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WordCamp Philly

I’m speaking at WordCamp Philly on October 30, 2010 at Temple University. I’m giving a newbie talk this time – “Twenty Things the New WordPress User Should Know.” I plan to cover the basics of WordPress, including hosting, WordPress.com, new stuff in 3.0, themes, plugins, using WP as a content management system and more. It’ll be great!

Registration is open. And, time permitting, I’ll be sneaking into the local Barnes & Noble stores and signing their Head First WordPress books.

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WordCamp NYC jQuery Slides

jQuery Wordcamp NYC slides

This weekend,  @zgordon and I decended on Baruch College in New York City with 740+ other WordPress peeps for two very full days of WordPress. I gave an introductory jQuery talk to a receptive crowd on Saturday afternoon.

I covered:

  • A look at the current state of jQuery
  • A look at DOM manipulation and some popular aspects of jQuery
  • An overview of some handy plugins, including browser fixes, gallery tools, AJAX/JSON, etc.
  • Adding jQuery to WordPress themes

At long last…

My slides are here. Enjoy. If you were there, please let me know what you thought!

Talk

Talk

Pre-talkcrowd

I was asked to give an ignite style 5 minute talk the next day. I was really tired and I don’t think it worked very well as a short talk. Five minutes just wasn’t enough!

I came away with a lot, more of which will appear here in the future. It was great to catch up with Jeremy Clarke and Rebekah (I’ve downloaded net beans), hang out with Jim Groom and to meet Baltimore’s own John Bintz of Comic PressAndrea_r and Ron, pillars of the MU community, we even nicer in person.  I loved Noel Jackson’s talk on P2/Monotone. I had a great conversation with Dan Milward as we walked to Baruch on Day 2.

Thank you to everyone who attended my talk! What a great weekend!

P.S. Thank Zac for the photos and helping me out so much!

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I’m Speaking at WordCamp NYC

I got the word last night that my proposal for integrating jQuery in WordPress theme/plugin design has been accepted. I’m beside myself with excitement – I’ve been looking forward to attending this for months, and to actually have the chance to present a talk is awesome. I’ve meet so many cool people at these things, and this event is shaping up to be a blockbuster with multiple tracks (eduction, WordPress as a CMS, MU, designers/developers, enthusiasts, etc.).

WordCamp NYC

Slides, files and notes coming soon – stay tuned.

P.S. If anyone has any cheap lodging ideas, please write!!!

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Truer Words were Never Spoken

twitshirt

Uttered at WordCamp Mid-Atlantic last weekend.

Thanks to the encouragement of Roni, Zac, Lisa and Jaye, it’s now a fashion statement. Any money from the sale of this shirt will be donated to Autism research, on behalf of my friend, Sarcastro, who doesn’t yet have a blog.

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Wordcamp for Education

The first ever WordCampED took place today on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. WordPress users love WordPress – and when you mix that with a passionate cause (like learning/teaching/education), lively discussion ensues.

Jeff McClurken talked about how he uses blogs to manage his classes (instead of, say, Blackboard). For anyone who hasn’t used the Blackboard LMS, it’s ugly, expensive, difficult, proprietary and it values data more than learning and usability. There are open source LMSs (like the really great Moodle) – and WordPress actually fits well into this category (see below).

Hosting

What are the options for hosting WP blogs? A public school teacher may not have access to server space within the school system and could easily set up a blog on WordPress.com. For those who do have access to in-house hosting, there’s WordPress.org – the latest version can be downloaded and installed in  5 minutes or less. And it’s possible to host many blogs with one installation using WordPress MU (multi-user – it’s what wordpress.com runs on).

There’s discussion as to whether having a single blog with many student logins is best, or individual blogs linked via RSS (syndication) to a single parent blog. I like the latter because:

  • Students have control over their entire blog instance
  • Students may be inclined to continue blogging after the course ends
  • New bloggers may feel slightly less self conscious blogging on their own blog and more inclined to blog regularly

However, having a single course blog can make sense because:

  • It might be slightly  easier to maintain from an instructor’s perspective, and key students can be tapped to help maintain the blog
  • Content may be retrieved faster (all the comments are in one place)
  • This could potentially be more collaborative than individual blogs (although the individual blogs can be linked to the parent blog).

Selling the administration on WordPress

OK, so you are sold on WordPress like I am – how does one bring it to their organization? There are predictable questions that regularly have to be addressed.

“We’ve already allocated $150,000.00 for Blackboard.”

Hmm. And we are looking at shrinking the faculty/educational budgets because the economy isn’t sure it wants to live in the United States anymore.  Wouldn’t $150,000 dollars help? WordPress is a mature platform – and it’s free.

“There isn’t a budget to hire programmers.”

We don’t need to hire programmers. The people who make WordPress keep it like a shiny new pin, security issues are resolved often before they are issues, and given that there are MILLIONS of WordPress installations all over the world, it’s extremely well tended by its own community. There are virtually plug-ins for every possible feature/configuration request/idea.

“WordPress is a blog. Why would we use a blog in a course?”

There are plug-ins that can transform WordPress into courseware – like ScholarPress.

And, we DO need blogs in the classroom. Having blogs hosted in education helps shepherd our student’s digital identities, and teaches valuable skills in communication, fosters digital literacy in the course/classroom AND promotes creativity and collaboration.

“What about FERPA issues? And how to we manage the institution’s image when students have blogs?”

Privacy can be managed at the application level, and through policy as well. Hopefully, there are already policies in place to govern Internet usage and digital materials within the institution. We could start here.

And here’s the thing – this is already happening in institutions all over the world. We can approach this though a fearful, risk based approach (inspired in a big way by the RIAA and like minded organizations). Or, we can be A PART of the bigger conversation about education, and contribute to it – we can propel education and e-learning forward and NOT be left behind.  Communities often behave in the spirit they are created – so, let’s create a positive, powerful collaborative learning environment. What could be better?

“Blogging takes time.”

What doesn’t? Sure, you can manage course documents via e-mail and worse, printed Word documents. And, when the class is over, projects once toiled over whither and fade. Blogging, however, can ensure that research projects endure. Which may lead to future opportunities for bloggers (employment, grants, fame, etc). Check out the Historical State Markers blog, which is actually linked as reference material from the State site – it’s a fantastic use of research.

What’s next

There are challenges to introducing blogging into our courses – how do grade a “blog?” How do I encourage real  participation from students and not just “I agree with the article” comments.

There are endless possibilities and many amazing success stories. As educators – we can and should share our thoughts, approaches, code, ideas and help each other to succeed. As students, we can shape the course with our participation. We can build relationships with our peers and create lasting works that actually help others. We can foster amazing educational experiences, develop life long skills and partnerships and help define the next wave of educational technologies.

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75th Post

I began this blog a year ago next week with a tentative post about my favorite breakfast sandwich. Seventy-five posts later, I’m celebrating this milestone at WordCamp in San Francisco.

Wordcamp 2008

Here’s how this little blog has impacted me (and mine) this past year:

  • Other blogs that were started as a by-product of this one
  • I filled a sketchbook in thirty days
  • We have started using blogs at work, to great effect
  • I have produced a sizable body of work, ideas and happiness in the past year
  • I had my first exhibition at an art show, and another pending
  • I have met many talented, inspiring, nice people because I blog

Yes, many nice people, including WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg.

Me with Matt Mullenweg

WP MoleskineIf you can get to a wordcamp (and you are a blogger or want to become one), Please do. Having access to WP developers (THE developers), search-engine-optimization experts and a diverse, fantastic community is invaluable. Plus, they have free temporary tattoos (and for those who donned such tattoos there were limited edition Moleskines).

I’m thinking I’d like to get WordCamp going in Baltimore. I’m 100% behind wordpress as a platform, and I really think it is a platform, like Facebook, etc. And there are really cool things coming to WordPress soon, too. I am going to start developing pluggins in addition to themes. I’ve seen the light.

OK – I’ve held my thoughts so I could post this post at Wordcamp. More on my adventures with my friends Neil and Hobbes in San Francisco tomorrow – like, the fact the Neil and I have a fridge filled with bananas, Doritos and lime diet coke.