Friday, May 02, 2008

Wrestling with access control

Plone As part of one of our PLE projects, we've been wrestling with access controls. The tutor of the MBChB Medical Law and Medical Ethics course needs to be able to:
  1. Let all the students on the module (340) have access to core presentations and documents, but restrict public access because of the nature of some of the material contained and the wishes of some of the contributors.
  2. Allow the students to work collaboratively on presentations and documents which will then be available to all the other students on the course, but not be publicly available.
It seems that the answer to (1) might be Plone, which has good granularity of access control based on institutional logins. And I'm starting to think the that answer to (2) might be Plone as well. Annoyingly, it seems like the answer to (3) might be the Plone Survey feature too.

I've been critical of the UoL implementation of Plone in the past, and I stand by that as the original UoL platform was pretty bad. But the Plone team both here at UoL and in the wider development community have done a good job with Plone, and for this particular project where we need such fine granularity of access control, Plone is looking like a winner. Good job Nick!

Phew, glad that's sorted. All we have to do now is build it :-)
And the next trick is to resist the constant pressure/temptation to use the Web 2.0 tools as a push medium...


  1. plone 3 is a far superior product and coming in here the summer. I use it quite a bit and have just run our plagiarism policy and practice survey on it.
    Major disadvantage is that you are still tied to cfs log-ins which means lock out on graduation, but I am assuming this isn't as much of an issue for the medics?

  2. Well, we need it in June, so I guess we're 2.0 kinda people ;-)
    In this instance, we actually need to restrict access, but to a large defined group (340 students on a course). It's not easy to set that up on Google docs - institutional login actually becomes an advantage here. Thank God they don't have access to Blackboard, or I might be tempted by the Darkside...

  3. Glad you've got to use Plone eventually! I guess good old google docs can't do it then? I'm not sure I'd recommend Plone survey (yet)