Major Changes in the Use of WordPress in Education
I was first introduced to the world of WordPress in 2008 when I was looking for a good way to build a website for a math course I was teaching. My school offered an archaic website solution and, though I don’t remember why, I first tried out both Drupal and Joomla.
All I wanted was a quick and easy way to post notes, videos, and assignments for my students – and provide parents and students an easy way to subscribe to new posts by email.
Today, I have the best job in the world in that I get to work with educators around the world using WordPress over on Edublogs. We host well over a million blogs for education, and we also do expert hosting of private Multisite networks for hundreds of schools and universities with what we call Edublogs Campus.
How WordPress Is Used
Traditionally, we’ve seen three main ways that WordPress is being leveraged by educators and students:
Exactly like what I originally wanted to do. A web presence to share daily info with students (and parents).
Here in an example
See Larry Ferlazzo’s blog for what I mean here. Practicing educators share tips, ideas, and resources with others in the field.
Blogs (along with twitter) have facilitated powerful connections for many. See how to build a Personal Learning Network for more.
Here’s a list of 30 excellent student blogs from many different locations and age groups. Students often blog as part of class requirements – improving writing, critical thinking, and technology skills.
What major changes are happening?
You’ll notice that the three most common uses of WordPress have historically all been for blogging.
But, just as we see a parallel shift outside of education with the increased use of WordPress as a powerful CMS, we’re also finding more and more creative ways of classroom and school use.
In just the past few months, we’ve migrated over several schools’ entire websites to our WordPress Multisite hosting environment. Administrators love the ease of use for posting new content, and the technical teams like that we manage all hosting and support for often much cheaper than what can be done locally ;)
Many schools and universities are adding student (and even staff) portfolio requirements. Electronic portfolios built in WordPress can travel with their owners wherever they may end up and are a fantastic way of keeping archives of work, thoughts, and sharing videos and other media.
Perhaps the best resource out there for implementing ePortfolios is from Dr. Helen Barrett, which can be found here.
For the same reasons that print media is on the decline in the real world, many student-ran newspapers are going fully online. We host tons of student publications. Moderation tools are popular so that editors or school officials can approve all content before it is live.
Using themes like P2 and advanced privacy settings, many are turning to WordPress to create private collaborative spaces for professional development, project planning, and more. We know of one major university that does all of its budget planning right on a blog!
There are tons of other ways we see WordPress in action in the education space on a daily basis.
BuddyPress is growing in popularity and there are quite a few handy education related plugins in the repository.
If you’re interested in keeping up with more, we regularly post blogging tips and news for educators over on TheEdublogger.com.
Do you have any WordPress in education resources or examples to share?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Credit: Image School Bus by BigStock