodes needed to be created via code, and no books existed explaining how to do it :)

But over that time, much has remained constant: nodes are the primary means for storing data, taxonomy provides a range of flexible options for categorizing data/providing metadata, and roles allow for granular permissions. The UI for accessing these core components have undergone significant change, but the basic strengths of the platform has remained intact.

Then, we have the core building blocks: CCK, Views, and Organic Groups. The CCK and Views UI both remained consistent throughout the D5 lifecycle, and I feel relatively comfortable that they will remain steady for the D6 lifecycle. In the event that they don't, however, I broke down the instructions for Views and CCK to highlight a process/series of steps for accessing their functionality. The general concepts embodied within these steps provide scaffolding for people attempting to understand what these modules offer.

The same is true with Organic Groups -- while the UI could change within the D6 lifespan, I attempted to focus on the main ways that OG shifts the way your site works once installed. This has something that has been true since I first started using OG, back in (I think) 4.6.

Some of the other pieces (block visibility settings, creating custom menus, backup and maintenance) all address core functionality, or general aspects of running a Drupal site that hold true regardless of the version you are using.

The one area that could/probably will change over the D6 lifespan is file and media handling, as it's likely that Filefield will become more widely used. But, given that this is a CCK-based solution, the book will allow people to transition into that pretty seamlessly. And if/when that becomes relevant or necessary, I'll be blogging the updated instructions over at FunnyMonkey.

So, while there are definitely challenges to writing a print book that remains current, with some planning it can be done, and it was certainly among my goals in writing this book.



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Using Drupal in Education

vkr11’s picture

Congrats !!

- Victor
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bob_irving’s picture

It's definitely on my holiday list. I appreciate what Bill continues to do to support the Drupal and education communities.

derbium’s picture

The book is easy to follow with lots of great screen shots that make it simple to set up a complex and powerful e-learning tool. I have worked through over half of the book and have found very few "snags". Nice work.

I also posted about this on my blog at http://continue-the-conversation.blogspot.com/2009/01/twitter-blocked-dr... . I will post more as I work through additional parts of the book.

James125’s picture

Very nice work! Awesome

James125’s picture

Very nice work! Awesome

drupalastic’s picture

Dear Ones,
I am new to Drupal.
It this book worth reading for me now in 2010.