Tag Archives: wordpress

Examples of Teaching with WordPress at UBC

Here’s a quick (well not that quick) screencast I put together as part of the Teaching with WordPress course. In the video, I highlight some of the different approaches and use cases of how WP is being used for teaching and learning at UBC. Here’s the specific courses and plugs-in that I mention:

SoilWeb200: http://soilweb200.landfood.ubc.ca/
Video Game Law: http://videogame.law.ubc.ca/
Phys101: http://blogs.ubc.ca/phys101/
Arts One Open: http://artsone-open.arts.ubc.ca/
Arts One Seminar: http://a1hendricks.arts.ubc.ca/

Gravity Forms: http://www.gravityforms.com/
Wiki Embed Plug in: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wiki-em…

Apologies for all of the scrolling!

Rampages Growth Plotted

As part of the gen ed seminar I pulled the rampages.us user signup data for Kristina Anthony. It was just a straight export from the wp_users table and stripped of everything but the date. She pulled it into Excel and used a pivot table to make it manageable. Which is awesome. So I pulled it down and pushed it back up into Google Docs so that I could embed the chart in this post.

It makes me feel better to look at the growth over what amounts to around a year of actual use. I tend to focus on places for improvement (and there are many) but it’s worth looking at what ALT Lab has managed to achieve in a fairly short period of time.1 The July to February jump of about 6000 users is pretty insane. I have every expectation that we’ll add another 6000 or so users next year. Things will certainly only get more interesting.

This has been done without huge student training initiatives. For the most part faculty members are able to support their own students. We have some of that filter up and we deal with some troubleshooting online but there’s no dedicated person(s) to support WordPress issues or train students. That’s a testament to WordPress.


1 In the higher ed dimension a year is equivalent to 6 mins in other dimensions. So this was really, really fast.

Teaching with WordPress via Curated Readings on Open Learning

While I have not finished processing my experiences with #rhizo15, I seem to have fallen into the clutches of another fascinating, open course, Teaching with WordPress. For those who may be interested in checking it out, the Twitter tag and conversations occur here #TWP15. Now, I have been using WordPress for years for my blog, … Continue reading "Teaching with WordPress via Curated Readings on Open Learning"

WordPress Comment Subscriptions by Category


flickr photo shared by duncan under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

It’s particularly helpful in a rather specific situation- i.e. one where you’re doing a mother blog and want to see all the student comments (like Allen did with the #thoughtvectors reader) but since we have students using their blogs for more than one class things get messy fast.

Enter me asking smarter people on Twitter, almost going to the forsaken land of Yahoo Pipes,1 and being saved by Google liking Mark more than me.

So anyway, here’s the structure to get the comments for specific categories/tags.

  • by name – http://bionicteaching.com/comments/feed/?category_name=apple
  • by category ID – http://bionicteaching.com/comments/feed/?cat=18
  • by tag name – http://bionicteaching.com/comments/feed/?tag=tutorial-2

This is one of those things that barely rates a post but given I didn’t know how to do it maybe it’ll help some other wanderer and for people who want this it’ll be really useful. Thanks to Mark, Alan, and Martin for helping me out.


1 I like Yahoo Pipes but one has to assume Yahoo will kill it dead very soon . . . although I’ve been hearing that for several years.

There’s a First Time For Everything… My First Plugin

I’ve been using WordPress since 2005, hacking themes since 2008, and doing a whole lot more since then.. yet I have never written a plugin. All of my custom code has been done in theme templates and functions.php files

Well, now I have done so, without spilling much blood.

This is also the first time I have written something with a proper PHP class.

As usual I came across a wide swath of how to posts, many of them as helpful as echoing Hello World level complexity. I found Francis Yaconiello’s How to write a WordPress plugin good for giving a solid foundation for elements to include, I plucked bits from the WordPress Plugin Developer Guidelines. And because my plugin needed to create and respond to a form, jaskokyn’s How to Create a WordPress Admin Form was of assistance too.

I do find it worth noting that I rarely get my answer in a single tutorial, I have to mix and match (and discard often).

Do not get to excited, this is not very exciting. And I bet Martin Hawksey has already done something way more elaborate.

The folks I am working with on DML Commons are doing some research on the interactions and were looking for some data from the blog syndication. I’ve looked at a smattering of WordPress stats tools, and they all are like log data, and are presented only to the admin side. I was thinking there might be something that does slick charts and graphs and stuff for the public side (I bet there is, one cannot find everything out there).

But there was nothing even I could find that would give them some basic data by category for the syndicated posts (things brought into the blog hub via Feed WordPress). My first effort was to do a one off custom script that generated the following in CSV format:

  • post ID
  • source indicated (either ‘local’ or ‘syndicated’)
  • post title
  • publication date and time
  • author name (first and last name from profile, this is added to user profiles via the gravity form signup thing I built)
  • author username on site
  • blog name (host blog or remote blog if syndicated post)
  • ost character count (string character count after HTML stripped out)
  • post word count (after HTML stripped out)
  • number of links in post (count of ” tags)
  • list of hyperlink urls (from all href= tags, hoping my regex is on target)

I set up a duplicate of the site on a dev server, and sent them a few links to export the data for the two different strands, Professional PathWays and Design Research (because of the syndication design, these posts get put into categories). This was supposed to be just a test of the functionality.

They said, “thanks this is perfect!”

Hmmm.

I really need to start rolling some of my things into plugins so they can be use elsewhere w/o needing the theme hacking.

So in a few hours this morning I got a working plugin, now a very alpha version on github as Export Post Data to CSV. When activated, it adds a Post CSV Export item to the WordPress Tools menu. Nothing sophisticated:

My big fat plugin
My big fat plugin

You can choose to export data on all posts, or from within a category. The wp_dropdown_categories() function is handy as it can generate the menu, including an item for All Categories, keeping the category hierarchy, and even including a post count. I have it running here on my blog:

CogDogBlog Sloppy Category menu selector
CogDogBlog Sloppy Category menu selector

Then you click the Blue Button.

The script generates the CSV data which you then choose where to download. I did an export on my category for Syndicated posts from my Barking Dog Studios site (I bring in posts there from a category on that site I go “inside the photo”).

Boom! Barking Dog Category CSV Data

Screen shot of CSV data
Screen shot of CSV data

I do not know how helpful this kind of data per post is. Ideally we’d like to cross it by time maybe with twitter data. What else might there be worth extracting from posts? I can already see that I could get tags and categories.

This on its own is not big, but now I have the method started. For the upcoming #vcubrb projects, I am hoping to roll into a plugin a lot of the functionality I have been hand coding into the Feed WordPress sites I have been building. This way we could potentially make it easier for people to create a Connected Course. I can see having:

  • A Shortcode for adding a user sign up form, without needing gravity forms (including the logic to add the data to Feed WordPress directly
  • The Shortcodes I use for generating the blog lists
  • A script to generate OPML feeds for categories of blogs

But at least now I have grown up, written a plugin, and can shave like a big boy.

Opening #TWP15

Opening #TWP15

I'll be diving in and out of the open course on Teaching With WordPress and wanted to get the obligatory "Hi this is me" post out of the way. I'm actually excited to see a structured course develop on helping folks think about using WordPress for teaching and learning because I think even today so many years after its inception and with WordPress powering 25% of the web, there's still a real stigma around WordPress as "just a blogging platform" that has little to contribute in your classroom. And that couldn't be further from the truth, yet from the moment you install WordPress it certainly does make its roots as a blog known. To go beyond requires a better understand of not just how you use it, but also why you should.

Perhaps I should just point out the irony and hypocrisy now that you're reading this post on my site which actually isn't running WordPress. Feel free to discount anything I say from here on out. :) Truth be told, I'm a victim of always playing at the fringes and while I do use WordPress for many things (Including this side-project I started over the weekend), I've been experimenting on this blog using Ghost for about a year now and it fits my current needs of a simple writing platform that gets out of the way and just lets me write. But to build a course, to inspire your students to build with WordPress, requires (sometimes) more than just a writing tool. And I think that's where WordPress shines, in its ability to refuse to be any one thing at all. It's a flexible platform to enable you to create just about anything, once you've learned how to use it (like any tool).

I should also mention I run Reclaim Hosting which the TWP folks were nice enough to recommend as a great platform for getting a domain and getting up and running with WordPress. That certainly was one of the goals when Jim and I started Reclaim 2 years ago. Jim wrote a great post recently that talks a bit more about our goals and ethos at Reclaim Hosting which I think is extremely relevant to this discussion as well. Truth is that caveat of needing to know how to use a tool is often the biggest barrier of all, the point at which many are tempted to pack it all up. Courses like this can support you, using services like Reclaim Hosting can support you, as a network we can support each other.

In fact I think that's an important takeaway from the first discussion of the what and why of Open Pedagogy, that the support of a network is rarely possible in closed spaces. I don't use your LMS and most others one the web likely have very little idea about the ins and outs of whatever proprietary platforms your institution might be holding up as possibilities. But many of us are using WordPress. We're using Known. We're using a variety of tools for the web that are open and flexible to imagine new possibilities and theres a lot of comfort in being a part of that network.

The first week also made me realize I don't have a proper license on this site so now I'm off to grab one and add it to my theme here. Looking forward to the discussions!

Opening #TWP15

Opening #TWP15

I'll be diving in and out of the open course on Teaching With WordPress and wanted to get the obligatory "Hi this is me" post out of the way. I'm actually excited to see a structured course develop on helping folks think about using WordPress for teaching and learning because I think even today so many years after its inception and with WordPress powering 25% of the web, there's still a real stigma around WordPress as "just a blogging platform" that has little to contribute in your classroom. And that couldn't be further from the truth, yet from the moment you install WordPress it certainly does make its roots as a blog known. To go beyond requires a better understand of not just how you use it, but also why you should.

Perhaps I should just point out the irony and hypocrisy now that you're reading this post on my site which actually isn't running WordPress. Feel free to discount anything I say from here on out. :) Truth be told, I'm a victim of always playing at the fringes and while I do use WordPress for many things (Including this side-project I started over the weekend), I've been experimenting on this blog using Ghost for about a year now and it fits my current needs of a simple writing platform that gets out of the way and just lets me write. But to build a course, to inspire your students to build with WordPress, requires (sometimes) more than just a writing tool. And I think that's where WordPress shines, in its ability to refuse to be any one thing at all. It's a flexible platform to enable you to create just about anything, once you've learned how to use it (like any tool).

I should also mention I run Reclaim Hosting which the TWP folks were nice enough to recommend as a great platform for getting a domain and getting up and running with WordPress. That certainly was one of the goals when Jim and I started Reclaim 2 years ago. Jim wrote a great post recently that talks a bit more about our goals and ethos at Reclaim Hosting which I think is extremely relevant to this discussion as well. Truth is that caveat of needing to know how to use a tool is often the biggest barrier of all, the point at which many are tempted to pack it all up. Courses like this can support you, using services like Reclaim Hosting can support you, as a network we can support each other.

In fact I think that's an important takeaway from the first discussion of the what and why of Open Pedagogy, that the support of a network is rarely possible in closed spaces. I don't use your LMS and most others one the web likely have very little idea about the ins and outs of whatever proprietary platforms your institution might be holding up as possibilities. But many of us are using WordPress. We're using Known. We're using a variety of tools for the web that are open and flexible to imagine new possibilities and theres a lot of comfort in being a part of that network.

The first week also made me realize I don't have a proper license on this site so now I'm off to grab one and add it to my theme here. Looking forward to the discussions!

Opening #TWP15

Opening #TWP15

I'll be diving in and out of the open course on Teaching With WordPress and wanted to get the obligatory "Hi this is me" post out of the way. I'm actually excited to see a structured course develop on helping folks think about using WordPress for teaching and learning because I think even today so many years after its inception and with WordPress powering 25% of the web, there's still a real stigma around WordPress as "just a blogging platform" that has little to contribute in your classroom. And that couldn't be further from the truth, yet from the moment you install WordPress it certainly does make its roots as a blog known. To go beyond requires a better understand of not just how you use it, but also why you should.

Perhaps I should just point out the irony and hypocrisy now that you're reading this post on my site which actually isn't running WordPress. Feel free to discount anything I say from here on out. :) Truth be told, I'm a victim of always playing at the fringes and while I do use WordPress for many things (Including this side-project I started over the weekend), I've been experimenting on this blog using Ghost for about a year now and it fits my current needs of a simple writing platform that gets out of the way and just lets me write. But to build a course, to inspire your students to build with WordPress, requires (sometimes) more than just a writing tool. And I think that's where WordPress shines, in its ability to refuse to be any one thing at all. It's a flexible platform to enable you to create just about anything, once you've learned how to use it (like any tool).

I should also mention I run Reclaim Hosting which the TWP folks were nice enough to recommend as a great platform for getting a domain and getting up and running with WordPress. That certainly was one of the goals when Jim and I started Reclaim 2 years ago. Jim wrote a great post recently that talks a bit more about our goals and ethos at Reclaim Hosting which I think is extremely relevant to this discussion as well. Truth is that caveat of needing to know how to use a tool is often the biggest barrier of all, the point at which many are tempted to pack it all up. Courses like this can support you, using services like Reclaim Hosting can support you, as a network we can support each other.

In fact I think that's an important takeaway from the first discussion of the what and why of Open Pedagogy, that the support of a network is rarely possible in closed spaces. I don't use your LMS and most others one the web likely have very little idea about the ins and outs of whatever proprietary platforms your institution might be holding up as possibilities. But many of us are using WordPress. We're using Known. We're using a variety of tools for the web that are open and flexible to imagine new possibilities and theres a lot of comfort in being a part of that network.

The first week also made me realize I don't have a proper license on this site so now I'm off to grab one and add it to my theme here. Looking forward to the discussions!

Opening #TWP15

Opening #TWP15

I'll be diving in and out of the open course on Teaching With WordPress and wanted to get the obligatory "Hi this is me" post out of the way. I'm actually excited to see a structured course develop on helping folks think about using WordPress for teaching and learning because I think even today so many years after its inception and with WordPress powering 25% of the web, there's still a real stigma around WordPress as "just a blogging platform" that has little to contribute in your classroom. And that couldn't be further from the truth, yet from the moment you install WordPress it certainly does make its roots as a blog known. To go beyond requires a better understand of not just how you use it, but also why you should.

Perhaps I should just point out the irony and hypocrisy now that you're reading this post on my site which actually isn't running WordPress. Feel free to discount anything I say from here on out. :) Truth be told, I'm a victim of always playing at the fringes and while I do use WordPress for many things (Including this side-project I started over the weekend), I've been experimenting on this blog using Ghost for about a year now and it fits my current needs of a simple writing platform that gets out of the way and just lets me write. But to build a course, to inspire your students to build with WordPress, requires (sometimes) more than just a writing tool. And I think that's where WordPress shines, in its ability to refuse to be any one thing at all. It's a flexible platform to enable you to create just about anything, once you've learned how to use it (like any tool).

I should also mention I run Reclaim Hosting which the TWP folks were nice enough to recommend as a great platform for getting a domain and getting up and running with WordPress. That certainly was one of the goals when Jim and I started Reclaim 2 years ago. Jim wrote a great post recently that talks a bit more about our goals and ethos at Reclaim Hosting which I think is extremely relevant to this discussion as well. Truth is that caveat of needing to know how to use a tool is often the biggest barrier of all, the point at which many are tempted to pack it all up. Courses like this can support you, using services like Reclaim Hosting can support you, as a network we can support each other.

In fact I think that's an important takeaway from the first discussion of the what and why of Open Pedagogy, that the support of a network is rarely possible in closed spaces. I don't use your LMS and most others one the web likely have very little idea about the ins and outs of whatever proprietary platforms your institution might be holding up as possibilities. But many of us are using WordPress. We're using Known. We're using a variety of tools for the web that are open and flexible to imagine new possibilities and theres a lot of comfort in being a part of that network.

The first week also made me realize I don't have a proper license on this site so now I'm off to grab one and add it to my theme here. Looking forward to the discussions!

Teaching with WordPress

I’m compelled by the Teaching with WordPress open course the folks at UBC are running over the next few weeks. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, something I have spent countless hours talking about on this blog. In fact, the infrastructure they’re using to aggregate this post is something I finally settled upon for UMW Blogs‘s aggregation model (and subsequently the blog hub for ds106 and UMW Domains) after a long conversation with Andre Malan at Northern Voice in 2008—a conference that was hosted at UBC. It’s all connected.

ds106 theme overhaul

I think the simple fact we have been returning again and again to WordPress over the last decade at UMW illustrates just how easy it is to build on top of this open source platform. It’s pretty crazy just how much you can do with it. I’ve already mentioned building a pretty sophisticated aggregation platform as just one example of what’s possible. When it comes to ds106, we were able to use WordPress to build an entire open course ecosystem: Martha Burtis built the ds106 assignment bankTim Owens built the Daily CreateAlan Levine built the Remix Machine, and two UMW students taking ds106 (Linda McKenna and Rachel McGuirk) created in[Spire]. Truly building the airplane while flying.

ds106 in[SPIRE]

Whether for a one-off course or an entire ecosystem, it’s hard to argue with the simplicity of use and expansive community that undergirds WordPress. The idea is not to rebuild the LMS, although some try with WordPress, but to actually reposition your teaching to become part and parcel of the web. That’s a shift WordPress has made simple for us over the last decade because faculty and students could wrap their head around it. WordPress exists in the sweet spot between ease-of-use and robust options for building an entire application on top of it. In comparison, Drupal was designed for those more complex applications, yet never addressed the ease-of-use and interface concerns. The result is CMS history: WordPress powers a quarter of all sites on the web, and Drupal has become a niche application for self-loathing sysadmins ????

I’m looking forward to using the Teaching with WordPress experience as an excuse to look at all the work we have done with WordPress for teaching from 2005, when having RSS built-in seemed insane, up and until just last week, when Ryan Brazell ran a DataPress workshop for UMW faculty focused on building research databases on top of WordPress using the Toolset plugin suite.