The Use of WordPress for a Course Website

One of my favourite parts of my job is having the opportunity to teach pre-service teachers in an undergraduate course in the College of Education. I teach ETAD 470 – Design and Use of Online Resources. This course covers the pedagogical and technological aspects of using things like blogs, wikis, podcasts and other types of tools in teaching and learning.

I taught this class for the first time in Term 2 of the 2011-2012 academic year. As part of the course I created a course blog using Google’s Blogger service where I shared weekly resources with the students and a Google Site where I listed all of the required readings and any Youtube videos that I showed in class. I also used BBlearn to list details about the assignments and my PowerPoints (I used Open Courseware for this as well).

In the course evaluations at the end of the term, some students commented that they didn’t like having to go to multiple online locations to access materials for the course (the ones listed above plus Google Reader which they used to follow each others blogs). I combined the blog and Google Site into one site using WordPress, which the U of S is now using as its blogging platform. I don’t want to only use Blackboard for a number of reasons including students retaining access to the materials after the class and showing them a good example of a public class Website. The single site also includes the syllabus, details about all assignments (including the grading rubrics), shared resources for the week (I bookmark these throughout the week using the social bookmarking tool Diigo) and other useful information. I will continue to add to the shared resources so that past, current and future students can continue to benefit, as can any other educators who stumble across the site.

ETAD 470 Home Page

This term I also made a few screencast tutorials providing some additional help for students on the more technical aspects of the course. I also had three separate guest speakers come in using Google Hangouts. I recorded the third one, and the video appears on YouTube along with the tutorials. All of these have been shared in the blog section of the Website, where the weekly shared resources go as well.

Using a public course Website, as opposed to only putting materials in BBLearn has a number of benefits, including the ones that I’ve already mentioned. In addition, it serves as a way of promoting your course to other students. Using a blogging tool such as WordPress for your course site also allows students (and others) to subscribe to the RSS feed from the blog page to keep track of additions.

What could you use such a site for? What resources could you share with students (present as well as past and future)? What could you be sharing with other educators.

If you’re interested in setting up a class blog or public site we can advise you about effectively using one in your class. If you want to use WordPress specifically, sign up for a free site through ICT.

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