(Updated Oct 20th) Trinity College senior Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens and I have been invited to offer a workshop at THATCamp New England (The Humanities and Technology un-conference) at Brown University in Providence RI on the morning of Saturday, October 20th, 2012. Here’s what we’ve proposed:
Collaborative Teaching & Publishing with WordPress/CommentPress
We created this hands-on workshop to help you compare solutions to two challenges faced by many digital humanists who wish to enhance their teaching or scholarship with WordPress. Feel free to Tweet about this workshop with the #THATCampNE hashtag or follow me @DoughertyJack.
Before the workshop: This workshop is geared to participants who already have some degree of familiarity with WordPress. If you’re interested in the broader questions but are brand-new to the technology, sign up in advance for a free WordPress.com account, OR ask if your institution operates a self-hosted WordPress.org platform, and start your own site before the workshop. At the very beginning of the workshop, we’ll make sure that everyone understands some basics:
- the difference between WordPress.com versus self-hosted WordPress.org
- navigating the WordPress dashboard and different user roles (admins, editors, authors, contributors, subscribers)
- the architecture of posts vs. pages, themes, menus, widgets — see WordPress Lessons
- searching for and installing themes & plugins (for self-hosted WordPress.org sites)
Everyone should bring a wireless laptop or tablet for hands-on learning.
1) Teaching challenge: How do you design WordPress to compile assignments from an entire class, while also promoting individual ownership of their writing? We’ll demonstrate two different solutions, each with their own advantages:
- Centralized: create a class-wide site, and assign authoring roles to individual students to create posts, as shown in my Ed Reform Past & Present course
- Decentralized: individual students create their own sites, and the FeedWordPress plugin automatically compiles them on a class site, where they may be displayed by categories, as seen in our Cities Suburbs & Schools seminar
Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. . . share your view of pros & cons in the comments below.
When faculty ask our students to write on the web, we also must address broader policy questions on balancing competing demands for public scholarship versus student privacy. Who “owns” the words that students write? Who decides if/when they may be taken down? We’ll point to federal FERPA law and one sample classroom policy statement. How do you handle this issue? Share more in the comments below.
See also my growing list of how-to tutorials for teaching writing with WordPress, and add your comments and links below to related resources you recommend.
2) Scholarship challenge: How do you design WordPress to publicly share scholarship (draft or finished) and promote collaborative writing and/or critical commentary? While most WordPress sites invite readers to leave a comment at the bottom of the screen, some scholars have used additional tools, such as digress.it or CommentPress, that allow readers to post feedback at the page or paragraph level.
Explore the CoWriting site to understand how CommentPress works, and follow links to scholarly examples by MediaCommons Press, and the open peer-reviewed volume that Kristen Nawrotzki and I co-edited, Writing History in the Digital Age.
In addition, we’ll take a behind-the-scenes look at CommentPress from the dashboard, and how to download and install it from GitHub (which will be much easier when the developer adds it to the regular WordPress.org repository, which should happen soon). We’ll also review important decisions that groups of scholars need to make regarding editorial policy and intellectual property when sharing and commenting on drafts online, with a look at our sample policy statement.
Furthermore, we’ll think about ways of merging teaching and publishing with student writing assignments on the web that reach the broader public. Here’s one sample assignment from my Cities Suburbs Schools seminar that begins with Google Docs for collaborative commenting, and will culminate with final drafts on our class WordPress site, and possibly on the ConnecticutHistory.org WordPress site. How have you merged teaching and publishing on the web? Post an example with a link below.
If time permits, I’ll also show the developer’s test platform for the Multisite version of CommentPress with BuddyPress group blog integration.