WordPress has many uses today and has come a long way since its original blogging roots (although it is still #1 as a blog platform). It isn’t uncommon to see WordPress used for content management, user directory, membership site, classified ads, and much more.
Since its inception, WordPress has been molded and shaped in unique ways, and has rightfully found its way into education and training.
Because of its ease-of-use, WordPress allows educational and training professionals to quickly create valuable content.
That said, not all training is created equal. Not because of the content, but because of the delivery and user-experience.
It is because of this that I have decided to write on the topic, specifically some tips to create effective elearning while leveraging WordPress.
Know Your Audience
One of the first things to do on any training project is to define the audience, and then to formulate objectives for them. Objectives writing can be challenging, but it is crucial to any training endeavor, including one on WordPress.
- What are the desired outcomes based on the material at hand?
- Is your content informational only?
- Do you want to change behavior?
- Do you require proof of knowledge acquisition?
- Is the learning path “open” or structured?
The answers to questions like these will dictate much about your set-up, including how you want to deliver the content and the experience you want your users to have when engaging with the content. It could be that all you need are a few blog posts, or perhaps you need a learning management system.
Choose Your Host
Naturally you’ll need a domain name and a host for your site. There are a ton of options here but it can be easy to over-think it. Just go with a popular shared hosting program like HostGator to begin and you can always scale up (within HostGator, or via a WordPress specific host). For many though, the shared hosting plans will work just fine.
Choose Your Theme
When it comes to theme selection, it is important to pick something that won’t be limiting and that accurately reflects both you and the content. This is actually an important piece of the puzzle as it will drive the user learning experience. Pick a boring theme, and your content might be perceived the same.
In general, I recommend you either pick a theme that is on wordpress.org, or you purchase one from a premium theme market. If possible, purchasing a premium theme will be more useful in the long-run since they often come with support. But before making the purchase, make sure you do your research and read current customer reviews on the matter.
Support is everything in WordPress.
Choose Your Plugins
Before building your site, you should also do some research on the plugins you may want to use. Plugins are a great way to add some added functionality that isn’t built into WordPress naturally.
Do you want a contact form? Do you want a custom login logo? These are the kinds of things you’ll want to think about ahead of time as it will save you from searching later on.
Just like there are free themes, there are many free plugins. Create a document and map out possible plugins for different features. This way, when it comes to building the site, you already have a roadmap.
You may also want to consider a paid (premium) plugin for many of the same reasons you would get a paid theme.
Premium plugins are often developed and updated a lot more often. They also are more likely to come with support should you run into any snags along the way.
Again though, do your research. Not all premium plugin providers make support a priority and are multisite compatible. Also, consider the source. A theme or plugin “factory” might be less able to provide you the personal assistance for your project. Whenever possible, go with the specialist over the generalist.
All in Place
With your audience and objectives defined, hosting in place, theme selected, and possible plugins list – you are ready to begin your WordPress teaching journey. All that’s left is to get it all set-up… oh and to create your content too! 😉