The following post will serve as the structure for my initial presentation this morning at Agnes Scott College’s Intermediate WordPress Think and Do Tank.
So you’re a faculty member at Agnes Scott; you have an agnesscott.org web domain and you’ve installed WordPress on it. You’ve heard about how this resource is related to Agnes Scott’s Summit initiative and its Center for Digital and Visual Literacy. What now? How can WordPress inflect your teaching and research? Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Use Your Domain as a Central Identity Site
Your main domain (yourname.agnesscott.edu) offers you a place to introduce yourself, your research, and your teaching to the digital world. You can start a reflective blog, build an About page, and showcase your publications and presentations. In a matter of minutes you can write a short bio and publish a live Google Doc of your CV. You have the choice to make your main domain point to a static page (probably your About page) or to a list of regularly updated posts. Here’s an example of Nell Ruby’s main domain.
Use Your Domain as a Course Site
By employing the blog on your main domain (broken into categories for classes) or on a standalone subdomain (like this one), you can maintain a regularly updated list of assignments, readings, and reflections for particular classes. Publish one or two blog posts per week per class outlining the upcoming topics, submission guidelines and due dates, and readings (with hyperlinks) to your blog. Treat your class site as the “official register” of what is happening in class. The benefit of using your site as a pedagogical resource — outside of or in addition to Moodle — is twofold. Because it’s public, you can share what you’re doing in class with the world beyond the classroom, and you can model for students how to involve digital components in the learning process. Here’s an example of mine.
Use Your Site as a Collaborative Publishing Space
By setting up a separate subdomain, you can easily build a new publishing space for the collective work of a particular class or campus group. You can easily add others (students, coworkers, research partners) to the site as authors, editors, or administrators, turning the site into a nimble format that can serve as a magazine, dynamic news site, or collective research project. Each author’s name can link back to their own digital presence on the web (Twitter profile, blog, or Linked In profile), and they can cross-publish their work on their site. Here’s an example of how Alan Grostephan used this method in his Creative Writing Class.
Assign Digital Projects
The writing and design that many students will do after college will be for digital consumption and distribution. Constructing a “born-digital” project for a class encourages students to further develop their WordPress publishing skills, places their work into circulation with their peers and the wider digital world, and contributes to their future portfolio. Here’s an example of a digital research project assigned during one of Yael Manes’s History classes.
Use of web domains in the classroom teaches digital literacies and opens the classroom to conversations about new media theory, new modes of knowledge production, public scholarship, and the interplay between text and image. Throughout the course of the next several days, we’ll be working with anyone who joins us to adapt and build WordPress components that support digital pedagogy, identity, and research. If you’re interested in how any of the following might help you, let us know: social media integration, plugins and widgets, themes, categories and tags, opening subdomains, the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org, and other open source platforms beyond WordPress.