The recent discussion around reimagining online events has raised some challenges in bringing WordCamps online and has suggested some really interesting alternatives for WordPress community organisers to try out. This kind of discussion is not unique to the WordPress community — groups all over the world have been struggling to adapt their in-person events to an online platform.
The WordPress community must keep iterating on effective ways to share valuable content that will help people learn to use and contribute to WordPress.
Moving beyond synchronous events
Since the day this team was formed, events have been our primary tool to grow the WordPress community, helping people learn to use and contribute to WordPress. Events can be an effective way to work toward that goal, because learning in a shared space, with like-minded people, can foster a feeling of belonging which helps people stick with WordPress even when things get rough.
However, building community through events brings limitations. If someone can’t attend our events, due to geography, schedules, or other barriers, then they are left out. We approach this challenge by trying to foster community in as many places and events in as many times and locations as possible (Whew!). Thousands of people contribute to this amazing effort.
Online events greatly reduce how geography limits the reach of our events (yay!), but the limitation of synchronous events remains. If someone can’t attend the hangout or Zoom at 6pm, then they’re mostly out of luck. Also, our organising work is less efficient than it could be, with multiple speakers/organisers sharing content about the same subjects in different locations all over the globe.
Currently, if someone wants to learn more about WordPress from WordPress, they have a few options:
- Read some documentation.
- Find a local meetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. or WordCamp 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., and hope the topic that they want to learn shows up in the schedule.
- Watch WordPress.tv or YouTube and hope that they understand the presentation on the topic (if there is one).
What if there was another way?
Proposal: Recorded workshops + synchronous discussion groups
The most efficient way to reach the largest number of people and help them learn how to use and contribute to WordPress, is with recorded workshops that can be viewed whenever someone has the time and interest. Recorded talks or workshops make learning available to everyone in the world, no matter what timezone they’re in, what schedule they follow, or when they discover an interest.
But as we all know, synchronous discussions are incredibly powerful. They facilitate connection, mutual learning, exchange of ideas, and personal development.
What if we blended those two elements into a program that provides the flexibility of online content, with the value and sense of community that comes with learning together?
We could publish workshops in a central location (on
wordpress.org, for better visibility and reach) and then invite learners to join live discussion groups that cater to different timezones. This “flipped classroom” model allows people to learn at their convenience, and then come together for additional development.
The workshops could be put together by people who would otherwise be speaking at WordCamps, and we could even use existing content from WordPress.TV or talks that are being given at online meetups Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook.. There is also potential for longer courses, composed of multiple workshops, and a group that meets repeatedly over time.
Once the discussion group or workshop is complete, the discussion group leader could recommend that the learners check out their local community groups for more WordPress learning and camaraderie.
This approach has the potential to grow WordPress as a platform, and support our mission of helping people learn to use and contribute to WordPress, in an exciting new way.
If you agree that this idea is exciting, or if you have a question or suggestion, please leave a comment on this post! Here are some specific questions to get you started:
- Have you seen a workshop in the past year that you’d recommend to be included in a first iteration of this program?
- What topics would be important to include in an initial offering of workshops?
- Are you interested in helping to develop content for a program like this, or reviewing proposed content for accuracy?
- Would you be interested in leading a discussion group for a workshop, or training discussion group leaders?