WordPress University

Image by Tom Woodward: WordPress RevolutionThe NorthEast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP) is hosting an all day conference on April 6th that is entirely dedicated to WordPress in Higher Ed brilliantly titled “WordPress University.” The conference features a range of speakers dealing with everything from WordPress for libraries, college web sites, academic networks, and teaching and learning spaces. It’s a pretty comprehensive program and covers a lot of ground, and I’m definitely interested in Jay Collier’s work with Bates College, their main site is run on WordPress, and given UMW is currently thinking about a new CMS for their website, Jerry Slezak and I are going to make the pitch for WPMu being the hub for the umw.edu site. And I have some interesting ideas for the architecture, syndication, and deep integration with UMW Blogs, so Jay’s session is of particular interest to me right now.

What’s more, Matt Gold and Boone Gorges will be featuring their awesome work with the CUNY Academic Commons and the cutting edge work they are doing with Buddypress. Their approach to the social network for faculty and graduate students at CUNY should be of pressing interest to just about every college and university out there right now—they are making a social network that respects people’s pre-existing spaces online while simultaneously providing an essential network for the folks of CUNY.

And while unlike the WordCampEd events this one isn’t free, I hope they figure out a way to stream and/or capture these sessions because I for one am dying to see them.

And on a broader note, it is fascinating to see a professional organization like NERCOMP devote an entire conference to WordPress, I think it is more than warranted and a sign of things to come. More campuses exploring and hacking on open source applications like WordPress to start re-imagining the social implications of web-based communities for publishing, research, teaching, and learning. It points to one possible future of how colleges and universities can start re-imagining their web presence as more than a brochure, but an open, dynamic space that exposes and shares the thinking happening at these institutions, and the next logical step is for us to start making more meaningful connections between individuals at the distributed learning institutions. Something as simple as a new platform, provides something as beautifully powerful and complex as a rich network of teaching, learning, and scholarship.  We need to explore these possibilities together. NERCOMP’s “WordPress University” seems like an excellent step in that direction.

Image credit: Bionic Teaching’s “WordPress Revolution”

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