Tag Archives: WordPress

The survival of higher education by Steve Wheeler

‘The Survival of Higher Education’ by @timbuckteeth

I’ve been following and talking with Professor Steve Wheeler for several years now, and have had the honour of presenting at his Pelecon conference and sharing the billing at the eAssessment Scotland conference.

Steve often writes individual posts or, like recently, he writes a series of post with common themes to expand or challenge a certain approach or concept of education – his 2010 series on ‘Distance Learning / Distance Education’ initiated some interesting discussions. Steve has, this time, been looking at the survival of Higher Education – please read all of Steve’s posts, you know you’ll be the  better for it.

I’ve linked to Steve’s original work here, as well as my response I posted to his website – I concentrate on  specific aspect of his posts/series, but please be sure to read the full posts so my comments (and the quotes) are not taken out of context:  Continue reading

eBook QR Codes in Education from David Hopkins

Writing an eBook: Lessons learned on how, where, and why

Those of you know me will know I published two eBooks earlier this year. This post will deal a little with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ I did it, but also I hope it’ll help you think about whether it’s something you want to do for yourself.

Self-publishing isn’t just about fiction or recipe books, it isn’t just about making lots of money or becoming a house-hold name. It’s about control over your knowledge, control and influence over availability and presentation of your work, and above all it’s about your name and your ‘brand’.

Just so you know I’m talking from experience, here are the details of my two self-published works (to date) – I have grown and strengthened my reputation based around my work as Learning Technologist and with QR Codes, and I write here on these topics frequently:

  • eBook QR Codes in Education from David HopkinsQR Codes in Education: “These black and white squares have appeared everywhere from billboards at the side of the road, roof tops, cola cans, buses, magazines, etc. So why not in your library, textbook, assignment, project, or classroom display? The ability to use them to direct students or colleagues to online resources (presentation slides, websites, video, book location, etc.) is powerful and engaging and, when well implemented, can offer a level of interaction and engagement. It’s not about what they are but about how we use them and what they can offer me in an educational setting.”
  • What is a Learning Technologist? eBookWhat is a Learning Technologist?: “My journey as a Learning Technologist started in 2007 and has taken many turns and overcome many obstacles. What has remained throughout is the question of ‘what is a Learning Technologist’? Looking at published work and personal experience I have collected my blog posts together in this eBook and added further commentary and notes to provide the background to the posts and the work I am engaged in.”


I’ll deal with the first real questions about writing an eBook … whyContinue reading


Question – what app could you NOT live without?

AppsWhat App could you NOT live without? Whether it’s Dropbox for collaborative working, Angry Birds for brainless relaxation, WordPress for your blogging activities, Keynote for presentation creation and delivery, Blackboard Mobile Learn for course/material management, email or calendars  for normal work use, or something else entirely … what App do you use the most or consider the most important in your working/daily life.

I’m not limiting this to iOS ‘apps’ but please consider any ‘tool’ you use on a mobile or tablet device.

Leave a comment below and share your App and reasons for it. If you’ve already written this up then link to your post and share your thoughts and preferences with us.


Alternative Word Cloud Generator: Tagul


I’ve used Wordle and Tagxedo in the past to generate a word cloud of text for different projects, but I recently found this new one that produces an interactive word cloud – Tagul.

Using either your Twitter or Google account to login (others are available) you can start making a word cloud from either a URL, text, or a set of tags you define. You have complete control over the appearance and font, as well as the cloud shape and colour. One very important

Here is a Tagul word cloud from the text in my first EDC MOOC post – the embed feature isn’t working very well in WordPress (it loads a whole lot of empty white space as well for some reason) but click the link below to view it on the Tagul website


Continue reading


Reflection on the ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’ MOOC, Wk.1 #edcmooc

EDCMOOCHere are some notes, links, conversations, thoughts, and reflections on the first week of the University of Edinburgh / Cousera ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’ MOOC. This reflection will form part of the work required by the MOOC as well as reflections on the processes and Coursera system itself.

Initial thoughts on the course and/or platform (supplemental to my earlier post):

  • Agree to abide by an ‘honour code’ – much like a learning contract that some places use with students, does anyone have any indication that this works (or not)?
  • There is so much hype around this MOOC, why? Is it because it’s the first in the UK by Coursera AND a UK HEI?
  • There is so much going on, on all the platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Coursera discuss boards, etc.) that, even day after the official start, it’s very overwhelming and I am thinking “what have I let myself in for?” Is this why so many people don’t finish (or even start)?
  • So far I’ve done the whole MOOC on the iPad, including this post using the WordPress app. It’s not easy as the formatting in the post needs fine tuning and this can really only be done (still on the iPad: links, image alignment, etc.) through the admin web interface.
  • One discussion board per week/topic … for up to 40,000 students? I think this needs further management to make it something that can work with and for the students. Even after the first day the number of posts was intimidating, who knows what it’ll be like in a week or so.
  • Don’t confuse the learners with inappropriate or unnecessary language or jargon. This will only make them feel even more alienated and removed from the objectives of the course and cause unnecessary worry and stress. If you want us to produce a blog post, video, presentation, etc. then ask us to do this .. I have never used the term ‘digital artifact’ and probably wont start now either.

Now for my reflection on week one of the course itself:

  • Thankfully the terms ‘utopian’ and ‘dystopian’ are explained – this was causing me concern as I had no idea what I supposed to understand by this until now, in relation to education and technology: ‘utopian’ (creating highly desirable social, educational, or cultural effects) or ‘dystopian’ (creating extremely negative effects for society, education or culture).
  • Continue reading


WordPress Plugin #7: Twitter Card

Note: In this series I’ll delve into some of the better plugins available for WordPress that I am already using, or about to start using. I’m aiming to highlight 30 of the better plugins.

If, like me, you use Twitter a lot, and have something like WordTwit installed (tweet your new blog post when you publish it) then you’ll also want to explore the new world of Twitter Cards. Thanks for Paul Simbeck-Hampson for showing and explaining this to me.

What is it … well, Twitter Cards:

“make it possible for you to attach media experiences to Tweets that link to your content. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpages, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.”

Here is it in action, it’s the snippet of the linked webpage (and image) that appears beneath the tweet on both the website and in Twitter Apps – it comes into it’s element if someone tweets a link to or about one of your blog posts and doesn’t include your twitter name, as the Card will do this for you, so your work is correctly attributed:

WordPressPlugin #7: Twitter Card (Working)

Here’s an example of a non-cited tweet, where my Twitter username ‘@hopkinsdavid’ is not mentioned:

WordPressPlugin #7: Twitter Card (Working)

How does this work, and what do you need? First you need to install the Twitter Cards plugin (available as download or by searching the Plugin database through your WordPress admin panel). It’s simple and done in a matter of seconds, and that’s all you need to do in WordPress.

The next stage is to test it using the Twitter developer page- Twitter Development / Cards Preview –  and request its activation. Take a URL for one of your blog posts or pages and enter it in the box and press ‘preview’, to get something like this, including the snippet of the post and the image:

WordPressPlugin #7: Twitter Card (Preview)

 NB: You must be sure that the post in WordPress has an image set as the ‘featured image’ if you want it to show the image in the Twitter Card. If it doesn’t have one set it’ll display the text with no image – it’s not a bad thing but, if you’re working hard to promote yourself and images are important then it’s worth making sure you have one set.

The final step is to apply to have the Card approved and activated on this page: dev.twitter.com/form/participate-twitter-cards. The form does state:

“As we roll out this new feature to users and publishers, we are looking for sites with great content and those that drive active discussion and activity on Twitter. Expect a few weeks for turn-around time. You will receive an email message with the confirmation or rejection notice.” [emphasis is mine]

Fill in all the fields as best you can and sit back and wait. Simple! It took just over 12 hours for mine to be approved, you may be luckier than me.

Nominations Open – The 2012 Edublog Awards are here!

Nomination(s) for the 2012 Edublog Awards #eddies12

Nominations Open – The 2012 Edublog Awards are here!November can only mean one thing … EduBlog Awards (and you thought I was going to say “nearly Christmas”, right?). Nominations are open for the 2012 Edublog Awards, and here are mine:

There are many reasons for the choices above, and they are in no way a slight to everyone else in my network – you are all fabulous and bring so much to my day, individually and as a group, but I had to choose one of you in each category to reflect all your wonderful work.

OK folks, let’s see what & who you like this year … click here for the Edublog 2012 nomination hashtag: #eddies12 and make you own nominationnoon the following link: http://edublogawards.com/2012/11/13/nominations-open/

PS: if you feel generous and want to nominate me, how about the “Best EdTech Blog” or “Best Individual Blog”categories … please?


WordPress as a VLE or CMS?

My understanding of WordPress is that it is a blogging tool, but I have also used it to run corporate, commercial, charity, and special interest websites. It also runs some extremely powerful (and large) websites that are much more than a blog or news site. But what of WordPress as a learning management system – whether you call them VLE, CMS, LMS, or something else?

Well, I’ve heard of it, but haven’t seen it “in the wild” … yet!

Here are a list posts and snippets of news I’ve collected from around the Internet over the last few months about WordPress, it’s ability to run as an alternative VLE/LMS/etc, and tools you can use to make it work as one.

I wonder if anyone is using WordPress for their MOOC?

WordPress as a Learning Management System – Move Over, Blackboard

“We use the BP-Social Theme for the BuddyPress sites. Clearly the theme was designed with Facebook in mind. To me, this is nothing but an advantage for an educational implementation. With so many of our students coming into the classroom with innumerable experiences in this social network, it’s such a blessing to be able to provide a user experience in a LMS that works in a way that students are used to and comfortable with. There are inherent stresses with online education: the lack of face-to-face communication, the inability to interpret tone in text, the discomforting anonymity of the faceless peer, so on and so forth. BP-Social helps break these stresses down to a manageable level, which I believe enhances the opportunity for learning.”

WordPress a Better LMS

“One of the major advantages of using WordPress is that, unlike Blackboard, it is highly configurable, and with one exception you can do everything and more on WordPres … there is a well developed community out there which can help you customize your site.”

A Simple, New Way To Run Your Own Online Courses

“If you thought WordPress was just blogging software, it’s time to take a second look. The latest version of WordPress is robust enough to help you create anything from a classroom blog to an advanced online course system complete with interactive quizzes and payment portals. Not too shabby.”

How To: Use WordPress as an LMS for an Online Learning Website

“The community behind WordPress is bigger than any LMS or CMS in the world. This means there are more solutions available to you, more support, and even support in your native language. Whether you are looking for a developer to hire, or free tutorials for beginners, you will find it easily for WordPress.”

Rebuilding the LMS for the 21st Century

“While brainstorming for a solution to fit these needs, Ugoretz and his team implemented an e-portfolio platform based on the WordPress blogging tool. “Almost immediately,” Ugoretz recalls, “faculty began to see the potential for building these incredibly functional and highly flexible course sites”.”

The Complete WordPress-as-a-CMS Guide: Benefits, Tips, Common Questions and Inspiration

“The WordPress platform offers a simple user interface when it comes to other content management systems. After logging into WP you’ll arrive at the dashboard. The WordPress dashboard allows you to change many elements of your website without having to know a line of code. You can change/edit images, pages, posts, content and a variety of other features fairly quickly.”

There are more links an resources that I can’t find at the moment (I had thought I’d saved them to Delicious, but it seems not). If you have any then please leave a comment with links, etc, and if you are using WordPress (or about to) as your School or Institutions VLE then also let us know and link to it and any other resources that can help people understand how versatile the system is.


WordPress Plugin #2: Social Sharing with ShareThis

Note: In this series I’ll delve into some of the better plugins available for WordPress that I am already using, or about to start using. I’m aiming to highlight 30 of my favourites.

You have a blog, and you use various different ways of publicising it (try WordTwit and WordBooker) automatically when you publish a new post. But what about getting your audience to share your content when they find it?

There are many plugins available that can help with this, I’ve used some in the past but the one I’m currently ‘liking’ is ShareThis:

“Increase your audience engagement with our innovative sharing tools … the plugin allows users to share your content through email and 50+ social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Pinterest. You can broadcast your message more easily and widely than ever before.”

Available from the WordPress plugin area through your blogs admin panel it’s easy to install and configure. You have the option on which of the major networks to have sharing to (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest) and, if you sign up for a free account on the ShareThis website you can store your ‘publisher key’ for analytics which you can browse and interrogate (I haven’t been able to get mine working properly, it doesn’t seem to like self-hosted WordPress blogs).

It’s important to note that this doesn’t capture the sharing of the post on the networks unless the click/link was generated on the blog itself. So, for example, a re-tweet on Twitter of your tweet from ShareThis does not increase the number shown on your blog.


WordPress Plugins #30: Cookies

New laws that came into being recently (May 26, 2012) state that websites must get “informed consent” from users before they record any detailed information in the cookies they store on visitors’ computers.”

Note: In this series I’ll delve into some of the better plugins available for WordPress that I am already using, or about to start using. I’m aiming to highlight 30 of the better plugins.

Those of us running a blog based on the popular blogging platforms will find a handy plugin or two in the respective directory, and the one I’ve started testing using is called Cookie Control, and is available from the WordPress website or by searching the directory directly from within your own WordPress blog.

“Cookie Control is a mechanism for obtaining a user’s explicit consent for the use of cookies on their computer. It was created by Civic UK because recent legislation requires websites to obtain explicit consent before leaving behind or reading files (mostly cookies) on user’s computers.”

The Plugin sits in a fairly unobstructed location of your choosing (bottom-left or bottom-right are good places) and can hold user-defined text based on the type of cookies you use (basic blog, Google analytics, etc). Here it is when viewing this blog on a desktop / non-mobile device:

The admin pages reflect the ones readily available on the Cookie Control Configuration website (for those who want to use it without installing a plugin) where you can choose from different icons and position, as well as light or dark background to the text box, and you also get to enter your own specific text and links to your privacy policy (do you have one?).

Have you done anything to address the cookie-question, or are you going to carry on as business-as-usual? And if so, why and what?

Here are few of the storied being discussed on Twitter this morning:

“In an updated version of its advice for websites on how to use cookies the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said that websites can assume that users have consented to their use of them. The advice was only updated on Thursday, 48 hours before the deadline for implementing the new rules, and published the next day.”
The Guardian: Cookies law changed at 11th hour to introduce ‘implied consent’

“Fines for non-compliance were unlikely to be levied, he said [Dave Evans, ICO], because there was little risk that a non-compliant site would cause a serious breach of data protection laws that was likely to cause substantial damage and distress to a user.”
BBC News: Thousands of websites in breach of new cookie law

“The Information Commissioner’s Office has updated advice and changes to the EU cookie law on the ICO blog.  The guidance stresses that there is no ‘one size fits all approach’.  Dave Evans, the Group Manager for Business and Industry at the ICO, addresses some FAQs on the new law in a short video.”
JISC Legal
: ICO Cookies Update