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Developing WordPress blogs as shared educational resources: some practical tips

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These are the slides I prepared for an innovative Twitter conference held on 29th March 2018. The #PressEDconf18 event organised by Natalie Lafferty (@nlafferty) and Pat Lockley (@pgogy) focused on educational uses of WordPress. Each speaker had 15 tweets, one per minute for 15 minutes. I chose to plan my contribution out as a standard PowerPoint presentations for which I turned each slide into a separate JPG to embed in my tweets.

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Developing WordPress blogs as shared educational resources: some practical tips

  1. 1. Developing WordPress blogs as shared educational resources some practical tips #PressEDconf18 Dr Chris Willmott Dept of Molecular & Cell Biology University of Leicester cjrw2@le.ac.uk @cjrw
  2. 2. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources Who am I? • Teaching-focused academic in a UK Bioscience Dept • Particular interest in technology- enhanced teaching, esp - uses of broadcast media - uses of lecture-capture tech • Started first WordPress blog Bioethicsbytes in July 2006 @cjrw #PressEDconf18
  3. 3. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources My blogs: most active current @cjrw #PressEDconf18 lefthandedbiochemist.wordpress.com general education issues since 2007 biosciencecareers.wordpress.com careers advice for students since 2009 biologyonthebox.wordpress.com media coverage of bioscience since 2014
  4. 4. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources Aim of presentation • After >11 years running edublogs on WordPress have various tips & suggestions to offer • Some learned the hard way • Offer a checklist of considerations for new & potential edubloggers • Sure list not complete, and there may be disagreement – please comment using the hashtag @cjrw #PressEDconf18
  5. 5. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 1. What is the purpose of site? • Crucial question, but easily overlooked • e.g. Is aim simply to raise awareness of a resource or to provide worked examples of how it can be used in teaching? • Breadth & Scope: e.g. “Physics” or “Astrophysics”? “Geography” or “Glaciology”? @cjrw #PressEDconf18
  6. 6. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 2. Who are anticipated audience? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Who do you picture as main audience for your blog? (assuming resource is open access, there may well be diverse others) • Is site primarily for: - other academics? - undergraduate students? - general public?
  7. 7. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 3. Who will be authoring posts? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Who do you picture writing articles, reviews, etc for your blog? - single academic? - team of academics? - undergraduates? - postgraduates? - graduate interns? • Links to purpose: e.g. undergrads can write review but unlikely to be able to produce “lesson plan”
  8. 8. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 3b. Who will be authoring posts? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Will all authors be from same HEI or will several universities be involved? • Intuitively favour one shared resource over lots of similar projects, but increases complexity of site management (see point 6)
  9. 9. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 4. Why would they contribute? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Why will contributors to the resource wish to do so? • Academics: - intellectual curiosity? - communal benefit? “Many hands… light work”? • Students: - intellectual curiosity? - grist for CV? - payment? - assessed activity?
  10. 10. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 4b. Why would they contribute? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Blog contribution as “authentic assessment” • Attractive model, but anything produced and shared in this way will be available for subsequent cohorts - good: provides necessary exemplars - bad: will need some constraint (e.g. dates) to reduce temptation for plagiarism
  11. 11. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 5. Where will blog be hosted? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Unsurprisingly, in current context, favour WordPress • May also be place for some materials on VLE, e.g. course specific
  12. 12. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 6. Who will curate the site? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Starting a resource is easy  keeping it going is much harder • More contributors (esp from >1 institution) increases complexity, e.g. re quality control • What WordPress “role” will you offer other writers? Contributor? Author? Editor? Administrator? • Control of quality & consistency v Work-life balance and well-being
  13. 13. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources 7. Frequency of posting? @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Frequent posting (and as swift as possible for time- dependent material) is ideal • This is also huge commitment • Will your resource still be useful if posting is sporadic (and delayed)?
  14. 14. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources See also… • A version of this presentation was recently share on the #ALTC blog https://bit.ly/2pJDAG2 @cjrw #PressEDconf18
  15. 15. WordPress blogs as shared educational resources Acknowledgements @cjrw #PressEDconf18 • Thanks to Alan Cann (@AJCann) early enthuser for educational use of Twitter, WordPress, Delicious, etc • Authors and curators of the [Subject]OnTheBox sites • University of Leicester for granting study leave • Natalie Lafferty (@nlafferty) & Pat Lockley (@pgogy) for initiating this e-conference Thank you – any questions?

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