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WordPress for Education Paperback – June 12, 2012
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About the Author
Adam D. Scott
Adam D. Scott is an educator, designer, digital book developer, husband, and father living in Connecticut. He has been a classroom teacher for six years, where he focuses on web technologies with project based outcomes. Adam writes about the intersection of design, technology, and learning on his personal site, www.adamdscott.com.
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While the author does cover the perfunctory topics of installing WordPress, getting a theme set up, and establishing users, he does not dwell on those areas. Thankfully. There are far too many excellent books that cover these tasks in depth. Best not to waste the meat of the book on those things. While the topics of security, backup, and optimization are touched on so the first time WordPress user knows they exist, the suggestion is obviously that those are topics for further reading.
Very quickly Scott gets down to business with plugins that will aid in education - such as those for generating bibliographies or for exporting your entire site as an electronic book. Even more important are the chapters on using multi-user WordPress, BuddyPress, and Open Courseware to develop a fully integrated electronic classroom environment. This can be anything from as simple as posting assignments online to as complex as letting students develop their own smaller sub-sites, creating discussion groups for interactive learning, and submitting and grading the final results.
Scott has a very easy and likable writing style. He has obviously used the products he is talking about and knows their details. He presents that information in the same way you would hope a good professor would, in a friendly yet authoritative manner. In WordPress for Education he presents the information you need to know while not pretending to be the be-all-end-all source, which is impossible because WordPress is a constantly changing and evolving platform.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is contemplating setting up an online education environment be it in primary education, secondary, or beyond. This also applies to businesses. We must not forget that education continues long after leaving the school building. Many of the techniques and tools in Scott's work would be excellent for implementation in employee training, religious education, vocational training, or other areas. Even civic clubs like writer's groups or any organization that has a teaching or testing process could benefit from at least a light read of the book.
Also note that, as is the case with all Packt Publishing books, the WordPress for Education is available in both paper and multiple electronic formats, so it is quite convenient to have with you in whatever form you prefer.
The text shows how to add topics or categories. Very easy under WordPress. You can accompany this with a short description. More importantly, a category can be within a hierarchy. This is the most important concept to grasp with using categories, and it is very simple. So a physics department might have a top level category spanning all physics. With subcategories for atomic, nuclear, particle, condensed matter and biophysics, for example. And each subcategory has finer separations, all ultimately mapping to research groups within the department. The analogy to your situation should be obvious.
Also, the book describes how to add third party WordPress plugins. There is a thriving WordPress community which you can easily search for on the Web. You are encouraged to do so to find plugins germane to your campus needs. Saves you having to recode or to pay someone to do this.
You can let students contribute content via blogs. This can help get a sense of community involvement by fostering an active feedback loop amongst them and the faculty.