Since meeting Dave Lester in the not-so-recently held WordCamp New York, I had been eagerly looking forward to participating in WordCamp Ed – organized by the fine folks at Center for History and New Media [@ George Mason University] and supported by kind-hearted sponsors. Though the thought of not attending did cross my mind several times [gas prices, driving distances, etc.], the pleasure of having a day to spend in an academic setting with like-minded & passionate geeks/educators was a bit too much to overcome, and as such, I am very glad to have made the trip 🙂
Considering that there were a lot of ideas floating around in everyone’s mind to be put forth and discussed, it was very innovative [first of its kind for me] to have a common morning session and then split the audience – based on their interests – into 3 groups and have 3 parallel sessions, each lasting about an hour. Jeremy Boggs – Using WordPress For A Course Wesbsite; Jeffrey McClurken – Teaching Undergraduates with Blogs; Jane Wells – Road To 2.7; Rob Pongsajapan – Running a Campus-wide WordPress MU Site; Jim Groom – Permanent Revolution [Keynote Address] … were the speakers during common session – very neat presentations that certainly would have made His Steveness proud.
Following several 5 minute lightening sessions during lunch, I attended three discussion sessions:
- WP in classrooms: case studies (like Jeffâ€™s presentation, mostly undergrads)
- Testing 2.7 w/Jane Wells; and help choose the new comments screen! W00T
- Developing educational WP plugins (Dave)
As can be seen from the list, the other six were equally exciting, enticing and interesting – if only the concept of multiverse was a practical & feasible reality, I (or a copy of me from some other parallel universe) could have attended all nine sessions! If interested, one can check out the participants of this WordCamp Ed here and contact them to get/share ideas.
Personally, I am still looking for a method (I know there are couple plugins for WordPress MU and I am on the WP-EDU mailing list as well) to achieve the following:
- Replace the local (non-admin) login with the institution’s Single Sign On (LDAP / Active Directory, etc.) – so that users have one less UserID/Password to remember (or forget).
- Automagically create a blog for every user in an institution – based some criteria that makes everybody in an institution happy.
I might seem rather obsessed with this feature but I do believe that such an approach would have distinct advantages:
- Minimal manual labor involved in creating individual blogs, from an administrative perspective.
- Ability to restrict availability of such blogs for a class of people (students &/or faculty &/or staff), still from an administrative perspective.
- Ability to restrict who sees what – useful from a teaching perspective. Though we all like to believe that honor system works (it does in most cases), a random case of dishonesty is all it takes for the abandonment of an entire system. Thus, it takes away the need for having a course-userid, course-password and sharing it with all students (some of whom may share it with students who are not in that course).
If you happen to know such a method, please please let me know – if need be, I will even chime in for development/documentation.
To summarize, my take-aways from this WordCamp Ed trip (in somewhat of a chronological order):
- First sighting of snow this winter, on my down to Fairfax, VA.
- The best Indian food I have ever had in a restaurant, outside of India.
- Opportunity to spend a day in an academic setting.
- Really cool name-tags, with gravatars on it – whoever did this plugin/tool, long live.
- Opportunity to meet, interact with, share what I knew and learn what I didn’t know from passionate educators, technologists who are trying (and coming up with innovative ways) to make education and technology useful to each other.
- Good food, T-Shirt and WordPress goodies.
All in all, it was a very very productive and informative day – something that I can proudly say I was part of (the very first edition). Pictures from this day are here and there. I look forward to meeting many more passionate instructional / educational technologists, technological educators, digital humanists, and learn from them in subsequent WordCamp Eds.