A slightly more serious question for a change:

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A slightly more serious question for a change:

Postby Midnight_Carnival » November 14th, 2016, 9:40 pm

Background:
Hello. I have moved to Colombia where I am working as a volunteer English teacher.
Part of what I am required to do involves making English more interesting to my students through volunteer projects. If you are not a 1st language English speaker, you will understand how difficult and uninspiring English can be to learn and if you are a 1st language English speaker, imagine that you were on your way to getting your qualification and being able to work when somebody in government decided that in order to work as an accountant, welder, ect you had to learn German, then add to that, that you had no intention of ever even visiting Germany on holiday and knew no one who spoke German...
Anyway, I'm getting distracted – if I can make English more interesting and appealing to my students, I can play a small part in transforming Colombia's image overseas and helping this country to prosper.

What I'm doing:
I have 2 volunteer projects, the official one and the unofficial one.

Officially, I'm working with posters and banners, this should be easy because many of the students at my centre study graphic design related subjects or marketing... however, in order to make it interesting and interactive (as opposed to just “go make a poster, put some English on it this time!”), I would like to create an online community where my students can upload designs and interact with students and volunteers from other centres. Already I have a lot of interest from other centres and from Bogotá.

The unofficial project centres around community gardening and environmental groups. Colombians live such a beautiful country with such abundance that they sometimes take it for granted. I hope by sharing info and experiences with other such groups in other parts of the world they will not only share their knowledge but also learn how lucky they are to live here!

What I need:
As explained, I need to create an interactive online community (
En inglés y en español, pero el inglés es un requisito importante para mi proyecto de voluntariado. ) I have designed it on paper (as silly as that sounds) I know exactly what I need. I must have it so people can sign up, create a profile and very importantly upload images, I need only 2 groups, the users and the admin and they will mostly be the same except that the admin will be running things. I want different subsections and threads which can be closed after a while, ect.
I would like to create one online community for the poster project and one for the people growing things project (not narcotics, don't watch Narcos before responding to this post!)

So what's stopping me:
A combination of 3 factors:
1) as a volunteer, I get paid enough to stay alive, fortunately most of Colombia is very cheap to live in, otherwise what was described as “a modest living stipend” would come to nothing. I can not afford to pay a huge amount to someone in order to get them to make my dream website only to have to leave the country later and have very little to do with it afterwards (the poster one, the gardening one I'm going to be all over no matter where I am). The other thing is that Colombia is not a rich country, I'll gladly reinvest some of what they are generous enough to pay me back into the country while I'm here (6-12 months more) but since I do believe in the projects I am starting, I'd be sad to hear that the online communities collapsed after I left because the other admins could not afford to pay for maintenance and upkeep of the website.
2) I have somewhere south of <best not be too honest here>all ability when it comes to coding anything. I might learn html or whatever it is, but I have my hands full learning to be a real teacher, not to mention learning Spanish! Then I have to plan lessons and activities, mark stuff the students did, I spend around 30 hours a week in class (for which I have to plan and prepare) and have other work-related obligations meaning I don't really see that I will be able to teach myself how to make web pages and online communities too soon.
3) I know of students who have the ability to do this and once my Spanish improves I can enlist their help, but let's face it, NOBODY is going to respond well to “you have to make a website for me and you have to do this and that and the other and then you can join it” - I am more likely to get help from them if I have something to show initially which they can then fix and modify. It is my intention (because I will have to leave at some point) that the Colombians themselves, especially the students, take over the projects and the associated online communities. Having them help develop it is a good way of making them feel a sense of ownership and pride however expecting them to do everything for me is going to be counter-productive.
Likewise, support, including perhaps financial support for my projects can come from the government (via the educative institution, etc food chain) but again, only if I have something to show for it. Asking for technical or financial support so I can start something will get me nowhere.

So what I'm asking for:
Does anybody know of a very cheap service which would allow me to be create the online communities I need for my projects to work well?

Has anyone ever made such a website/forum themselves and do you still have the code?
If you could send me a “blank template” for such a thing and instructions on how to turn it into an actual working website, including registering it and domain things, ect, it would be like divine intervention, a lot more than I would ever expect.

But even if not, any and all info which might help me would be very much appreciated.

Any guidance on how to do it better or on how to reshape my desired results so they become something which can be made cheaply and fairly easily would again be more than I am prepared to ask for but again, it would be amazing if it were possible as it would save me a lot of trial and error.

What I'm not asking for:

Despite the things I said would be amazing if they could happen, I'm actually not asking for someone to design the web pages for me, make the sites, maintain and administer them, etc. If I'm going to ask someone to do those thing I'm going to pay them to, and then as I've said, I don't have much to pay them!
I'm also not asking for financial assistance, as I have said, if I can't afford it the Colombians won't be able to afford it after I go; so although it would help me no end if someone gave me a huge pile of money, I would much rather create a cheap and sustainable online community so that when I am gone it can continue without me.

I know I tend to write a lot and because of this I have kept the details on my projects and exactly what I need from the web pages to a minimum, I will share more details if anyone wants to know them.

Thank you for reading all of this and considering my requests.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.
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Midnight_Carnival
 
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Location: On the beach at sunset, gathering coral

Re: A slightly more serious question for a change:

Postby GunChleoc » November 15th, 2016, 8:19 am

As a software, best use something that's widely available rather than a custom solution. Otherwise, long-term maintenance and support can be a problem. You could have a forum like phpBB with attachments on like we use here, or some social networking stuff like https://elgg.org/. Or get Wordpress and find some suitable plugins, e.g. Vanilla Forums. Or Mediawiki.

In order to test and play with the software, best set up a localhost on your computer before you start paying for a hosting plan and putting everything online. https://www.apachefriends.org/ will help you with that.

Maybe wikia would be an option for you - this way, no hosting costs.

Another interesting project for some then might be to help with the translation of the software that they are using into Colombian Spanish - this way, they get to read some English and practice their dictionary skills.
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Re: A slightly more serious question for a change:

Postby Midnight_Carnival » November 15th, 2016, 5:08 pm

Indeed, thanks, and yes, there are plenty of opportunities for translating.

I'll check out all the things you suggested once I finish my admin work which has been building up since june.

Someone suggested https://mybb.com/ you think that might work?
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.
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Midnight_Carnival
 
Posts: 828
Joined: September 6th, 2008, 11:08 am
Location: On the beach at sunset, gathering coral

Re: A slightly more serious question for a change:

Postby GunChleoc » November 15th, 2016, 9:12 pm

I'm not familiar with it, but it's FLOSS and active, so certainly an alternative option to phpBB.
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