I have recently posted about a WordPress education email list I joined and was pretty excited about. Well, less than two weeks later I am a bit confused by what exactly Automattic is thinking with this list. It’s moderated by Douglass Hanna, and he just sent out the following message to the list talking about creating an “Implementation Guide” for using WordPress in education. I’ll reproduce it below:
Thanks for coming up with such great discussions and contributing so much to this list. As part of my role helping with WordPress for Education, I’m creating an “Implementation Guide” that we will make available to educators and administrators. The idea is to have a nice downloadable/printable PDF that will explain WordPress, why it’s good for education, and how to make it happen.
Here is the tentative (and still incomplete outline) for what we’re
going to include:
Welcome to WordPress for Education
Table of Contents
What is WordPress?
Who uses WordPress?
WordPress for Education Overview
How WordPress Can Be Used at Your School
WordPress on the Campus
WordPress in the Classroom
Getting Stated With WordPress
Where to Get Additional Information
I’d really love to hear your ideas and suggestions. You are the people who have tried to convince administrators (hopefully successfully!) that WordPress is the way to go and is a great option and then tried to make it all happen. What would have been helpful to you initially?
(Keep in mind your suggestions don’t have to fit within the confines on this document. We’re also going to have a web site at
edu.wordpress.com (under construction) that will have additional information.)
Thanks so much.
Automattic | WordPress.com
Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with this, put I was hoping the list would be about sharing ideas and possibilities between people and a community, not building a brochure for Automattic. I mean, many people are already having this discussion in a distributed environment, why push for a captured email audience to so quickly do it for them. Maybe I am wrong, maybe that is exactly what they should do. Maybe I am way too deep into all this crap to have any perspective. I have no problem with them reaching out to the education community—that’s what they should do—but as a means to push their product for the product’s sake, rather than the transformation a tool like WordPress affords is missing the boat for me, and that is how the message came off to me. I like WordPress only so far as it enables me to do something with teaching and learning in higher ed, and the space is important, and design is crucial, and flexibility is a necessity–I admit all this. But, the thing that has made this application special for me is the conversations about and around it between people who see it as a means to end, not the end in and of itself.
So, anyway, here was my response:
Not to be a stick in the mud, but this conversation has been going on throughout the education/edtech blogosphere for a while. And WordPress is usually just a touchstone. Is this list intended to be a space for warehousing that information and then re-packaging it to push WordPress as a product rather than a process for thinking through the implications of the new state of publishing for education?
I mean WordPress is great and all, and many have used it to some great advantage, but it seems like you are suggesting we participate in the creation of an Automattic brochure devoid of the personal relations that foster the community that has made WordPress what it is. All of which kind of seems strange to me. The conversation is in progress, why not follow and join it where it is happening if you are the education evangelist for WordPress. That seems more relevant then creating a pdf for a mass mailer?
I don’t know, just seems that once we formalize the discussion around WordPress as product too much, the joy of thinking through possibilities kind of evaporates.
So, I don’t know, I’m feeling off these days any way, but am I wrong? AM I WRONG?!