UNL Learning Communities First-Year program selector

Learning Communities

The Learning Communities program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is designed to group students with similar majors or academic interests together in the same residence hall floor to create an immersive educational experience. Pretty important, innovative stuff. Unfortunately, their website didn’t reflect the fun dynamism of their mission.

Fortunately, my clients were very open-minded and supportive of me breaking the rules of the strict UNL style guide a bit to better serve their students.

Art & Design Learning Communities webpage
The Art & Design Learning Communities page

UNL’s websites are built in a custom build of Drupal 7. To give my clients the power to update and maintain the content in their ever-growing list of communities, I created a custom post type for Communities using TWIG syntax. The sponsors are a type unto themselves and are searchable for ease of use.

First-Year Learning Community tiles
First-Year Learning Community tiles

The unquestioned star of the Learning Communities site is the First-Year Communities page, which features a clever use of David DeSandro’s Isotope jQuery plugin. The filter parameters at the top allow students to sort communities based on broad categories of interest.

Filters on the First-Year Communities page

Because of my use of a third-party jQuery plugin on such an integral page of the site, I was invited to speak at a monthly meeting of my fellow university web developers on how I made it work. The Learning Communities site continues to be a point of envy among learning community programs throughout the Big 10.