OpenScholar: Not only a Drupal distribution for schools, there is something here for marketers

Author: Anirban Chakraborty | Categories: CMS, Digital Marketing

Drupal is a flexible content management system, which has thousands of contributed modules that enhance its core capabilities. In addition to modules, there are several distributions of Drupal—ready-made and fine-tuned configurations of Drupal and associated modules. One of those distributions is OpenScholar, a Drupal package customized for universities and colleges.

OpenScholar was developed at Harvard University to streamline the process of creating microsites for professors, researchers, and students—without assistance from the IT staff. Traditionally, academicians had their personal websites created by the department’s IT staff, so OpenScholar was developed to enable teachers to quickly and easily create websites without help. This was easy enough since OpenScholar automates the process of creating a site.

Key features of OpenScholar include:

  • Consolidated deployment platform
  • Pluggable widgets
  • Elegant themes
  • Social collaboration

One of the main characteristics of OpenScholar, which differentiates it from the Drupal core, is an intuitive customization interface. This interface enables non-technical people to design and develop a microsite. It gives authors greater control over the layout of their microsites, and they can even set up a different layout for each section. By dragging and dropping various widgets (e.g. search box, list of recent publications, calendar, upcoming events, etc.) into different parts of the page, users can conveniently customise the look and feel of websites.

OpenScholar also provides a trendy social feature called Activity Stream; all updates posted to the Activity Stream are visible to other microsite owners as well, so that colleagues are always aware of what’s happening in their peers’ professional lives. But ofcourse, this feature is customizable so authors can choose whether they want to send out the updates or not; in case they don’t want to share the info, they have the option of turning off updates completely.

Although OpenScholar was developed with educational institutions in mind, it can be used to build marketing microsites, personal websites and mini portals as well.

And of course OpenScholar is free – much like its parent Drupal.


  • OpenScholar Homepage: http://openscholar.harvard.edu/home
  • Video embed link: <iframesrc=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/9887585″ width=”400″ height=”225″ frameborder=”0″></iframe><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/9887585″>Scholars Web Sites Project Overview</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/iqss”>IQSS</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>