It’s been a good while since I had the pleasure of working with Mike Wesch and Ryan Klataske on ANTH 101. I revisited the course recently to write a letter of support for an award submission for online courses. I am posting an extended version of that letter below because I think it paints a path with online courses that is rarely followed but is, nonetheless, replicable and worth considering. Bigger Picture? I see ANTH101 as a path forward that makes me hopeful in an online space that seems increasingly depressing.1 You have two races currently in online learning. There is a race to be the cheapest and easiest place to enroll.2 This article on Liberty “University” paints that picture pretty well. This world will be like the fast food industry in many ways. How uniform can we make things? How automated? What’s the least we can pay the fewest humans? The only path to profit will be through ridiculous scale. There will be very little difference between these providers. They will use LMS products that are very similar while following very similar online course rubrics and probably (poorly) paying many of the same adjunct/itinerant online course faculty. Additional sadness will occur when the same OPM is creating content, marketing etc. for multiple universities for the same courses and programs.3 […]
Origin Story Let’s say someone wanted people to write down very personal, very sensitive thoughts about privilege, bias etc. They’ve turned down Google Docs as an option because they heard that people can see that. They want this even if you’ve said that writing down secrets at all is not a good idea and that writing them anywhere digital, let alone the Internet, is a very bad idea. So with that said, I think this is a pretty decent way to write stuff that’s only visible to the author and to the administrator of the site. It creates a custom post type called journal and then shuts off every thing that I think allows public access. Take note of the comments below and if you see anything I’m missing let me know. I also threw this in here in case it somehow did get public somewhere. It filters content when it’s a journal post type and makes sure you’re the owner or admin. If you turn on some of the public stuff, this would still keep things pretty private.
Origin Story Kathy asked me if I had any grade book plugins that they could use with a faculty development course. The goal was to show faculty where they were in the course. I knew I did not wish to use Learn Dash for any number of reasons– grade book module costs extra, grade book module is super awkward, learn dash requires a fresh multisite install etc. I also had WPLMS from a few years ago when I think Jon asked to try it out. This felt pretty bloated for what we wanted and it wasn’t entirely obvious if it had a grade book in any case. The WordPress plugin repository shows three plugins and the most up to date has not been updated in 3 years. Not a cheerful landscape. I wondered what it would take to build an ACF-based grade book relying mostly on the repeater field and simple shortcode for displaying the grades to the user. I wasn’t looking to do math or anything. I just wanted a pretty simple interface and a way for users to see their information while administrators could see all the content. That does require people to have accounts and be logged in. A bit of hassle but there is no free lunch.1 This grade book isn’t adding up things or doing […]
Origin Story The request came in on Monday for a WordPress theme that looked like the Canvas LMS. That’s not a very dramatic origin but it’s what I’ve got. You can check out the current iteration of the theme here or get it on github here. What does Canvas look like? I’m really just imitating the pages so I went to check out a demo page. It looks something like this. In my head, I break it down into rectangles and start thinking of how to get the data into those boxes. The rough sketch below is how I conceptualized it. Most of the content is pretty straight forward as well. The Work For this type of quick work I knew that the understrap theme would get me most of the way there. It has a left sidebar template and it’s in bootstrap so no drama there. I didn’t strip this to the bones but that option remains open if we want to make this an even more streamlined theme. The two things I was less sure about were how I wanted to populate the left navigation bar and how I wanted to build out the next/previous buttons at the bottom of the page. Left Sidebar Menu I altered the sidebar-left.php file to read like this. If I haven’t assigned […]
Origin Story We had a group get in touch with us who were fairly far down the road using LearnDash for a project. I recalled seeing it in the past but had never used it myself. There were a couple things they wanted it to do that they were having trouble with and so they reached out to us. Joining in on a project late in the game is never much fun. It is best to just go with the flow rather than thinking dark thoughts around any/all of the choices made prior to your arrival. That is the path I am on. Here are choices made. Proceed to find a path forward. As I write this I also realize how much I’ve already forgotten about the wandering path this took. One more reason to keep the blog posts rolling. The Issues There were three major elements they wanted to work/work differently. Etherpad integration – integrate etherpad creation and sharing with the group function in LearnDash. Jeff handled this and got it working well. Quiz results/Group integration – the goal here was to show the choices made by all individuals in the same group on the completion of the quiz. I did this but am still not in the mood to write about it. Proctor Grading/Commenting – build a minimalist […]
I’ve long wanted to build more interactive digital content after being inspired by Brett Victor’s explorable explanations. I’m now finally coming to the place where my ability to build things is starting to match my desire to create them. This particular piece of interactive content was inspired by the NYT’s You Draw It Obama article. We did a direct imitation with carbon sequestration a while ago but I liked the broader concept of guessing at something and then being presented with data. In this case we’re trying to get people to think a little harder about the good things they got out of life just by being born. Form Tweaking First I wanted to tweak the gravity form layout. Given our first question was a placement on a scale of -10 to 10, that content needed to be arranged horizontally. This is Gravity Forms and the radio button input type. So I copied the HTML into a codepen to play with it. This is the result. See the Pen gform layout by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. Results Display Another pattern I find myself repeating is roughing out the data display portion in Codepen. I can then figure out how I need Gravity Forms/WordPress to pass the data live but it’s easier to build out the experience a bit without worrying […]