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An OWU Information Services Success Story
Ohio Wesleyan professors have been happily taking advantage of OWU’s self-hosted WordPress server and the flexible options it allows for creativity and class engagement. WordPress, an open source, online content management system, allows faculty and students to create a website and use it as an engaging platform for sharing information and/or promoting discussion.
Dr. Eva Paris-Huesca has been using WordPress for three of her classes, including “Spanish Conversation Through Cinema” and “Spanish Crime Fiction”, and shares positive feedback about her experience. “WordPress has allowed me to engage students into small group projects (research, reviews, and critical analysis of a play or film), in ways that are stimulating, positively challenging, and audio visually attractive,” Dr. Paris-Huesca says.
She continues to say that some of the best features of WordPress include “its capacity to develop a powerful project which is extremely attractive to an audience” and then easily share the work with others inside or outside the classroom, or add it to their digital portfolio.
WordPress poses a creative challenge to students which motivates them to reflect on the best way to design their project. Simultaneously, they are “learning to use technology in an effective and educational environment” which gives them skills they can later use in a professional setting.
Dr. Paris-Huesca’s students felt compelled to share ideas, and group collaboration increased around the use of WordPress. “Students were comfortable using WordPress and were very excited to share their final projects with a real audience,” she says, adding that she enjoyed being able to see students’ progress in real time and provide feedback.
There are many online platforms for building websites, some of which are free to use. One example is Wix.com which Professor TC Brown has utilized in his “Digital Media” class, (one example here.) His students create websites for their semester-long projects and add different types of content, from graphics to audio and creative page designs. Professor Brown shares that Wix is easy to use and is a great tool for creative online classroom projects.
While other tools might offer some advantages, since WordPress is hosted on campus, it is fully supported by OWU Information Services, who can provide consultation and training to faculty and students using it. WordPress is also flexible and extensible, with thousands of themes and plugins available for it. As Dr. Paris-Huesca recommends, WordPress is a powerful technological tool for independent or group student projects.