Teaching WordPress During These Troubling Times
In the age of a pandemic, the very nature of education may be changing. This is a bold thought, given that the world of education doesn’t tend to evolve easily. But as was stated by a look at shifting practices by Financial Times, “necessity has been the mother of online reinvention.” We’ve already seen Covid-19 lead to schools and independent educators leaning into programs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. One interesting possibility to consider now is that the shifting nature of education could also lead to an emphasis on new subjects.
The same Financial Times piece actually spoke to this point as well, arguing that computer education may be more important to modern students than foreign languages, at least from an employment perspective. This is the sort of shift one could imagine seeing in a more tech-driven world of education, as well. It might simply make more sense for students learning remotely or via their devices to focus on, say, computer literacy or coding languages than standard foreign language courses.
If we accept that idea, then it’s also worth considering that other tech topics could become more popular in education — including web design, and WordPress specifically. More and more people are finding uses for web design, which means it’s increasingly important for courses of this nature to be offered. However, the question then becomes how an instructor can most effectively teach WordPress in the remote conditions brought about by the pandemic.
We have a few important ideas to consider in addressing that question.
Expand Your Own Expertise First
In a way, remote education stands to be almost more interactive than in-person teaching. Without the standard setup of a teacher literally standing over students with a whiteboard handy, it’s possible that the whole process will become more discussion- and question-based. As such, it’s all the more important that teachers develop true expertise on the subjects they’re covering (rather than just staying a chapter or two ahead in a textbook).
Our ‘Complete Guide’ to teaching WordPress basics made this point in a sense, in that it began with the suggestion to get familiar with the platform’s interface. This is just a first step of course, but any instructor attempting to teach WordPress remotely needs to have complete, intimate familiarity with the interface, so as to answer questions and direct students in an efficient manner. This is not to say that a teacher needs to be a total expert on all things WordPress. Even experienced, full-time designers can’t quite claim as much. But a thorough grasp of the basics and of the first several teaching topics is an essential foundation.
Find Screen-Sharing Options
It’s important to recognize early on that teaching WordPress is in some ways a fairly visual exercise. Plenty can be explained verbally or through notes, of course, and teachers can even assign reading or demonstration videos as well. But in some cases, the best way to explain certain processes will be to go through them together. That may mean going beyond Zoom and the like and actually finding a suitable way to share your screen with students.
These sorts of programs aren’t getting quite as much attention in these early days of the new normal, but a rundown of screencasting software by HP makes it clear that there are plenty of interesting options out there. The same rundown clarifies what to look for in a good screencasting option for teachers — ease of use, low prices, the ability to customize, and so on — but it also points out a number of specific programs. From Screencast-O-Matic to Filmora Scrn and many others, there are plenty of options that could certainly help an instructor to go over WordPress practices with students in real-time.
Have Examples Ready
It is also all the more important, where remote education is concerned, to have examples handy for students. Without the perks of in-person luxuries (such as a whiteboard or even a projection system), instructors will benefit from being able to send links, screenshots, or slideshows that demonstrate good design principles.
Creative Bloq’s excellent examples provide a good snapshot of what to look for. As you may well know, there are actually countless collections of WordPress examples across the web, so you’re by no means limited to this one. However, it does make a point of emphasizing design (as opposed to the success of the site or the viability of its content), which can be useful when dealing with students in the early going.
In the end, an instructor teaching WordPress can design just about any sort, of course, he or she wants. There’s plenty to cover, and there’s no definitive right way to go about it. The considerations and priorities above, however, can be particularly important in our new, remote-learning world.