WordPress in UK Education Event: Would you come? Do we need one? Are you using it?

At the end of July I shared a couple of links via Google+ and my Tumblr site about an LMS app theme for WordPress and WPLMS, both of which focus on developing LMS/VLE type functionality for WordPress.  I find this sort of stuff interesting because the team I work with have been migrating our teaching resources from Blackboard to a new learning portal built in WordPress.  This migration has been the culmination of three years work, starting with blogs on WordPress.com to support undergraduate teaching to then setting up our own WordPress multiuser site.  Feedback from staff and students have informed and driven our developments  to the point that our undergraduate medical curriculum is now delivered via WordPress.

Reading about LMS app theme got me thinking and I posed this question on Google +

I think I may have said this before but couldn’t a few of us in the UK using WordPress as an alternative to the more traditional VLEs work together to get some JISC funding to develop some useful WP educational plugins and functionality?

As Martin Hawksey quickly pointed out there are others using WordPress in education in the UK, there’s been interesting things going at the University of  Lincoln, Dumfries and Galloway College have been using WordPress as an eportfolio tool.  There’s also the work of Jim Groom at the Universty of Mary Washington, which was one of the initial triggers for my interest in WordPress, and more recently his DS106 cMOOC.  Steve Bonham joined the conversation which then spilled over to Twitter and Pat Lockley also chipped in and  we talked about the possibility of a meeting to showcase how WordPress in being used in UK HE and explore whether there might be opportunities to explore funding to support WordPress development.

So as the title of this post asks, do you think we should try and hold some sort of UK WordPress in education event?  Would you be interested, would you come?  There is a JISC WordPress listserv but it has very little activity.  There are growing numbers of individuals and organisations using WordPress in UK education, there are annual Blackboard user meetings and Moodle meetings and although there is annual UK Wordcamp there’s not an educational event.

Do we need an event?  Should we start a google doc where we could detail who’s using WordPress and how, a bit like Matt Lingard’s doc on UK VLEs?  Would you be interested in a Google Hangout for a starter discussion?  Would there be any chance of funding from JISC or other groups that might fund a WordPress special interest group or an educational WP hackday type of event?

I was going to publish this post following that conversation, but things were too busy and hopefully I’ve not missed a trick in not striking while the iron was hot!  What do you think, are you interested? Would be great to hear from you via the comments here, Twitter, Google+ and any other channels that this post might be shared.

Posterous users flock to WordPress: Technology shelf life

shelf life — after by theogeo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  theogeo 

So WordPress saw a 250% increase in imports from Posterous within 24 hours of the announcement that it had been acquired by Twitter.  Only 18 months ago, in August 2010, Posterous was announcing that WordPress was a dying platform.  It was quite aggressively encouraging bloggers to use its import tool to move over to Posterous and I blogged about this at the time.  Now Posterous users are worried it’s going to die because it’s been bought over by Twitter.

It seems so many tools that get widely adopted seem to have a short shelf life.  I never did get into Friendfeed, but once it was taken over by Facebook, further development stopped and those that liked using it became concerned about its long term viability and started to look for alternatives.  I took a look at Amplify and that’s another service that recently without warning very suddenly closed down.  Amplify users have been directed to Clipboard but they’ve lost access to their content and there’s no guarantee that their content will be migrated over at a future date.

There was a significant cafuffle when it was announced that Yahoo was closing down Delicious, people migrated to  Diigo, Zootool, Pinboard and others.  I felt quite smug at the time because I saved my bookmarks to Diigo and had them autoposting to Delicious, so I had a back-up already.  Then Delicious was bought over and relaunched and users weren’t happy with the new look and feel.

More recently I’ve been using Scoop.it to curate content, sometime I make use of the autoposting function and cross post to Tumblr so a few things are backed up there but not everything.  Google+ and Pinterest are also new flavours of the month.  I’ve resisted Pinterest but am trying to give Google+ a go.

Sometimes I think I dip in and out of too many tools.  But as Alan Cann always wisely reminds us it’s about building networks not destinations.  So if one of the tools or platforms I use closes down I can still connect with people.  That’s good but if I lose my content that’s still a big deal.  Sometimes it seems like we have to constantly keep our ears to the ground to make sure we don’t get caught out by one of our favourite tools dying overnight or being bought over by a bigger fish in the sea and then killed off.  This is exactly what Posterous users are worried about, the concern being Twitter has bought it for the talent that developed Posterous rather than the platform itself.

It’s a pity technology doesn’t come with a best before date stamped on it.

Thinking about Posterous, Friendfeed and Tumblr

Last month Posterous ran a marketing campaign targeting users of Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, amongst others, trying to tempt them over to Posterous.  Posterous has claimed that platforms like WordPress are dying and that users should make the most of their new import tools and transfer their blogs over to them.  The tone of Posterous’ campaign come in for some criticism and there was a piece on ReadWriteWeb questioning whether calling out dying platforms was good for Posterous? Another blog onecoolsitebloggingtips posed the question, Preposterous or Posterous?, highlighting that many have not been impressed with ‘the direction the Posterous advertising has gone’.

So will I be moving my blog to Posterous? No I don’t think I will.  I have WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous sites but I use them for different things.  I don’t blog here as often as I would want to, but I like that here on WordPress (WP) I can save drafts of pieces that I’m writing and come back to them.  Maybe I’m missing something on Posterous, but I can’t see an option to save a post as a draft, I seem to have to publish a post as private and then come back to it and then when it’s finished change it to public view.  Posterous is adding new functionality at quite a pace so this may come on stream before too long.

I initially started using Posterous as a bit of an online scrapbook and then started my football blog there and recently I’ve been thinking about whether to move this over to WP.  Perhaps I’m just a creature of habit, but I do prefer using WP and maybe it’s because as I see this as the place to think out loud and places like Posterous as somewhere to aggregate things that I find of interest.  Martin Weller outlined over a year ago on The Ed Techie how he was using Tumblr as a place to dump interesting things he comes across, whilst his blog was the place he thinks things through.  I’ve been using Tumblr in a similar way, it’s the place I post things on the web that I find interesting.  I prefer the Tumblr toolbar bookmarklet to the Posterous one because it gives me  more options including the option to save to draft.  I don’t post much by email, but if I wanted to I can do that with Tumblr too and there’s also a neat little app for the iPhone.  Posterous have made much about the fact that Tumblr doesn’t have comments as standard, but it’s easy to add this by integrating your Disqus account.

Over the past month I’ve been thinking a bit more about how I want to use Tumblr and also taking another look at Friendfeed.  I’ve been following Alan Cann’s pieces about Friendfeed over on his Science of the Invisible Blog with interest and decided it was time to give it another go.  I signed up ages ago but never really got it.  My Friendfeed feed just seemed to be full of people’s tweets, so recently I took Alan’s advice and culled a lot of the people I followed, I unsubscribed everyone that was just publishing their twitter stream as I already see these tweets on Twitter.  The thing now is to find people to follow.  Part of the problem for me seems to be the lack of individuals working in medical education who are active on sites like Friendfeed, Twitter etc.  Whilst I’ve not really started to follow anyone new on Friendfeed I have started to follow some people on Tumblr.  It’s not that easy to find people to follow on Tumblr but I’ve found a few and it’s been interesting to discover information and content that I wasn’t coming across via Twitter or other channels I use.  The one drawback of Tumblr is that you can’t easily comment or enter into dailogue with other Tumblr users because of the lack of commenting as standard, which is a bit frustrating.  You can only comment if people have installed a Disqus account and not many people have done this.

I’ll continue to use Tumblr as my online scrap book and perhaps with time more people might add Disqus so that there can be a bit more discussion which will add further value.  I will also keep checking Friendfeed but I’m still not sure if it’s for me.  More recently I’ve come across Amplify, which seems a bit like Friendfeed and I’d be interested to hear what others think of it and what value they get from using it.  As for Posterous I’ll continue to use it but I don’t think it’s going to kill off WordPress and Flickr.  If the Posterous bookmarklet web posting was more like the Tumblr one and you could save to draft maybe it will give Tumblr a run for its money and I might end up using it more.