Web Development Projects (WordPress)
As WordPress.com are keen to observe on their home page, “WordPress powers 30% of the internet”. Whether you believe the veracity of this claim, or question their definition of ‘powers’, it is certainly apparent that many individuals and organisations/businesses have developed web-sites and/or blogs using WordPress to manage their content.
Asking students to develop online project work, using WordPress as their platform, is thus modelling real-world practice and, in doing so, inviting development of a range of eminently transferable skills. Such skills can often be useful underlying outcomes that sit behind more discipline-specific learning outcomes that can be targeted by such project work.
Drawing on an example from our Electronics department: masters students (working individually) are asked to set-up and maintain a WordPress site that is used to frame and explain their research interest/project, provide a profile of themselves as a researcher and ultimately log their research progress as they undertake their masters.
The WordPress site is iteratively and summatively assessed using criteria designed for blog assessment and then modified for the project more specifically.
Emphasis is put on accessibility of writing (the site and blog posts need to be intelligible to someone not necessarily steeped in the discipline) while maintaining appropriate academic rigour (evidencing and citing statements/arguments as appropriate). A key targeted outcome is development of students’ capacity to self-reflect on their endeavours (both successes and failures) and articulate their thought processes and progress.
Supporting Web Development Projects
Although WordPress.com provides a very intuitive platform for web-site/blog development, it would be a mistake to assume that its use, both technically and pedagogically, does not need appropriate scaffolding with students.
Web Development Workshop
From a technical point of view the E-Learning Development Team have developed a basic lecture/hands-on session to walk students through setting up a WordPress site and account. When not hands-on the session takes between thirty and forty minutes to deliver. When hands-on the session will take between thirty minutes and an hour. When delivered by the E-Learning team we will typically work with staff to customise the session to the project the students are being asked to develop.
We’ve also made an accompanying written guide that covers the same ground as the face-to-face session and could be used as a template for running such a session yourself.
Coming Soon – Narrated walk-through of set-up.
As with the development of any non-discipline specific skills, the use of WordPress does need to be appropriately contextualised for students. Students will need to understand why they are being asked to learn a new tool or platform and what learning outcomes it is designed to support, this is especially the case if the work is not to be summatively assessed.
- Example blog marking criteria (Google Doc)
For further information, or to arrange workshop(s) for your students, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Development Workshop – Additional considerations
It’s worth observing that the University doesn’t currently officially support WordPress. This means students will typically have to create an account with WordPress.com to undertake a WordPress project.
The E-Learning Development Team will help with WordPress use but have no control over it as a platform. IT Services do not support WordPress.
Example modules with student-generated web development output:
(Not including Computer Science modules)
Summatively assessed WordPress output:
- Audio and Music Technology (Electronics – Jude Brereton) | Show and tell recap
- Engineering Design (Electronics – Noel Jackson)
Non-assessed WordPress output:
- Developing Intercultural Engagement Project (Language and Linguistic Science – Nadine Saupe)
- Global Literatures (English and Related Literature – Emily Bowles) | Case Study