Since there is general agreement about the proposal for a new online content format that involves asynchronous workshops combined with synchronous discussion groups, as well as the fact that we will not be seeing any in-person events in the WordPress community for the foreseeable future, let’s make a plan for setting up the first iteration of the new format that is currently being called “Learn WordPress”.
This post is a long one, but it’s worth the read! Expand the content and read through to the end for some opportunities to get involved.
Why are we doing this?
We have seen that online WordCamps just aren’t meeting the needs of the community in the way that we had originally hoped they would. At the same time, online content allows us far more flexibility with formats and timing than regular in-person events. This opens us up to being able to tailor WordPress content delivery to work within a global, online context and allows people to absorb all the same content no matter where they are in the world. Check out this post for a more lengthy look at the reasons for this new initiative.
What do we know?
We know that the current online 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. format is generally not sustainable and that people are not wanting to sit watching talks at home for 6+ hours. We also know that the community is thirsty for new formats and would really like to see innovation from event organisers.
Outside the WordPress space, we have seen that a model of pre-recorded online courses combined with synchronous discussion groups is working well. This course from David Perell is good as a time-bound example, and you can read a more detailed case study of a great example from Harvard in this New Yorker article.
What don’t we know?
Since we haven’t directly tested this in the WordPress community, we don’t yet know how well it will work for us. We also don’t know how many community members will be on board for contributing content to it, although the initial applications for workshops have been going well and anecdotal reports show that there is a lot of interest in being a part of this.
What are we going to do?
The plan is to set up a new learning repository on Learn.WordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ where workshop content will be made available. The first iteration will have a few workshops followed up with scheduled discussion group times. Presenters have already been applying for this, as have people volunteering to review content and lead discussion groups.
Once the first iteration is live, hopefully more community members will want to be involved in contributing content, as well as running the discussion groups.
Who will be involved?
This is being managed by the Community team, but we also have members of the Meta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. team involved for the development side of things. The Training team is also involved in content generation for the Learn site, and the Marketing team will need to be engaged for a broader rollout. We’ll also need to coordinate with the WordPress.tv team, and recruit translators for workshop video captions. It would be great to see videos from all locales, not just English, so we could do some outreach with the Polyglots team Polyglots Team is a group of multilingual translators who work on translating plugins, themes, documentation, and front-facing marketing copy. https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/teams/. to get localised content produced as well.
The project will be successful if community members get involved in contributing content and managing the processes going forward. 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. group organisers will also be a key to success here as they are well-positioned to organise discussion groups with their local communities.
What guiding questions do we need to answer?
Here are a few questions to guide the next steps here — some of these have already been answered and will be highlighted in the roadmap below:
- What will the first content be, and how many workshops will be available at launch?
- Who will present the first workshops?
- Who will run the first of the synchronous discussion groups?
- Where will the content be hosted – WordPress.TV or the WordPress YouTube channel, or both?
- Must workshop videos be English-only, or can they be from any locale?
- How will this be promoted to the community?
- Beyond the first iteration, how will other contributors get involved in providing content, as well as running discussion groups?
- How will success be measured?
- While we’re in initial phases of this launch, can another form be created for the community to suggest topics not already being worked on? Maybe even to nominate a specific person to present the workshop.
- Once we have the first iteration live, we will need to track metrics like the number of views and number of attendees for discussion groups. How will we do this? How do we judge if this venture has been successful or not?
- Are there different features planned for the full launch that are not in the soft launch?
- Can approved meetup organisers lead a discussion group without applying to lead?
- Should the workshops be available after some kind of registration has occurred. If not, should we try to prevent an established Meetup group from using these resources?
What is the current roadmap for this project?
Work has already begun and some questions have already been answered, so let’s dive into some answers and a roadmap for the launch and ongoing management of Learn WordPress.
Current status: In development
Learn WordPress is now in the WordPress GitHub repository and development is progressing rapidly. Workshops are being submitted and people are applying to review them as well as to run discussion groups around the workshop content. Since development is being done on GitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/, you can get involved by logging and commenting on issues, as well as contributing code.
Development is being managed by @hlashbrooke with the majority of the code being written by @dufresnesteven and @coreymckrill.
Soft launch: Planned for Wednesday, 12 August 2020
The initial launch of Learn WordPress will be announced on make.wordpress.org/community and will be posted in Slack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. – this will be a soft launch and not promoted widely. The plan is to start off with a minimum of 4 workshops, including:
- Intro to Gutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/ development – presented by @psykro
- Intro to publishing with the block Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. editor – presented by @evarlese
- Intro to contributing to WordPress – presented by @camikaos & @courtneypk
- Intro to open-source (like these workshops) – presented by @harishanker
These workshops have already been submitted and are currently being worked on by the presenters. There are also workshops from the Diversity Speaker Training group (led by @jillbinder) as well as the Youth Events Working Group (led by @sunsand187).
Discussion groups for these workshops will be scheduled about a week after their launch. Discussions will be led by the people who have applied to run the groups and will cover various time zones.
Currently, the plan is for workshop videos to be hosted on WordPress.tv and possibly cross-posted to the WordPress YouTube channel for broader discoverability.
The initial launch will just be an announcement on this P2 P2 or O2 is the term people use to refer to the Make WordPress blog. It can be found at https://make.wordpress.org/. and in Slack, so sometime after that, a more complete launch will need to take place. This will require a further discussion, and we will need to establish some details that would define when we’re ready to move forward – things like the number of workshops published, how active discussion groups are, what date we want to do it, etc. This could be a great opportunity for collaboration with the Marketing team, so we can get the word out to as many WordPress users as possible.
If possible, we should establish a regular cadence of releasing new content. My suggestion would be to publish new workshops every Thursday, without committing to a specific number each time. This would ensure that the site always contains fresh content, but it will require that we have something of a backlog of videos that are ready to go when we need them. We can also look for quality workshops that are already published on WordPress.tv and see if the presenters are happy with their content being used on Learn.
I have also posted a proposal for the workshop submission and review process that needs some discussion. Oversight of the submission and review process, as well as who will be doing the reviews, will be handled by @rmarks.
Ongoing Discussion Groups
As more workshops are added to the site, the number of discussion groups will grow. For this to be sustainable, there will need to be enough people to lead the groups as well as an effective way for people to sign up for them. There is an open proposal and discussion about the best way to manage this. To ensure that we have a large base of discussion group leaders, I would suggest we focus on the following three groups of people:
- Volunteers who would like to sign up for it
- Meetup group organisers who can use these discussion groups as an event for their meetup group
- The workshop presenters themselves
Since Learn WordPress is a WordPress.org site, the development and maintenance of the site will be handled by the Meta team.
Workshop Content Requirements
Since these workshops will be intended for people to learn from asynchronously, the workshops will need some additional information on top of the videos themselves. Here is a possible list of content requirements for each workshop:
- The recorded presentation
- The WordPress.org username of the presenter (which would allow the site to show their avatar An avatar is an image or illustration that specifically refers to a character that represents an online user. It’s usually a square box that appears next to the user’s name., full name and other info from their public profile)
- A set of learning objectives for the workshop
- A set of comprehension questions for the viewers to go through after watching to ensure that they have understood the content
- If suitable links to learn more about the content and, if it’s a development workshop, link to the repository to download the code.
In order to monitor the success of the platform, we need to establish some metrics that we could track. Here are a few ideas:
- View counts for videos (this will be recorded automatically as it is)
- Number of discussion groups for each workshop
- Number of attendees at each discussion group (this can be gathered from a short survey sent to the leader after each group)
- Quality of the discussion in each group (data taken from the same survey)
- Speaker feedback tool data from each workshop
That last point will require that we get the speaker feedback tool setup on Learn WordPress – there is an open issue for this on GitHub.
Feedback and next steps
Thank you for reading this far! This post has been a lot to take in, but my hope is that this project will have a significant impact on the future of how people consume WordPress content. From here development will continue as outlined above with the goal of launching on 12 August.
It would be great to collect the thoughts of community organisers on the following topics (and more!):
- Is there anything in this post that you have questions about, or that you think could be better accomplished differently?
- Is there any part of this project that you would really like to be involved in? (Many of the areas mentioned above need someone to take a leadership role!)
+make.wordpress.org/training/ +make.wordpress.org/meta/ +make.wordpress.org/marketing/ +make.wordpress.org/tv/ +make.wordpress.org/polyglots/ +make.wordpress.org/updates/
Thanks to @rmarks, @bph, @nao and @andreamiddleton for their input with editing this post.