I have previously written about efforts to design an alumni web site for Maru-a-Pula school around Elgg. At the time, I thought it would be a long time before Catlin Gabel School was ready to open a web site to mostly unmoderated alumni contributions. Then, our development office took on a new hire — a recent graduate — who informed us that alumni have already been asking the school for social networking support (MySpace, Facebook, eVite) for reunion classes! This has suddenly opened the door to using Elgg here at Catlin Gabel. So, I present to you, Catlin Gabel Alumni Online (a work in progress)!
The big difference between the Maru-a-Pula and Catlin Gabel alumni sites is that the latter site must be fully integrated with LDAP and Raiser’s Edge. LDAP is needed so that current faculty, staff, and seniors may have full access to the alumni conversations. Contact with former teachers is of high interest to alumni. I activated the Elgg LDAP authentication module (it’s built in with recent distributions) and added a little of my own code to autogenerate a new user account for each new successful LDAP login.
Raiser’s Edge integration is necessary in order to keep the database restricted to alumni and show information the school currently has in its alumni database in each user’s online profile. To achieve the first goal, I quickly validate the name and email information that Elgg requests of new users against Raiser’s Edge before allowing new user registration. For the second, I plan to pull RE information whenever it is newer than the information in Elgg. When new profile information is submitted in Elgg, I will generate an email to the alumni office so that they may make individual changes and/or make the data available for download and import into Raiser’s Edge.
We are excited about the potential for alumni users to engage in reunion conversationss through this tool and then continue individual updates and group conversations ongoing. Now if only my old high school were to make such a tool available for my reunion!