Week 2: Affordances of WordPress

Week 2: Sketching on the Blank Slate: Affordances of WordPress

You’re designing a web not a website.

– Stephen Downes From his talk: Design Elements in a Personal Learning Environment.

This week, we will:

  • Discuss how the WordPress environment can be used to support varied teaching and learning goals.
  • Share strategies for designing assessment and learning activities in WordPress
  • Reflect on benefits and limitations of using WordPress for teaching and learning
  • Build, refine your WordPress course environment and post for feedback on design decisions.

computerMonday June 8, 12-1pm Pacific (3pm Eastern, 19:00 UTC): WordPress for teaching webinar. Join Christina Hendricks, Alan Levine, and Tannis Morgan for a deep dive (or shallow wade?) into the WordPress waters to talk about various ways in which we use WordPress for teaching and learning. This will be on Google Hangouts, broadcast live on YouTube. You can watch the recording here.

Suggested Topics

Overview of how WordPress is a flexible, blank-slate tool
Examples of different teaching and learning approaches using WordPress
Applying open pedagogies specifically to WordPress
Strategies for supporting common teaching and learning needs, including:

* Logins
* Contributing content
* Discussions
* Assessments

Curated Readings

WordPress 101

Affordances of Educational Technology

  • Reclaiming Innovation - Brian Lamb & Jim Groom's Educause article that explores the question "What goals and strategies should we be pursuing if we want to reclaim innovation as a positive force as higher education continues to engage with digital and networked technologies?"
  • The Future of Education: Programmed or Programmable Audrey Watters explores the future of Education and Ed-Tech: "To transform education and education technology to make it "future-facing” means we do have to address what exactly we think education should look like now and in the future. Do we want programmed instruction? Do we want teaching machines? Do we want videotaped lectures? Do we want content delivery systems? Or do we want education that is more student-centered, more networked-focused."
  • Beyond the LMS - Audrey Waters argues that education technology should move beyond the LMS model: "Ed-tech must not be about building digital walls around students and content and courses. We have, thanks to the Web, an opportunity to build connections, build networks, not walls "

Discussions, Assessments, Interactions, Contributions

Issues, Challenges, Opportunities


Student Privacy

source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:TWP2015/Readings/Week_2

Learning Activities

In week 2, you’re invited to engage:

oneperson On Your Own

read Read the assigned readings, which will consist of a curated list of resources on teaching with WordPress
contribute Choose one or two learning goals from your own course and explore in a blog post on your own site how they could be accomplished in WordPress. Comment on someone else’s post.
contribute Explore
some of the open course examples you'll be introduced to this week.
watch Watch
short videos highlighting different teaching and learning projects using WordPress:

contribute Implement prototype architecture for your course in WordPress. See Activity Support Notes for more information.
reflect40x40 Reflect
Week 2: Reflection/Self Assessment Guide. You can either post this to your blog or keep it for your own use.

twopeople With Others

contribute Participate in a synchronous video/audio chat about using WordPress for teaching and learning
contribute Contribute an assignment to the assignment bank, based on the learning goal and activity discussed in your post.
reuse-01 Post/Discuss (in comments or blogs posts on the "weeklies" for week 2) the following topics:
* What are the benefits and risks involved in open learning environments? For you? For learners? Respond to someone else's post as well.
* What does "designing a web" mean in the context of your course/project? Please respond to someone else's post as well.
twitter Tweet using the course twitter hashtag to:

  • share an open resource that reflects your philosophy on what constitutes effective design for open.
  • share a link to WordPress course site that you like - tell us why.
  • your “big question” for the week (include #quest with #TWP15)

Activity Support Notes

Choosing Learning Goals

It is useful to be clear about your goals for supporting learning and consider how they might be supported by learning activities, interactions and assessments in the WordPress platform and in open teaching and learning. By communicating these goals it can assist learners direct their effort, monitor their progress and provide them with signposts and milestones as they complete the course, or activity. As an instructor they can help you to select content and activities.

Angelo and Cross developed a Teaching Goals Inventory that may be quite helpful to you in assessing the sorts of learning that you focus your efforts on as a teacher. They have an online inventory for self assessment.

Carnegie Mellon University offers an excellent resource on the the value of learning objectives in promoting student learning.

Background on Learning Goals

Course goals are broad statements about what learners will have achieved by the end of the course. They are meant to be enduring and will provide the basis for the development of learning objectives, which are more specific and fine-tuned. Using the metaphor of your course as a building, the course goals might be the foundation and the objectives the scaffolding - important to the construction, but not the same as the foundation.


Taxonomies can be helpful in preparing to write course goals. These may include:

Well written course goals often have the following characteristics:

  • Descriptive and Learner-Centered: "What will learners be able to do, apply, connect, demonstrate as a result of their learning in the course?"
  • Measurable (for you and learners): "How will you (and learners) know when they have achieved this?"
  • Clear and understandable: "Will the learner know what this means?"
  • Appropriately general: "Is this an overarching goal appropriate to the completion of the course?"
  • Suited to the level of the course
  • Leading to authentic, real-world applications.

Explore learning goals for your WordPress Course.

  1. Choose one or two learning goals from your own course and explore in a blog post on your own site how they could be accomplished in WordPress. Consider how you will assess these learning goals? What learning activities specific to open teaching or WordPress may be effective in achieving these goals?
  2. Comment on someone else’s post. In your comments discuss learning goals that you have used in WordPress courses, and challenges and constraints you have run into and strategies you have used to deal with them. What other activities might be useful in meeting these course goals?

Implement prototype architecture for your course in WordPress.

For this exercise, you might:

  • Have a conversation with yourself about the design (some suggested questions to get you started under First Steps).
  • Prototype with a drawing. Consider the sort of course "web" you need to build to support learning around your course themes, questions, intentions. Draw this out using a piece of paper and a pencil to start or , if you prefer to keep everything digital, choose your favorite drawing app or mindmapping tool. It is helpful to start simple with a prototype and work from there. Once you have something you think will work:
  • Create the structure in your WordPress course (or refine what you already have).
  • Save your drawing - you may want to use it in your blog post or screencast when it comes time to share your work in progress in Week 3.

First Steps

Prior to implementing a design, structure for your course, it may be useful to have a conversation with yourself about exactly how you expect learners to interact with the course. As you consider these questions, note down any practices that you need to learn more about or search for plug-ins that may fit your goals.

Consider elements of effective design for an open course:

  • Autonomy: How will you emphasize choice (in terms of learning pathway, approach, interests, etc? Is it important that learners share their goals for the course, if so how will you implement an approach for this? How will learner's know what your goals are? Are they explicit linked to assessment practices and activities?
  • Openness: in terms of access, content, activities and assessment. Are you using open resources, readings, texts, etc.? Are there certain aspects of the course that require privacy? If so, how will you set this up? Will your participants be added to your course (as users) or are you bringing them together via other strategies (using feeds for example). What role will learners play in assessing their/others'work? What role will you play? What strategies do you need to support that work?
  • Interactivity: How will learners be interacting with one another in the course? Where will discussions take place? How will learners share their work? In what ways will you encourage the practice of "uncoverage"? Mark Sample provides a basic overview of this concept in this article.
  • Diversity: How will you account for multiple ways of representing ideas? How might varied perspectives be acknowledged in course interactions? What strategies will you use to encourage/support diversity of perspectives and a respectful climate for exchange of ideas?
  • Way finding: what strategies will you use to orient your learners to the course and its networks and processes?

Help With WordPress

Contribute an assignment to the assignment bank.

The "assignment bank" we have set up for this course is designed to house assignments that instructors might give to their students for doing activities or assessments in WordPress. We have created a few sample assignments and put them in the assignment bank already, but it would be great to have more to share with other participants in the course, as well as people who come to this site after the course is finished. Your assignment could be something as simple as asking student to participate in a discussion in some way, or to post larger projects, or to submit work for assessment, or anything else you can think of.

Please go to the assignment bank submission form and submit your assignment idea!

source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:TWP2015/Activities/week2

One comment

  1. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site.

    Thanks, I’ll try and check back more frequently.
    How frequently you update your website?

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