A baptism of fire…

Just recording a few thoughts about using WordPress for the first time, and the trials and traumas so far…

  • DESIGN and FUNCTIONALITY

My educational background is in Art and Design, and consequently issues such as functionality, user-friendliness, and overall effective design combined with visual appeal dominate everything that I do; I strongly believe that there is absolutely no excuse for poor design, and (rather shamefully) admit to spending the majority of my time working on the visual and design aspects of resources, as opposed to the content.  The visual appeal of a resource impacts directly on students’ responses to it, and their interest and willingness to interact with it, and within my work context of delivering to adult learners whose first language is not English, who often have low levels of literacy and ICT skills, it is vital that the resources I produce have a clear layout, and are easy to access and locate.

So far, creating a WordPress blog has proved to be both challenging and disappointing in the design department.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time trawling through the various ‘themes’, and finally settled for one which (I think) will enable me to upload plenty of images which can be displayed horizontally across the page – I loathe sprawling ‘shopping list’ type pages.  However, I remain unconvinced that this was the right decision because, as yet, I’m not entirely sure how this blog will develop, what type of content I will be uploading and which visual layout would best meet its needs.  Furthermore, customising the layout and colours on the page is extremely limited – apparently I need to upgrade to enjoy the arty aspects of customising my page 😦

  • USER-FRIENDLINESS

Put bluntly, I am not especially gifted in the techie department, but I have adopted a technique of cheerfully clicking away at anything and everything until I can produce what I want, or at the very least, something broadly comparable; it’s an unpredictable and rather chaotic approach but it works for me, and I usually gain new knowledge along the way.  I’d like to say that this has been the case with WordPress, but sadly not – yes, I have published a couple of things, but am not entirely sure how and doubt I could repeat the process with ease, so I definitely need more practice.  The Dashboard is terrifying – what does it all mean?!?  At present, I have to confess to feeling that Wordpress is a bit of a headache :-S

  • BLOGGING

I find the entire concept of blogging very odd, and it would not be an understatement to say that I am an extremely reluctant blogger.  However, I am aware of the enormous advantages it offers for sharing ideas and good practice within a professional context.  I have used private blogs within VLEs to record my thoughts, student responses, identify potential problematic issues, record epic fails, and most importantly, to log my learning journey of experimentation within Moodle, and found this to be extremely useful; this was acceptable to me because access to these blogs was limited to myself and a member of the Staff Development team.   I have willingly shared my VLE work recently, following a request from Staff Development that it be used to showcase good practice both within my own department and for college-wide training purposes, and also in response to a request from a VLE team member to share it with an external provider.  However, blogging in the public domain is a completely different ball-game, and one which fills me with total horror, most likely because of the ‘unknown’ potential audience.

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