As the chair of a newly formed MS program, I decided to choose WordPress (WP) as my tool. I know it sounds like I took the path of least resistance, but I felt I needed to know WP since it would function as the central hub in the program. All the graduate students, faculty, courses and program will have a WP site and will need to be stitched together to form the new SOCY open community. As the individual hub in this new network, I feel I need to know how to do the stitching. To achieve this early goal, I need to know what some of the WP tools are. For this post, I am learning tags…
I did a Google for a quick understanding of tags and found this site from WooThemes which describes tags as the ‘index’ for your website. In other words, ‘tags’ function as the book index telling someone where to find a particular post on a particular topic in your website. When you post something to your site, you should ‘tag’ it as a way of categorizing the information using a short (1-3 words at most) tag.
What I realized is from this description is that ‘tags’ are an internal way of organizing the site for visitors. They are not to help you broadcast your post. People have to come to your site and use the tags to help them navigate your site. This will be very helpful for the instructor in maintaining the organization of the site. It will require some maintenance but I can see an instructor developing a standard set of tags for each course to help them know what topics have been covered.
There is also the possibility of a TAG CLOUD where all tags for a site can be displayed as a cloud allowing the user to clearly see which tags have indexed the most information/posts. This would be a great way to see the varying interests of the students if tagging were allowed to be generated by the students.
A moment of epiphany…
This is not a brilliant one, but as I am beginning to conceptualize our new program, I am working through some basics…such as WP is a blogging tool. It is not a BB or CMS tool. It is designed to blog which means the foundation of an ‘open’ course is blogging as an assignment. It also means that WP will have to work in conjunction with other online tools to stitch together a course. For me, this is an important concept to remember. WP is not BB. It can do more and it can do less than BB. To move to an ‘open’ course means that the course includes some type of blogging but that WP will be one of many tools…not the only tool. It will however be the tool that builds the online SOCY community since it will be the one that can speak to all nodes (students and faculty and courses) in the network.
CONCERNS AND THOUGHTS
What concerns me most about using WP to build a new open online program is the process of connecting all the sites in various ways. For example, I am going to post this on my blog, but how does Meredith or Mark know that I have made this post. If, as we discussed, students will focus on building their WP site and then broadcast their work to the respective courses, the instructors need to have a clear understanding of how to broadcast so they can expect their students to do it. So how do you find other people’s or course WP sites? And how do you broadcast to those sites? So how do these sites connect to one another??? And most importantly, how do I find another person’s WP site? How do I search?
I will let you know next time…