Tag Archives: collaborate

Teaching WordPress at Ravensbourne

I’ve been using WordPress since my MA in 2007. It had nothing to do with my studies apart from the fact that it was open-source software and a subject I was covering in one of the modules. I was intrigued to know more about it. I’ve since built and worked on about 10 sites and used it as part of the case study for the Social Media book chapter I’ve just completed. Indeed this diary uses WordPress. It’s so customisable and can be used, amongst other things, to collaborate online and as a content management system. It’s a good example of a data mashup in that it takes data from many different sources and integrates it one site.

It is now being used widely at Ravensbourne College as a way of getting content creation students quickly up and running and using a website to collaborate and create content as a team. This gives them the opportunity to get going, creating content without the need to spend weeks designing and coding a website. Over the last three days I’ve been teaching first year students how to use it. But first I gave them two lectures. The first was an introduction to the Internet and Web and the definitions and practices of Web 2.0. It’s surprising how many don’t know the difference between the Internet and the Web. The second (below) is intended as a bit of background before using WordPress. It describes open-source software and gives examples and definitions.

I spent three days with them and generally there was a very positive response to the use of it.

Transition

It’s felt like a long week. I’ve spent three days teaching. Two of these were the last of my software training sessions. This week – Flash, which is notoriously difficult to teach, especially when some students arrive 20 minutes late into the lesson. Thankfully I now go down to one day a week of lecturing and tutorial sessions, giving me more time to get really stuck into my subject. Still, the money will help pay off my debts from last year.

This week has really felt like a transition week. I finally got my ID card and the first instalment of my bursary. This was delayed due to the numerous campuses and schools of the university having their own finance departments – all of which seemingly need signatures from all and sundry before payment can be made.  I travelled to my campus on Wednesday to get my ID card as the machine that made them on induction day was not operational and sending them through the post was potentially problematic due to the imminent postal strike. I now feel like I’m a proper research student who can enter all the University campuses without having to ask security to let me in and prove my identity. How liberating.

I spent the rest of Wednesday compiling the small amount of material I had amassed over the last weeks into some semblance of order for the meeting on Friday with my two supervisors. I’ve been developing my research question by writing down in a logical order my thought processes as questions, from the simple to the more complicated and from general to generational. It may seem premature but I’m exploring sites like Ning that allow you to set your own social networking sites. This may, or may not help, with ways to develop creative research methods. I also sent a request to be invited to join Google Wave which describes itself as an online tool  to ‘Communicate and collaborate in real time’.

On Friday I meet with my supervisors in a coffee shop, rather than the rather drab university canteen. The meeting lasts about an hour and a half and we discuss  my initial research questions and construct a plan of action for the next few weeks. This needs to be documented, agreed and handed to the university registry, soon after each meeting. I believe I’ve been given very good supervisors. I have a great deal of respect for them and think that they are going to be very supportive for my research. After the meeting I couldn’t resist going to my favourite house music store and buying a CD by the 80’s leftfield New York post-punk/funk band Liquid Liquid. (Haven’t bought a CD in a long time. I usually download but I couldn’t find this anywhere online.)

Saturday I received my books from Amazon, Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins and Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. I had ordered them on Wednesday, with an estimated five working day free delivery, so was delighted when they arrived early. They were delivered by HDNL, a private delivery service. This must be one of the measures Amazon have put in place to overcome the proposed national postal strike next week and a worrying prospect for the future of the Royal Mail. Once companies like Amazon leave, they are unlikely to come back. This seems to draw attention to the claim from the Royal Mail that they have less traffic due to email and the internet. What they don’t seem to have taken into account, on the upside, is the phenomenal rise in internet shopping that has created lots of large packages that need to be sent via mail and what potential value this has to their future business. Anyway, I digress.