This post falls under the category, “Why didn’t I think of this sooner???”
In my EDTECH 501: Introduction to Educational Technology class, students begin the sometimes arduous process of creating and organizing a learning log, using WordPress.com. This learning log can eventually be transformed to a showcase portfolio, a final project required for our M.E.T. degree here at Boise State. I provide a lot of resources, online help, and a sample site (http://edtechbsu.wordpress.com), but I still encounter students who have a difficult time learning how to use WordPress.
Well, I think I’ve figured out a great solution to help all students–and it is so incredibly simple–provide a WordPress import file that they can use for their beginning WordPress.com sites.
Here’s how I did it:
- I edited an existing WordPress site that includes some of the basic structure to help students get started. All categories are included (these are the AECT Standards aligned with student artifacts), a basic navigation structure (pages), widgets, and a sample first post for their first artifact, an introduction video. Even if a student has started working on their WordPress.com Learning Log, (s)he can import this file and save a lot of time configuring their site. Again, why I didn’t think about this sooner eludes me–I’ve known for YEARS that you could easily import any WordPress site to another one.
- Then, I exported this site (go to Tools>Export on your WordPress.com dashboard) and saved the file. I put the file on our Moodle course site for students to download, along with brief instructions. Then, to help out even further (because I noticed the Tag Cloud widget didn’t export and other customizations are still needed), I created a quick video tutorial and uploaded to YouTube.
I haven’t heard back from any students yet, but this should work like a charm–it should help those students who are struggling get an instant start and save others who have started their learning log the time it takes to enter each of the AECT Standards as individual categories.
So, if you are requiring your students create a learning log or other type of journal using WordPress (or any blogging platform, for that matter), create a sample site that contains the basic structure, export that file, and then provide that for your students to import to their WordPress sites. It will save them time, provide the scaffolding that some of them need, and make your life as an instructor just a little bit saner. I said a little bit.