Winter Institute & Why WordPress?

WordPress can be used for many things. WordPress is just a thing to easily create web pages with. It is not the only tool, but rather, one of many. It can be a place to keep your course content. It can be a place to keep a resume. It can be a students class journal. It could be a travel journal. It could be just about anything you want to place on the web.

If you look over to the right you can click on some links that go to various teacher’s web spaces. Most are WordPress, some are not. Many are Yavapai College teachers. On the far right you can sign up for email notifications when new posts are added here. On of the things we are trying to do at the college is to develop a support group for educators who are using WordPress in various ways. We will try to have meetings once a semester so that we can learn from each other. You can email todd.conaway@yc.edu with questions about WordPress or how it might be useful to you.

“Social Media” and Learning

This morning I read this article and thought about the word “media.” Books are media, right? Libraries are social spaces that have and share media, right? Sound is media. Concerts are social events that share sound. Some for free, others not. Webpages are made of media. Some cost, some do not. There are many examples.

So my question is: Why have we become so resistant in education to the combined words “social media” and how can we get over it and begin to USE media intelligently and in a socially responsible way?

Anyway, the article linked above share a story about the successes of social media in academic space. What I like is that the “event” will be “broadcast to anyone willing and able to participate. The event itself, is media. Sound, video, images, space, digital stuff.

Good work Mr. Boyer.

People I Admire: Educators Who Write

I have been following Jabiz Raisdana for about  year. I met him in a class I was taking called ds106. It is/was/will forever be a class about digital storytelling. Our medium of communication was Twitter and blog comments. He wrote a lot about his teaching experiences. He was a great role model. He still is. This morning I read his most recent post and it sent me on a short journey into the world of assessment and communication and value of educational artifacts.

So here in the WordPress Users space I share his blog because he uses the digital medium well. He uses it as a place to reflect and to share ideas. He uses it as a place to solicit ideas form others. He uses it to communicate.

He also uses it to share his world and the things he had done. When I imagine the teacher who engages in leveraging this digital environment one of the ways a teacher can do that is to share course content. Another way is to share the challenges and wonders they face in the world we live in.

Jabiz, the time and energy you chose to share with the many who have read your  thoughts continues to amaze me. Thanks!

More Courses from Stanford Offered Open, on the Web.

While these may not fall into the WordPress category, the course do have many similar qualities to what creating open online content does for us. They share useful content created by good teachers. Those teachers, paid with public funding, are creating and sharing course content with the community they serve.

This OpenCulture site lists all the courses.  Here is direct link to the Anatomy course.

CUNY Commons Boxing the Platform

CUNY will be making available, for free, the platform they have used in creating the CUNY Commons. I am excited about the prospects this may bring. And I love some of the language used in the recent announcement.

The core features of Commons-style networks enjoy broad appeal as institutions look for ways to penetrate institutional silos, to mitigate the effects of geographical distance, and to produce collaborative, public-facing scholarship that can help demonstrate the value of intellectual life at a time when funding for higher education is increasingly being called into question.

&

Educational groups, scholarly associations, and other non-profit organizations will be able to leverage the Commons in a Box to give their members a space in which to present themselves as scholars to the public, to share their work, to locate and communicate with peers, and to engage in collaborative scholarship.

Well said!

SCC Showcase

Looks like Scottsdale Community College has set up a WordPress network called SCC Showcase to offer blogs to departments, groups and certificate programs.  The blogs are embedded somehow in the SCC website frame.

All of the blogs were established in 2011, starting in April, so this must be a brand-new project.  It doesn’t look like a lot of people have added anything to their sites yet which is kind of disappointing.  Not even the Graphic Design program?  Hey, their college GIVES them a WordPress site; they should be grateful!  There are a couple of developed sites, such as the Audio Production Technologies and the GLBTQ group Equality Maricopa SCC-Core.  But it will be interesting to see what, if anything, others make of their sites.  It’s something to keep an eye on, certainly.

WordPress Network

I have been wanting to set up my WordPress.org installation to host more than one blog for a while now.  Todd assured me it was possible and I’d see it done on other blog sites, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.  I want to have a separate blog for each different topic I teach.  Since I teach a lot of different disciplines, from archaeology to religious studies, folklore to the impact of technology on human society, I wanted to be able to set up different blog rolls, Twitter feeds, links and resources for my students.  In addition, I wanted an actual BLOG for each topic, not just a single blog on the front page and a bunch of static pages with info about different classes.  I have aspirations for using my class blog to reflect on class discussions, add information that got left out of a presentation, that sort of thing.  It’s a lot of writing, especially in semesters where I have four class preps, but as I say, it’s an aspiration.

So, a single WordPress.org blog was not enough.  And finally, over the Labor Day weekend, I muddled through various instructions and got it done.  Or rather, tried and entirely FUBAR’d my site.  You have to add a few snippets of code to the actual WordPress install, something I know nothing about, but I could (I thought) follow directions.  Somehow, when I added the code, it disabled my ability to log into my blog.  Take the code out, no problem.  Put it back in, no log in.  That’s the extent of my ability to troubleshoot code.  However, WordPress DOES offer an extensive and timely forum set-up for support.  I posted my question Friday night and by Saturday afternoon (on a holiday weekend!), a response was posted that gave me the answer I needed.  (Try a different browser.  Why didn’t I think of that?)

So now I am the proud administrator of a network of WordPress blogs, based in subdirectories of my main site.  What this means is that as well as my main site, www.ychumanities.net, I also have a (relatively) unlimited number of subsidiary blogs with the same URL followed by a slash and an identifier.  Like www.ychumanities.net/hum101, for my HUM 101 pop culture class.  I can post blog essays there for my students, add links, blog rolls, course information, whatever I’d like my HUM 101 students to have access to.  I envision having a separate subdirectory for each class…someday.  For now, I’m working on building an e-portfolio at my main site, and playing around with a couple subdirectories to see what I can create (and likely destroy.)  But hey, I’m the network administrator and I can always delete a subdirectory blog and make a new one, if I mess up too bad.  I’d like to have one or two class blogs up to try in the spring semester, but we’ll see about that.

If anyone else has aspirations to host more than one blog on their WordPress.org installation, there is a lot of good info to be found.  The actual WordPress Codex instructions are rather alarming, warning that you should have UNIX experience as well as a working knowledge of PHP, HTML and CSS.  Don’t listen to them.  I did it and I don’t even know what those letters mean.  I like eduChalk.org, a blog of free tech tutorial videos made by a tech consultant, and he made a video walking you through the steps of establishing a network.   

And finally, AFTER I wrestled my blog network into shape, I found a short ebook created by a WordPress team pirate.  (I don’t know what that means either.)   CreateAWordPressNetwork  Said team pirate actually has a whole site devoted to documentation and plugins for WordPress Networks.

So anyway, that’s my WordPress Network saga.  Hope it helps someone else!

Sukey