By Rob Schwartz
With so many of us working on collaborative projects like the Gamified Curriculum Delivery System that Mike Skocko’s Mega Students of the Mac Lab developed, many of us are looking at getting a more global presence with our course materials. Others of us just lose every sheet of paper that hits our desks (myself a prime example) and want to eliminate paper from the classroom and have the curriculum available 24 hours to our students. For many of us, WordPress has proven itself a great solution. In fact, here at the educationleaders blog, we’re running a wordpress back end also.
WordPress is amazing. Take a look at this list of benefits:
- It’s free, So it fits a teacher’s budget
- It’s easy, so we have time to focus on content rather than the construction of our sites
- It’s scalable, so we can ramp it up to a school wide or even district wide enterprise
- It’s extensible, so you can add cool features easily, like Skocko’s students
- It’s popular, so there’s a TON of help, lots of free plugins (add features) and themes (the layout and look)
What’s been missing is a great plugin that does all the classroomy, traditional stuff that we’re used to… traditional assessments for pre- and post-tests, monitoring of student access to the site, gradebook incorporated online, etc. I used to run a moodle install alongside my WordPress install for assessment and tracking of student work, but I found it cumbersome to have to manage 2 sites that acted like one.
Finally, there’s a solution that is looking pretty good and it’s exiting beta soon. Don’t have details on prices yet, but it may be a great all-in-one solution for the classroom. I’m mainly looking for something that can track the users and provide pre-and post tests to help find where the kids are not completely comfortable with the content yet… I use tests not to see where the kids failed, but where I’ve failed the kids. If everyone’s missing a certain question, then it’s feedback to me that I haven’t covered this concept well enough yet or they’re still not comfortable with the terminology (and let’s face it… our industry LOVES it’s terminology and acronyms!).
I’ve been keeping an eye on this LMS plugin to replace my missing moodle functionality. I really want an online gradebook so that the kids can monitor themselves… Whether it’s self-reported (easy to do with a test) or actual, traditional testing and assessment, this plugin seems to fit the bill without sideloading moodle in my sites.
LearnDash is the plugin and the plugin’s author, Justin, has been very helpful and responsive- which is great for a plugin that is running your classes! Don’t have to worry about no support at all (which is common with wordpress plugs… you get what you pay for.) I encourage you to sign up for his newsletter and grab a copy when it’s time to test out on your wordpress site for class.
And if you HAVEN’T yet set up yourself with a wordpress blog for class yet… what are you waiting for? Even signing up with a free wordpress.com blog is a great way to get started in sharing your content with other educators across the globe.
And don’t forget to cross post your stuff at the Adobe Ed Exchange!!! It gives you great visibility to teachers that might not find your site elsewhere… but posting to your own blog ensures that all your students and parents can access your classroom resources easily.
Keep your eyes open for a series of blog posts here on setting up wordpress for your classroom and helpful plugins, themes, and tips for keeping it innovative and awesome!