Education has been brought to the forefront recently with WordPress.com’s move towards the Education market.
Although there are some groups like Edublogs using WordPress to provide educational functions and services there are groups outside the WordPress ecosystem that have created some more unique and useful features that we are yet to see in WordPress (via themes or plugins).
Moodle is one of these groups who have some features that really set it apart as an Educational platform.
I’m going to list some features that I believe would be very useful as a set plugin or theme to marketed in an Educational setting. Some of these features can be found separately but the certainly aren’t available in one easy to install and set up package…yet. (If they are then please do tell me bellow!)
Integration with Webinars
Webinars are a great way to bring a live classroom around the world. Although asynchronous learning can be good fun and valuable there is something about a classroom and the live presentation which is different. Being able to ask and answer questions live and have a teacher react can be very useful for a students development. Having lead and taken part in Webinars myself I really enjoy both aspects.
Examples of webinar software include
More Post, Page Formats
This can be edited but I haven’t come across a good default plugin yet (please suggest one if you know one) and simple features like plugins are really useful for the less tech savvy teachers. What sort of formats would help? What about
- Submissions (more bellow)
- Live collaboration (a post where you don’t have to go “to the dashboard” to edit but everyone can edit live)
Okay you can download files from a WordPress site but what about more integrated file viewing with in a post? A PDF viewer that means you can host copy right content that only logged on students can see rather than everyone on scribd, slideshare or a similar service.
Going back to a point about live collaboration in post types, I’d like to see a lot more ways for students to interact with each other both live and asynchronously. Learning with other people is better than learning alone and being able to assist other students as well. Project work and collaboration is also a very useful skill to teach.
A great feature to add would be “class comments” or something similar. Where students are grouped into classes (or even year groups) and then they can only see the comments belonging to their peers in that class. This way you could get very different class discussions on the same source.
What’s more, it helps encourage the more self concious of individuals who know only their classmates will read these comments.
Conversely it save the teacher time from having to recreate the same post for different groups.
Okay I know there are calendar plugins out there that can show timetables, submission dates etc but what about an adaptable one.
One where depending on the account you have logged in with you can see your individual schedule, time table and assignments.
Okay there are services like Aweber, Mailchimp, and WYSIJA where you can email your students the latest updates, but for a service where you have multiple classes at multiple levels you might need something a bit more sophisticated.
A way to set homework, send out reminders of deadlines, inform students that submission windows are open, send out the latest notice and even send out links to webinars.
All from the comfort of the main control panel of course.
Getting students to submit work is just as important as setting the tasks. Having a feature where a student (or group of students) can submit their work (perhaps an enhanced contact form?) and have it automagically checked for plagiarism would be brilliant.
Well I couldn’t mention WordPress and Education and not talk about blogging in some way could I! Although group blogging is a feature that has been built into WordPress for sometime in a school or institutional wide system it would make sense to have a system where not everyone posts to the same blog.
Perhaps this could just be a member level as some membership sites have or perhaps it would be better to have a subdomain system set up so that each student or class has it’s own blog for posting on.
Moodle isn’t perfect but It has some features that aren’t on WordPress.com or Edublogs (yet).
It is possible to find some of these features in Membership sites themes or plugins but they still aren’t up to the standards they could/should be. I’d love to see a programmer take up the challenge to make some truly amazing WordPress educational features.