Over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of June. I attended WP Campus, which is a “a community and conference for web professionals, educators and people dedicated to the confluence of WordPress in higher education.” There are many ways WordPress can be used from creating multisites and multitenant sites for Universities’ forward-facing sites, to academic sites, to basic digital signage (which seems like that’s a waste of WordPress’s abilities, but to each their own). At the University of Mary Washington, WordPress is used for our official University site, but it is also a staple for digital projects across the disciplines. We in the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, as well as the Digital Knowledge Center, recommend WordPress as a CMS and site builder because it does have a nice gooey UI, and is quick to set up (on both our UMWBlogs and Domain of One’s Own platforms). These benefits of WordPress were mentioned in both the “beginner” and “advanced” sessions I attended, but past the brief mentions of those benefits, those points weren’t discussed further, at least not pedagogically. Learning about new WordPress tools, and hacks, and integrations was fascinating as a technologist and I’d love to experiment with some of the concepts and tools presented, but at UMW my job is to work with faculty and be an instructional technologist. Therefore, I need to be able to find concepts and tools that would be innovative but also practical for faculty and students to use.
One of the goals of DTLT is to empower faculty to explore digital pedagogy, which typically involves encouraging faculty to explore digital tools and platforms. We choose to recommend WordPress (both on a multisite and as an individual install) as a place to start because it lets you creative and tailor your projects and sites so that they can be unique. It allows members of our community to start becoming individuals on the web. WordPress allows faculty to have public facing courses, to create collaborative and innovative projects, and to rethink and remix their pedagogy. For DTLT, (and I’d like to think for the larger UMW Community,) WordPress is not just a CMS, it’s platform that aides us in introducing faculty, staff, and students to the concept of digital identities and how to develop one outside of social media. I learned about some cool plugins, new site setup techniques, and about best practices for creating documentation, but I wish that larger concept of WordPress as a pedagogical tool for high education was discussed more. Maybe next year. Until then, I’m totally going to play around with a plugin that was mentioned in the “Books and Blogs: Developing the Digital Humanities with WordPress” session, because it’s cool.
[Image by Jess Reingold]