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Scale up your instruction by sharing your resources: Deploy Wordpress as a learning object repository

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Presentation given at Library Technology Conference 2016.

Presentation given at Library Technology Conference 2016.


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Scale up your instruction by sharing your resources: Deploy Wordpress as a learning object repository

  1. 1. Scale Up Your Instruction By Sharing Your Resources: Deploy Wordpress as a Learning Object Repository Stone Flower (Кам’яна квітка), By Яна Сычикова, Сергей Ковачев, Wikimedia CC-BY-SA Welcome! What do you already know? f 1. Please direct your device to 2. Enter the Room Name WORDPRESS. 3. Take the anonymous survey. iPhoneimage:Betterversionofearlierattempt,ByJustin14,WikimediaCC-BY-SA
  2. 2. Scale Up Your Instruction By Sharing Your Resources Deploy Wordpress as a Learning Object Repository J. Lindsay O’Neill, Cal State Fullerton @LindsayOnTheRun, Stone Flower (Кам’яна квітка), By Яна Сычикова, Сергей Ковачев, Wikimedia CC-BY-SA #scaleup
  3. 3. Links /scaleup Repository Slides
  4. 4. Lots of begging for content, long-term commitment Centralized, indexed, publicly accessible instruction materials NOT a true repository Surprised Smiley by East718, Sad Smiley by McZusatz, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA Wordpress is Open Source and thousands of themes are free TL;DR
  5. 5. In This Session… Strategies to launch a similar repository at your own institution 1 2 3 Why pool instructional resources How to implement Wordpress as a (hack) learning object repository
  6. 6. The Setting: Cal State Fullerton •39,000 students •15 instruction librarians •~600 one-shots a year •Underserved online population •No incentives for innovative instruction Pollak Library 1
  7. 7. State of Pollak Library’s Online Instructional Resources in 2014 Abandoned Gold Rush Building, Bodie, California by Terry Feuerborn, Flickr CC-BY1
  8. 8. Challenges New Librarian in New Position! Planning One-Shots from Scratch Needed Storyline Tutorial Hosting Scale Up Instruction ? Librarians Need Media Hosting Discovering The Lay of the Land 1
  9. 9. 1
  10. 10. Empathize New librarian/new position; Isolating work culture; No budget, not much tech support; Librarians want to try new things Define Librarians need media hosting; Library needs to scale up instruction; Need to better serve online students Ideate Shared server; Public interface; Pooled resources; Badges; Campus repository efforts; Prototype Got server hosting from library programmer, built Wordpress interface, uploaded content Test Positive feedback from handful of librarians, some passive participation, but growing active participation and interest; Continue to review and revise (beta!) Design Thinking Scenario 1
  11. 11. Culture Shift =I==.i= by Frank Meffert, Flickr CC-BY1
  12. 12. Oh the Places You’ll Go COLOR by Luc Galoppin, Flickr CC-BY1
  13. 13. Invest in Sharing by Jonathan McIntosh, Flickr CC-BY-SA1
  14. 14. 1
  15. 15. 1
  16. 16. Repository Stores and indexes content. “Referratory” “A link to other sites for content and information unlike repositories which contain the actual content” (Chaka, 2010c, as quoted in Dictionary of Information Science and Technology, full citation in notes) 1
  17. 17. 2 Logo used under Fair Use
  18. 18. 2 • Hosts your site • Free version is very basic and has limited customization • Not on your campus domain ($$$) • Download open source software and host yourself • Unlimited customization • On your campus domain • May need programmer support Logos used under Fair Use
  19. 19. 2
  20. 20. // 2
  21. 21. Implementation Virtual Server Wordpress Install* Install Theme and Plugins Upload Content/Create Records *with programmer’s help! 2
  22. 22. MY VIEW Mapped network drive PUBLIC VIEW Items must be manually added to Pollak Library eLearning using a template 2
  23. 23. 2
  24. 24. 2
  25. 25. Live Site 2
  26. 26. Upload Content Identify learning object to be added Create a new record based on a template Take screenshots/design “Featured Image” Click publish and it's live! 2
  27. 27. Live Site 2
  28. 28. Object Record Document Footer 2
  29. 29. 2
  30. 30. 2
  31. 31. Plugins Akismet Jetpack Advanced Search Widget Simple Content Templates 2 Akismet and Jetpack screenshots under Fair Use; other two images public domain
  32. 32. Advanced Search Widget Plugin 21 2
  33. 33. Simple Content Template Plugin 21 2
  34. 34. OrganizingYourContent RubbermaidHomefreeSeriesClosetKit3P40byRubbermaidProducts,FlickrCC-BY 2
  35. 35. 2
  36. 36. Plugins for Learning • Freemium! • Issue badges • Based on Open Badges • Supposedly Free • Implement your own LMS • $129-299 • Implement your own LMS Low/no-cost entry to experimenting with badges! 2 Logos under Fair Use
  37. 37. Strategies for Success 3
  38. 38. Gathering Content Meer-catbyGeoffMcHugh,FlickrCC-BY-SA 3
  39. 39. Make it easy for colleagues to host content 3
  40. 40. Constant (Tasteful) Promotion KonsumentengerichteteVerkaufsförderungdurchAusverkau fundAngebotebyJonathanMcIntosh,FlickrCC-BY 3
  41. 41. Support New Instruction Librarians HardworkcanhurtbyDaveC,FlickrCC-BY-SA 3
  42. 42. Showcase Your Work AwidearrayoflampsandlightfixturesondisplayataLampsPlusstoreinPlano,Texas byRagesoss,WikimediaCC-BY-SA 3
  43. 43. Serve Your Online Students 3
  44. 44. Cons! In Conclusion… 3 Sad Smiley by McZusatz, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA
  45. 45. Pros! 3 Surprised Smiley by East718, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA
  46. 46. QUALITY VERSUS CONFLICT by Luc Galoppin, Flickr CC-BY3
  47. 47. 3 Lingering Questions… • How can I incentivize sharing instructional materials? • Letters for files, public showcases… • How can I better publicize this resource? • Flyers, web banners… • How can I better manage the work of writing item records? • Student assistant work, e-learning internships… • What else…?
  48. 48. Scale It Up 3 Surprised Smiley by East718, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA
  49. 49. Questions? @LindsayOnTheRun jloneill@fullerton.eduContact

Editor's Notes

  • This PowerPoint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY). Please credit J. Lindsay O’Neill,, as the creator of this work.
  • This PowerPoint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY). Please credit J. Lindsay O’Neill,, as the creator of this work.
  • Wordpress is free (but you need server space, and maybe a programmer)
    Many Wordpress themes are free and highly customizable
    Each item record is actually a blog post with a CC license – more of an interface than a repository
    Opportunity: It’s awesome to have a centralized place for instruction materials that’s indexed (not machine-readable by DLO aggregators tho)
    Challenge: There’s a lot of begging involved to get content, and you have to be in it for the long-haul
    Still here? Let’s move on!
  • Following this session, attendees will be able to:
    Explain the benefits of pooling instructional resources (a case study in design thinking)
    Describe how Wordpress can be used as a learning object repository
    Strategize to implement a similar repository at their own institutions

  • All we had were LibGuides and a YouTube that was difficult to get access to…in fact, our library has two YouTubes. Hmm.
    Newest original Pollak Library YouTube video was from … 2011!
    And it’s one of those creepy talking cartoon ones.

    How do you navigate this kind of terrain? This was especially jarring since I came to CSUF from Arizona State, home of the awesome Library Minutes.

    One librarian that did a lot of online instruction couldn’t get access to the official YouTube. What the heck?
  • New librarian in a new position!
    Needed instructional materials to plan my own one-shots
    Other librarians often happy to share – but don’t even know who to ask
    Some of this would be lack of mentoring
    Needed place to host my Storyline tutorials
    Other librarians stated need for place to put videos, SoftChalk tutorials, etc. (i.e. Zoe, Mike, Letty)
    Battle over YouTube access; website editing rights
    Promises of eLearning repository that never appeared (institutional repository basically defunct)
    Needed to scale up instruction/better serve online students
  • Other librarians are happy to share their work if you ask – but you have to ask.

    To ask, you have to know WHAT to ask for, and WHO to ask!

    Content on other librarians’ computers is invisible. Their experience is invisible.

    Developing new materials takes a LOT of time, and it’s dumb to create from scratch what someone already has done.

    Furthermore, academic instruction librarians basically all do the same things!

    CC0 image from Pixabay
  • After the fact, I realized that this was kind of a design thinking scenario.

    Here’s a great primer on Design Thinking, including examples:

    Design Thinking Steps:
    Empathize: learn about your audience – what matters to them?
    Define: what is your audience’s needs?
    Ideate: Brainstorm! Wild ideas encouraged.
    Prototype: Build an example of your idea.
    Test: Share prototype with audience, and get feedback.
    (Paraphrased from:
  • Really what I was after was a larger culture shift. I needed more than just technology tools. I needed us to embrace a new way of doing things.
  • We really need an open, collaborative space, beyond YouTube.
    That ANY librarian could use for whatever, and that would support any media format.

    We also need to evolve…

    I was willfully optimistic about all this.

  • January 2015: Got Storyline but no place to put my tutorials
    Lots of asking around, promises of “eLearning server/repository” from Fall to Spring were looking dim
    February 2015: Got access to janky library server
    April 2015: Got virtual server space! Got Wordpress! Couldn’t install it myself. Wanted simple interface.
    Other librarians requesting server space also for tutorials like SoftChalk and for videos
    YouTube battle

    At least two other librarians complained occasionally about not having place to store media for online instruction!

    Underserved online students/big online programs or in-person classes (impacted classes)
    Articulate Storyline! Produces in Flash/HTML5, needs to be hosted on web server.
    Used to be able to launch from Google Drive, but Google is deprecating this feature and won’t work after August 2016.
    Dropbox public folder used to be an option, but is no longer a dropbox folder
    Original mock-up:
    Politics – no other way to get this done, no political power
    No other way to scale up instruction

    New Librarian
    You don’t know who to trust, senior librarians might lead you astray
    Endlessly persistent and optimistic

    Design thinking: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test??
    Example need: helped develop a worksheet for a library orientation, but couldn’t find it again in my email, couldn’t find the LibGuide. Wanted to adapt it.
    Need to scale up our instruction. Not getting any more librarians!
    Hate asking around, can I use this? Can I use this? Do you have anything? LibGuides get taken down too.
    This repository houses both shared materials, and our online tutorials!
  • Let’s encourage a culture of sharing. We’re in this together, right? Sharing existing resources saves time and money, helps us use our time more effectively and purposefully, shows that we care about one another, and helps us scale up instruction by not having to recreate the wheel.

    Also, sharing is a larger trend in copyright!
  • When you create something, you own the copyright to it. You automatically have “all rights reserved” unless you indicate otherwise.

    The easiest way to let others use your work is to assign a creative commons license – you choose the level of openness.
  • Also, since libraries are champions of “OPEN” initiatives, including OER, the best way to learn about OER is to create and share OER. Practice what you preach!

    Technically our objects are “less” open – I use a BY-NC-SA license. This is probably more restrictive than it should be, but I also am willing to lean towards “more restrictive” to get librarians to be OK with sharing their work. I imagine this is a conversation our library should have in the future.
  • Why can’t I just use OER Commons, MERLOT, etc?
    NC ExpLORe/NC LOR = North Carolina Learning Object Repository (NCCCCS, UNC, independent Colleges & Universities)
    “The North Carolina Learning Object Repository (NCLOR) collects documents, audio/video clips, simulations, learning modules, assessments, and more – virtually any type of learning resource that can be digitized and processed.  Teachers from around the state can then search the NCLOR, find materials appropriate to the classes they are teaching, and use them as is or modify them to suit their needs.  This concept of sharing and reusing is the core of the NCLOR philosophy.  Teachers can become more productive and efficient.  If quality course or digital materials exist and are free for North Carolina faculty, why reinvent the wheel?“
    MnLC = Minnesota Learning Commons (MN Dept of Ed, U of MN, Minnesota State Colleges & Universities)
    The Orange Grove = Florida Distance Learning Consortium (Network of public and private post secondary institutions, see also FloridaShines’ courses at

    Referratory definition citation:
    Chaka, C. (2010c). From CMC technologies to social participation technologies. In R. Taiwo (Ed). Handbook of research on discourse behavior and digital communication: Language structures and social interaction (pp. 627-641). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference Doi: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch040. Cited in:

    Khosrowpour, M. (ed). (2012). Dictionary of information science and technology. Hershey, PA: Idea Group. Retrieved from

    NC Explore = North Carolina Learning Object Repository

    The Orange Grove

    McLC – Minnesota Learning Commons

    OER Commons

  • Originally a blogging platform
    Now, a free, open source, and robust Content Management System!
    No programming knowledge required to publish content
    Download software script and host it yourself, or host on
    Other examples of Content Management Systems:
    OU Campus (what Cal State Fullerton uses for campus website)
    Drupal, Joomla
    Website creators: Wix, Weebly, Squarespace

    This is a really great introductory video: (WP101 Wordpress Tutorials)
  • Two Wordpress options!

    I used the open source software from and host on an virtual server provided by our IT.

    No customizing themes, no flexibility without $$$
    No mapping to your university web address without $$$
    Free site =
    No plugins

    Need server space
    May need programmer’s help to customize
    Endlessly customizable, you retain control
    Implement all the themes/plugins you want
    You maintain

    More info:
    The $64,000 Question: or
    WordPress Support: and
  • Example WordPress site using Avada from ThemeForest

    Example from 25 Stunning Examples of Avada — ThemeForest’s Most Popular WordPress Theme — In Action

    Screenshot present under Fair Use (taken 3/5/16)
  • Example WordPress site using theme The Retailer

    Example from Stunning WordPress sites built with ‘The Retailer’ WP Theme

    Screenshot present under Fair Use (taken 3/5/16)
  • So first, our wonderful programmer got me virtual server space and helped me map it to a network drive for easy access. Then, she installed Wordpress for me onto the server, since I couldn’t do it myself. Needed server settings/server database setup.

    Installing on your server:
    *Easy “5-minute” installation, but our programmer had to do it for me due to server settings. Some hosts, like GoDaddy, make Wordpress installation super easy. Ask your IT person.

  • Wordpress is just the interface. I upload files and folders to the mapped network drive, and then provide links and metadata from the Wordpress site. It’s my way of making invisible content discoverable.

  • Examples of different themes on same site (logo changed tho)

    Choosing a theme
    Eventually you will not like your theme, but too bad!
    Customizing your theme: edit CSS for branding. Probably need programmer again.

    I built the example above on my personal web hosting space as a prototype

    I look for and use portfolio themes. This theme is Portfolio Blog Responsive by

  • Choosing a theme
    Eventually you will not like your theme, but too bad!
    Customizing your theme: edit CSS for branding. Probably need programmer again.

    Example of another theme (created logo using PowerPoint [Save as Picture])
  • Choosing a theme
    Eventually you will not like your theme, but too bad!
    Customizing your theme: edit CSS for branding. Probably need programmer again.

    Example of another theme (Created header using Canva)
  • Pollak Library eLearning now. This theme is Gridster Lite by ThemeFurnace

    As of 2/25/16
    33 original submissions from 8 contributors
    (16 from me)

    Also show how it looked without the CSS? (could install another instance of theme)
    Include list of customizations?
  • As of 2/25/16
    33 original submissions from 8 contributors
    (16 from me)
  • Every original work on this site has a CC license.

    There is no question about whether or not you can use something!

    The CC license is on the item record, and is affixed to each learning object.
  • Example of a record
  • Example of a record
  • Akismet – Anti-spam and malicious log-ins
    Jetpack – Stats
    Advanced Search Widget – Custom search boxes
    Simple Content Templates – Templates for uniformity

    Akismet – “Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not.”

    Jetpack – “Jetpack simplifies managing WordPress sites by giving you visitor stats, security services, speeding up images, and helping you get more traffic. Jetpack is a free plugin.”

    Advanced Search Widget – “The Advanced Search Widget is designed to be a replacement to the default search widget. The Advanced Search Widget allows you to search for only a specific post type and also select which fields to query (title, content, tags).”

    Simple Content Templates – “Simple, pre-written post content templates for your posts and pages. Use HTML and PHP to pre-fill new posts with the default content of your choice.”
  • Advanced Search Widget Plugin

    1 – Implement Advanced Search w/ specs in Widgets module
    2 – How it looks on live site
  • Simple Content Template: Freemium Plugin

    1 – Add New Post, then Load Template
    2 – Overwrite with new content, ensures uniformity
  • Organizing your content:
    Categories are hard!!

    I constantly revise my categories. Look at some of the prominent learning object repositories and maybe steal their ideas.
  • As of 2/25/16
    Live/In-person instruction vs Online Instruction
    Videos/Research Tools

    Often tweak/rearrange/add/consolidate, still working on perfecting…

    Helps to look at repositories you admire for category inspiration
  • You can expand the capabilities of your Wordpress hack repository with these plugins – I don’t have much direct experience with these other than doing research and playing with the free version of BadgeOS. We are going to implement an actual Moodle library course this fall instead of making Wordpress into an LMS, but we’ll see what happens!

    I also aim to make the tutorials downloadable as SCORM packages so that they can be uploaded into our university LMS and will talk to the gradebook.

    BadgeOS – “BadgeOS™ is a powerful free plugin to WordPress that lets you easily create achievements and issue sharable badges as your users succeed.”
    Based on Open Badges system, need to spend $$$ to make it effective

    Namaste! – “Namaste! LMS supports unlimited courses and lessons with very flexible access to each of them. You can create assignments, manage students, add notes, and more.”

    LearnDash – “a featured-packed LMS without all of the clunky set-up. Easily create and sell courses, deliver quizzes, award certificates, and download user reports.”

    There’s a lot more, for starters:

    Logos used under Fair Use:
  • Two big takeaways:
    Promote the value of your repository
    Change your culture to be supportive, open, sharing, and visibly invested in student success

  • The secret agenda to create OER: I educate my colleagues on Creative Commons when I wrangle their content
    The Beg, The Plead, The Cajole
    Use/assign Creative Commons licenses to all works, if possible
  • You can allow colleagues to automatically upload files with creative workarounds, like DropIt. Since it’s not a true repository, you have to figure out access the best you can.

    My colleague Letty adds video files to a Dropbox folder that she shares with me, and I configured DropIt to automatically copy those files to the mapped drive, giving her almost instant public access that she can share with students/faculty.

    I still have to create a record manually though.

    DropIt Download – “A flexible tool to automate processing & organizing files and folders.” /

    Screenshot used under Fair Use.
  • Promote, promote, promote!
    Link to records, don’t just give out files
    (I also put YouTube videos on there and a link to our subscription)
    Promote some more! (This is a reference AND instruction tool!)
  • Now, a little more on the culture shift…sharing resources will help out new instruction librarians!!

    Seriously, being a new librarian is exhausting. Help out your new librarians by sharing your work. They don’t know who to ask.

    You’ll also save them tons of time in prepping for classes, and they’ll have a better understanding of the teaching culture at your library. Librarians covering for each other can also quickly prep using existing materials.
  • No one knows how much instruction you do and how varied it is unless you show them.

    We have to justify our library’s existence. It may not be fair, but let’s be proud of what we do.

    A centralized showcase for all of your librarians’ hard work shows your enthusiasm for educating, and investment in your students’ success.
  • Finally, your repository can be used to host automated tutorials for your students to complete. On Pollak Library eLearning, I offer both hosted tutorials and in some cases the SCORM packages for download so they can be embedded into the school’s LMS.

    Long term: we are developing many more tutorials, and we are probably getting our own Moodle Library course where students can complete these to earn badges.

    Graphics on this slide are all my work.
  • Cons to using Wordpress:
    Not a true repository. Each post is a hack.
    Metadata is not searchable/indexable by search engine crawlers.
    Can’t just dump/Not upgradable to true repository.
    No batch updating posts. If you change your theme, it will probably be an issue
    If you wanted your content to be included in OER Commons, you would have to submit one item at a time still.
  • Pros to using Wordpress:
    Infinitely flexible
    So many free/cheap themes and plugins!
    Badges plugin! Badges earned integrate with Moodle.
    Many digital repositories may not be crawlable by search engines (dark/deep web), but Wordpress is crawlable

    Also: shift your culture to be open and sharing! Showcase your work! Support your new instruction librarians and better serve your online students!
  • Promoting your eLearning Repository – I just really liked this image. I try to shoot for Passionate.
  • Scale up your instruction!
  • Organization
    Categories are hard!!