Enhancing WordPress as a Learning Technology

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  • A Writing Assignment Critiquing Tool

    Philosophy professor Christina Hendricks knew she could improve the critiquing process for students in her Arts One course by moving the process online. But none of the existing learning technology tools met her requirements.

    I wanted to be able to have students submit an essay where only people in their group can see the essay and make comments.

    Christina felt comfortable using WordPress—the platform for UBC Content Management System (CMS) and UBC Blogs—yet the platform on its own did not offer a solution. She mentioned her idea in passing to staff at CTLT, and to her surprise, they wanted to know more.

    They’re like, ‘We should actually have a meeting and see if that might be something other people could use

    Her suggestion led to several collaborative meetings with other faculty members and CTLT developers. The group looked at Christina’s requirements and planned new features in a modular way so they could be used by anyone at UBC.

    Christina’s idea ultimately resulted in a new set of plugins for WordPress called Studiorum. These tools significantly enhance what instructors can do, including letting students submit written work on the front end, enabling comments to be left on individual paragraphs, and setting different permissions for different groups of students.

    I was really surprised that I could just say, ‘You know, I’d like to do x, y, and z, and they’re really complicated’, and then it happened.

    Christina embraced the new tools in her course and worked closely with CTLT to iron out the kinks. She feels good about the end result and what this customized support means for her.

    If there is something I need to do, and the technology that we have is not helping me do that, then I can go to someone and either find a way to make that technology do what I want or, as long as what I want is useful for others, come up with a new tool
    Christina’s experience working on Studiorum also helped her feel more empowered in her teaching overall.