[wp-edu] Advocacy

James Groom jimgroom at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 04:40:01 GMT 2008


It's kind of what I do for a living :)

Actually, I work at the University of Mary Washington as an
instructional technologist, and we have been experimenting with
WordPress as both a blogging solution,a s well as a loose CMS,
eportfolio system, quick and easy professional sites, domain mapped
omnibus, etc. In short, we have been all over this application, we
finally went to a wpmu install almost two years ago after the demand
was too big and the upgrades and plugin management were too unwieldy
(you can see it here: http://umwblogs.org).

I think the point that WordPress is free isn't exactly true, all
software (whether open source or proprietary) somes a t a cost. And
while the application is free, time, energy and development goes into
actually creating something worthwhile and dynamic--just so happens is
that WP is one of the most flexible options because it is open and the
community is so strong (without that it would be just another blogging
app).  I get paid to help faculty and students re-imagine publishing
for their academic pursuits, and WordPress fits the needs of our
community nicely, many professors and students are familiar with it,
and the tech stuff is easy enough that a technical half-wit like
myself can make it work fairly well.

All this to say, the advocacy for WordPress comes from the people who
are using it. And arguments against free software being necessarily
problematic because ti is free, is as flawed as arguing it is
necessarily better than one you might pay for. I find I sold people on
it with examples from what others are doing, find and talk with people
who are using it at their organizations or schools, and ask them why
they use it, how they have adopted it, and what the user experience is
like.  Also, who maintains it, and what is the real cost behind
managing it.  Do they have people who help folks with it?  How much
does training cost?  Do they have PHP developers on staff? Etc.
WordPress is good, and I agree it can make one hell of a CMS, but it
does require some hacking and minimal PHP knowledge to make it work,
that said the educational community in WordPress is getting
increasingly stronger.

I've spent a good three years blogging about educational uses of
Wordpress (http://bavatuesdays.com/tag/wpmued), and I am relatively
late to the game. James Farmer has been doing it for far longer than
that, as have D'Arcy norman and many other. So, here are some examples
if you want to argue the ridiculous point that just because it is
cheaper and more flexible it has to be faulty check out the Ten ways
to use UMW Blogs:

Check out  D'Arcy Norman's UCalgary Blogs (ucalgaryblogs.org), or
EDUBLOGS (edublogs.org) which is a full-fledged business running
nearly 200,000 blogs on this "free" software.  It is solid, and it's
openness has afforded it an insane community that ensures it's
predominance, you can;t pay people to be passionate about something,
it just happens, and what follows is often both exciting and valuable.
ther eare many, many more examples, and I'm sure others on this list
will pile them on readily.

Good luck selling,

On Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 11:02 PM, Chris Hajer <chrishajer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Can anyone point to any advocacy resources online that support using
> WordPress in education?  I have run across multiple organizations, in
> government and education specifically, who feel that if it's free (as
> in beer) there must be something wrong with it.  If they're not paying
> a huge up front cost and a big license fee every year, there must be
> something wrong.  It's unnatural for them NOT pay for these things
> (and equally unnatural to me to pay for them).  Many companies exist
> to sell solutions to municipalities and school districts, but who is
> going to make the case for Open Source solutions like WordPress? As a
> taxpayer, I think it's irresponsible for my school district or local
> government to pay for a CMS when there are so many good free ones out
> there (well, the only one I can really recommend is WordPress, and
> yes, I refer to it as a CMS.)
> So, what experiences have you had *selling* WordPress for use in education?
> Thanks,
> Chris Hajer
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