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.