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What I learned at WordCamp 2011: Messages for eLearning

March 9, 2011

Last weekend I attended WordCamp Miami. This was my second year at this event and I highly recommend it if you use WordPress or are interested in blogging. WordCamp is…

“…a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users…. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.” – WordCamp Central

This one-day event featured three tracks – beginner/blogger, marketing/design, and development/coding. I felt like I fell a little in between the tracks – not a beginning blogger, but also not a skilled programmer. That being said, I really enjoyed the sessions I attended and left with a list of ideas that will keep me busy for some time to come.

Getting started with WordPress:

If you aren’t familiar but want to find out more, take a look at this Introduction to WordPress presentation from Adam Warner. It’s a nice place to start.

Take-aways for eLearning:

I found that many of the presentations spoke not only to bloggers and WordPress users, but also to designers and developers of online education experiences. We’re concerned about a lot of the same things. The ideas and tips described below could be adapted for use in instructional design and development.

  • Keep mobile development in mind – “The mobile web is growing”, says Steven Mautone. Check out this presentation: WordPress for Mobile. Kevin Zurawel’s presentation on Responsive Web Design recommends developers plan for mobile delivery first, then look at the rest.
  • Let data drive your decisions – In a session on analytics, the stress was on gathering data about blog members and visitors. What data do we collect about online students? How can we better leverage the existing information to improve learning and the online experience? For WordPress users, several presenters mentioned WP SEO by Yost.
  • Improve user experience – We know we don’t ask our students and faculty enough about their experiences with our online courses. How can we get better at this? A user experience checklist might help. Jeremy Harrington presented a User Experience Flight Checklist for a WordPress site that could be adapted for use in eLearning.
  • Prepare to hand-off to your client – In this case I think we could consider both instructor and student “clients”. Too often we complete course development, upload the course pages, then more or less walk away. What can we do to make the transition easier? Tammy Hart discussed future proofing and tips for simplification.
  • WordPress as an LMS – I have friends at the University of Hawaii who are using WordPress to develop and deliver online courses. They are not alone in taking WordPress beyond the blog. Take a look at this presentation by Josh Guffey about using WordPress as a CMS to create a portfolio site. How could students do this for study and/or career portfolios? This plug-in was lauded for making the admin side a lot easier – CMS Tree Page View.
  • Take a long-term approach – It takes time to develop a quality product of any kind. Multiple presenters, especially those talking about the art and science of blogging, stressed this point. It takes time…and practice. And you get better.

Thanks to all:

Thanks to the organizers and speakers for a great event! Lost of positive energy and ideas, all at an affordable price. Visit the WordCamp Miami website for more information about the event and additional links to presentations. If you are at all interested in blogging, social media, or the WordPress platform, find a WordCamp in your area and go!

See you in 2012, WordCamp Miami!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 11:26 am

    Hi Melissa,

    Great write up on WordCamp Miami. It’s interesting to hear what your takeaways were from an “Edublogger” perspective.

    Also, thanks for the mention and link to my presentation slides. I intend make my entire presentation video available on my site within the week.

    • March 9, 2011 2:51 pm

      Thanks, Adam! I enjoyed your presentation and think it will be helpful to a lot of folks. Thanks for making the slides and video available.

  2. March 9, 2011 12:33 pm

    Thanks for this writeup – it makes me realize how many great talks I missed out on!

    I do want to point out that I am far from being the first person to recommend mobile-first development. I highly recommend watching the video of Luke Wroblewski’s presentation on “Mobile First” at his website: http://www.lukew.com/presos/preso.asp?26

    Hope to see you at next year’s WordCamp Miami!

    • March 9, 2011 2:54 pm

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the additional resources related to mobile-first development. In education we are talking about it, but it’s a big turn to make in an industry that can be slow to react. Your presentation was the first time where I heard the “mobile-first” recommendation and it struck a chord.

      Hope to see you next year as well!

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