Committing to Committing – OLE & #twp15


flickr photo shared by yewenyi under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

There will be never be enough time.1 So in honor of that I’m going to be participating in UBC’s Teaching with WordPress while ALT Lab runs a similar course at VCU that we call OLE.2 The UBC course is obviously focused on teaching online with WordPress and has a strong open/connectivist/Canadian3 vibe. OLE is more broadly focused on connected learning and online teaching in general but also has strong WordPress emphasis.

And you should play along in either or both with me. I’ll be doing my best to entwine the two groups in interesting ways. We even have an early optional assignment that is mean to do just that.

Embrace it all with reckless exuberance. Consider this a formal invitation.4

I’ll tell you a bit about what we’ve built out, in WordPress so it’s useful to #TWP15 and the OLE group,Throw your sets up. as the backbone of the OLE course.

First, the site is using the Skips theme that Mark Luetke5 developed with other good people at VCU Arts. It does a few interesting tricks like loading the child pages into one continuous scroll and highlighting that navigational element as you move through the components. It’s easier to go there and try it if that description makes no sense. Structurally we opted for this look because it’s essentially an outline to the topics and navigation at the same time. Hopefully it provides a big picture view and detail at the same time.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.09.44 PM
We’re doing some smaller assignments that are optional. We’re calling them “Makes.” It’s like the DS106 setup and the student will choose enough assignments to earn a certain number of stars. These activities are written/provisioned through a Gravity form that creates posts which are assigned to specific locations by putting them in particular categories.6 I’ll be refining the form creation process in the next few days so that anyone can submit assignments. One of the complexities there at the moment is gathering activities that happen on Twitter and providing for that option in the form. I don’t have a slick way to mechanically generate the Twitter widget as I couldn’t get Alan’s Daily Create stuff working the last time I tried.7

I opted to start having activities tied into Twitter, despite the complications, for a few reasons. First, there were just too many blog posts especially for this early stuff. I wanted some variety and we’re trying to get people used to Twitter so it made sense to use it regularly. Tweets end up tied to a particular make by using the #vcualtlab hashtag and a Make specific hashtag (like #makeKarma). I’m not entirely happy with the hashtag convention but went with consistency and simplicity over some of the other choices I might have made. It’ll work and in desperate times we can always quote tweet.8 You can see the Twitter widget working in the image below.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.10.13 PM

We’ve only put out the first chunk of content/activities but as we get a better feel for the participants we’ll get much more out there.

We also opted to use the #vcualtlab hashtag and move this group into the larger mix rather than doing what we’ve done in the past and having a separate #vcuole hashtag. Instead I created a list of participants if people ended up needing/wanting a tighter focus of communication. I did learn that adding yourself to a list was a bit of a hassle. Maybe Twitter is just trying to prevent list-inflated egos.


1 There’s plenty of it but they limit you to one life per customer. Your religion may vary.

2 Say it like you’re Spanish.

3 I do love Canadians. For real.

4 As such I will expect an RSVP in writing.

5 Mark’s a new player in ALT Lab who will have a blog I can link to very soon.

6 The category ‘promise’ ties the Make to the first section of the course but putting something like the Instant Karma Make in all categories will make it show up throughout the course.

7 Fault is likely entirely mine.

8 Reminder to myself to see how many levels of quote tweets are possible. What happens?

Comments on this post

  1. cindyu said on June 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I am skipping on over here from TWP15. Thanks for sharing your design approach for OLE! I like the approach you’ve taken to tie your Makes to Twitter. It is true that a group can become blog post heavy and Twitter allows you to see the stream of activity more easily? I think it gets people interacting with each other in a less stressful kind of way . Commenting on posts allows for some thoughtful responses, but takes time and sometimes you just want to say – that’s cool and favorite it!

    • Tom Woodward said on June 1, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks for coming over Cindy. The website will be developing as I get a sense for what’s up with this particular group of participants. I’m pretty excited that TWP15 is running at the same time and look forward to wandering back and forth frequently. Hopefully there will be lots of us.

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  1. […] Because other obligations were keeping me from doing my best job leading OLE and because he’s awesome, I turned over leadership of OLE to Tom Woodward about 6 weeks ago. With grace, professionalism and speed, Tom whipped the experience into the shape it’s in now. Tom does a nice job explaining some of the thinking behind the design of OLE in his last blog post. […]

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