Well, maybe not eternity, but certainly beyond graduation! 🙂
Mike Caulfield, my new favorite blogger, has been talking about the value of having students work with a web-based authoring platform that they can actually use after they graduate:
And because the students worked with real tools (and possibly even on real problems) they’d graduate with bankable skills rather than detailed knowledge of how to use an LMS that has no analogue in the outside world. [Read entire post here.]
“Amen,” says the reverend. To further demonstrate Mike’s point through some anecdotal data (my favorite kind!), I recently got the following e-mail from Rebecca Parsons (reproduced with her permission), who was one of the stellar students who worked on the Literary Journal Nonce:
I hope you’re having a great summer! I’ve moved to ******** for the summer and am continuing an internship I was doing with Greg Stanton on a conference he’s planning (and that I get to go to!). I made a new website for them (www.genocidescholars.org) and blog (genocidescholars.org/blog) and wordpress has entered my life in a new forum! Unfortunately, I have a problem that didn’t come up with Nonce, so I’m not sure what to do and was wondering if you could help me with it. .. I have to paste in a 97 page document which has a lot of foreign characters in it. If it were shorter, I’d just go through and take them all out, but it’d be almost impossible with this. Right now, wordpress will not accept the text at all. Is there an easy way or plugin to fix this? I did a search in the support forums but didn’t find too much. I’d be really grateful for any help you can give!
The solution was simple, as all things with WordPress are, but more importantly Rebecca is now using WordPress to help organize a scholarly conference dealing with the issue of genocide in more recent instantiations like Darfur and Yugoslavia. Not only does this suggest that we are giving students a valuable experience that they can take with them as they enter “different forums,” as she puts it so wonderfully. But, in this case, it illustrates that because this tool is so malleable for publishing content, RSS ready out-of-the-box, and search engine friendly -a whole lot of people beyond the conference participants may have access to scholarly resources about a global issue as urgently critical as genocide. Good for you, Rebecca, and not just because you are using WordPress (could she have used Drupal as easily? Maybe, though my guess would be no), but because you are using a web-based publishing platform to do life’s work and get invaluable information out to the public about contemporary atrocities committed on a daily basis.
Yeah baby! Taking it with you is a serious theme of my own as well. Not just the skills, but the stuff and, most importantly, the place and the network. It’s the new Third Space.
I like that, Chris, the third space. The interstitial space between learning and new forums with overlapping communities. Awesome! Now, the larger question: Is this eduglu? 🙂
Rebecca was my Lyceum poster child last summer, and a just plain wonderful student. Thanks for helping to give her the tools she needs to continue to shine. The tools are two: a great blogging/CMS platform (WordPress, natch), and access to the world of open content/open source/community-driven-development applications.
That second tool is the tool that rules them all.
Jim — you’re too kind!
And of course, it goes even beyond the tools (although I’m lately WP crazy myself) — it goes into a culture of engagement — that Willinsky thing about how wrongheaded our exam-book culture is.
Giving someone a publishing platform tells them: Hey, figure this out, and you can change the world.
Making them fill out exam-books and upload documents and comments to password protected CMS areas tells them: Submit yourself for evaluation.
(It occurs to me the thing I like most about WordPress is that it’s a PERSONAL publishing system — that’s in its DNA and because of that it’s more likely to engender a sense of ownership in the student/faculty/staff that use it — this is YOUR space, man…)
I owe you an email back on WPMU and eportfolios, but there has been no motion on getting definitions for NCATE reporting yet, so I’m waiting on that. But in short, yes, I believe that a meta-blog powered by one of these RSS-based aggregators (WP-matic, etc) might be a simpler solution: we tag it all in the meta-blog. Then, if we need to run a report, we run it there — i think that was what you were proposing over at my blog, right? (been a long week)
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Picking up on what Mike says, and what you (Jim) often value in WordPress, is the emphasis that it is a personal publishing system. One place where Drupal fits in (you saw this coming!) might be for a group publishing system–one that calls for arranging content both by type and by fine distinctions of audience. (I’ve been re-mulling Drupal vs. WordPress applicability to different situations lately.)
You’re right, and something like a newspaper, journal, etc. may be better suited for Drupal. I think what would make drupal more appealing for folks would be a pre-configured “provisionator” that D’Arcy has envisioned and developed. Have the configurations work for such scenarios out-of-the-box would make a huge difference for wider adoption in the end. For the Nonce Journal, in large part because of my own ineptitude, I found it easier to hack WordPress a bit to allow them to publish a journal, but with the right ITS at the helm (hint, hint) this may have been much more powerful system -but would it have been so easily transferable in terms of administration? I’m not sure, a lot o that would depend upon the ways in which Drupal starts simplifying their terms, consolidating access control within modules, have a tinymce editor up and running o install, figuring out the ridiculously difficult module for uploading and adding images to a post, simplifying taxonomies, expanding the selection of themes.As far as the community surrounding Drupal, my biggest concern are the often large holes that become apparent for updating modules more consistently when new versions are introduced. Moreover, the database structure was so different from 4.x to 5 that I couldn’t even downgrade the site without have to be an sql hacker. All these issues really begin to play a huge part in the upkeep and usability of Drupal for a distributed community, even if an isolated group of students who want to build a more “sophisticated” CMS for web publishing. I would do, but not without kicking and screaming!
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Am also thinking of jumping in to wordpress.. Need a migration before that.! a blogger to wp migration.!