Outreachy week 1: Getting to know the domain

Hi, Community Team! So as @andreamiddleton mentioned in one of her previous posts, this summer I got a chance to participate in a learning-related project for the WordPress Community team within the Outreachy internship. I’m really excited about being chosen and this is a tremendous opportunity for me to make an actual contribution to the open-source software world which we all benefit so much from. A little bit about myself: I’m located in St.Petersburg, Russia, I’ve got a M.Sc. degree in Information Systems from NYU (via Fulbright Program), and in my down time I enjoy yoga and hiking, but also being a couch potato with my husband & friends. I will be posting weekly updates every Tuesday to let you know what was the last week about and what was accomplished, and what are my plans for the week to come, so here is my first post.

The goal of the first month of my internship is to create three training solutions based on the existing handbooks: one for community deputies, one for WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. organizers, and one for meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. organizers. Basically, this is going to be the same material as the handbooks are currently featuring, but reorganized and with quizzes inserted. The idea behind these changes is to increase the efficiency of the material by:

  • Enhancing retention by making the learners practice effortful retrieval of the material they just read when answering the quiz questions
  • Accenting the points we consider being the most important by asking questions based on them
  • Providing the learners with an opportunity to self-check their comprehension of the material

(If you’re interested to learn more about quizzes and tests being great for learning you can check out this and this)

Given that, the first step was to analyze the material and the first deliverable was composing outlines. Organizing the materials and creating a course backbone out of them is a crucial step in a training delivery – we have to make sure course content is organised logically, the chunks of information are easily digestible and a learner is able to get a solid comprehension of the subject matter when linearly going through the material as suggested. So I was reading and re-reading the handbooks for a while, and after that attempting various ways to organize them in a way that would make the most sense for someone who will get to see the course for the first time. You can view both of them (we haven’t started with the Meetup organizer handbook materials yet): Community Deputy Handbook-based outline and one for WordCamp Organizers.

The second part of the week I was ready to move the materials to the e-learning solution we are using – the WordPress pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party Sensei, while shaping it according to the outlines. With Sensei I’ve been able to figure out how to do most of the things I needed without the manual, so it probably says quite a lot about its usability 🙂 and with the issues I got stuck on, I got help from Andrea and @hlashbrooke who actually has been a lead developer of Sensei for quite a while! Hehe lucky me. However, there were also some caveats. I have planned the outline to be three levels (Module -> Unit -> Lesson) but then it turned out Sensei only supports 2 levels. Which is definitely something I should have checked beforehand (mea culpa). However @hlashbrooke suggested a great workaround we agreed to use – “Course CategoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging.” will be used as the top level of the course entity, and what I planned to be “modules” will be “courses” in terms of Sensei terminology. Course categories work similarly to the standard blog categories, but for courses, and I’m really happy with the way this feature saved the day.

Next steps will be writing questions – and this is something I’m actually looking forward to! I really like figuring out how to ask a question on the learning objective we want to reach, and how to create distractors for the questions that would be plausible but wrong. Creating multiple choice questions is actually quite an art.

Overall, I’m really enjoying my experience so far. It’s nice to be learning something, and it’s absolutely awesome to have support from my mentor when I’m feeling a bit stuck or unsure how to proceed. So stay tuned, and I’ll be back next Tuesday, telling you more about how my journey will be unfolding.

#community-management, #meetups-2, #outreachy, #training-workshops, #wordcamps