Okay, so it’s not that fancy, but I’m pretty excited that I got the following to work.
So in my PHIL 102 (Introduction to Philosophy) course this summer, I took one of the sections of the course and did a little bit of a “flip” of it, where I asked students to watch some videos ahead of class, in addition to doing the reading, so I wouldn’t have to do all the lecture in class and we could spend more time face-to-face on what F2F is good at: discussion, interaction.
But I wanted them to also do some kind of activity with the videos so the material sinks in a bit better, and to connect the work outside of class with the videos to the work inside class with the activities. So I decided to ask them to post comments on one of two discussion questions, and I would bring their answers into class to share, and talk about them a bit.
But I didn’t know how to do that on WordPress until I became part of a team of designers and facilitators for a course on Teaching with WordPress. One of the people designing the site set up our front page so that we could show announcements on it, using a shortcode. I copied this idea for the PHIL 102 class. You can see the page where I embedded the discussions, here.
I made each of the two discussion questions a post under the category “discussions.” Then I used the following shortcode on the page linked above to get them onto the page: [loop query=”posts_per_page=3&category_name=discussions” view=”archive”] That requires a plugin that allows for the “loop” shortcode: loop shortcode plugin, made by people at UBC. That’s the same code we use on the front page of the Teaching with WordPress site to get the “latest updates” to show up.
Then, I just asked students to comment on those posts. I told them they could make up a fake name, or use their initials, or use their real name if they wanted. I always want to give them the option of not posting publicly if they choose.
I think it worked pretty well. There was good discussion on the two pages. I’m not sure how well it would work if I had a big class, though–this one is only 40 students, so the discussion didn’t get overwhelming where you have to scroll for days.