Replied to WordPress of One's Own: Or, thinking through creating a not intimidating menu of options for domain installs by AlanaCallanAlanaCallan (Reclaim Hosting Community)

Hey there,

New and just wading in here :blush: I work at Fleming College in our Learning Design and Support team/department

Our medium sized college has always offered our students and faculty a choice in terms of the platform they choose to use: Wordpress, tumblr, weebly, medium, etc., mostly because we didn’t have anything else to offer them other than the LMS that was supported by the institution.

This past September our communication courses for first year have been using wordpress.com (mostly) as they were encouraged by the teaching faculty who were also using wordpress.com sites for their own writing. The redesigned communication courses have the students learning to write, give and receive feedback, and loop through this cycle several times for an authentic audience. First semester focuses on personal writing, the second focuses on professional writing.

(just wanted to provide some context for my reply - they had to go with wordpress.com as there was no plan or budget to do a local install or have it hosted for the college)

Feedback from the faculty teaching team after teaching for almost 8 weeks is how to template and simplify space for students to use, here is a direct quote: “could we create dedicated blog page for students that would be a pre-made, fool-proof template? When a student’s WordPress blog does not work and we can’t fix the problem, it is very frustrating to be helpless beside an exasperated student.”

I am inclined to suggest freeing up the expectation that the student’s use wordpress and that they instead use a platform that they may already be familiar with (like tumblr etc.,) and create a space AND use categories/titles that are consistent so that the faculty can go in and review, comment, provide feedback etc., easily.

Many students may choose to use wordpress either way but…

One thing that we do here that may help the conversation is that our library holds workshops to assist students in creating their online presence, creative commons, attribution etc.,

I’m interested in any thoughts or feedback on how to approach the our communication faculty request… am I heading in the right direction??

Thanks!!

Alana

There may be a bit of a path forward here that some might consider using that has some fantastic flexibility.

There is a WordPress plugin called Micropub (which needs to be used in conjunction with the IndieAuth plugin for authentication to their CMS account) that will allow students to log into various writing/posting applications.

These are usually slimmed down interfaces that don’t provide the panoply of editing options that the Gutenberg interface or Classic editor metabox interfaces do. Quill is a good example of this and has a Medium.com like interface. iA Writer is a solid markdown editor that has this functionality as well (though I think it only works on iOS presently).

Students can write and then post from these, but still have the option to revisit within the built in editors to add any additional bells and whistles they might like if they’re so inclined.

This system is a bit like SPLOTs, but has a broader surface area and flexibility. I’ll also mention that many of the Micropub clients are open source, so if one were inclined they could build their own custom posting interface specific to their exact needs. Even further, other CMSes like Known, Drupal, etc. either support this web specification out of the box or with plugins, so if you built a custom interface it could work just as well with other platforms that aren’t just WordPress. This means that in a class where different students have chosen a variety of ways to set up their Domains, they can be exposed to a broader variety of editing tools or if the teacher chooses, they could be given a single editing interface that is exactly the same for everyone despite using different platforms.

For those who’d like to delve further, I did a WordPress-focused crash course session on the idea a while back: Micropub and WordPress: Custom Posting Applications at WordCamp Santa Clarita 2019 (slides).

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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