Outreachy week 3: Down the Questions Path

The last week we continued with 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. Organizer Handbook-based questions: the second half of the question pool was composed, reviewed and corrected by @andreamiddleton and moved to the testing site we’re working on for now.

This actually raised a couple of questions on the quiz settings:

  1. What should be the passmark percentage for the quizzes included in the course?
  2. Should a learner be able to see which questions she answered incorrectly?
  3. Should a learner be given any further specific feedback based on the option she chose?

For question #1 it was decided the passing rate for all of the quizzes would be 100% because it’s really important that deputies/WordCamp & 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 have mastery over program materials. That might force the learner to read the lesson not once, but twice – but that way we will be sure the most important points were all covered and hopefully understood.

If some of the questions from the set are answered incorrectly, we will ask a learner to retake the quiz. Given that, I thought we should really make sure that it is clear for the learner in this case which of the questions are answered incorrectly (then she can read the lesson again paying attention to the details related to this question).  I recently had to pass a quiz myself where only the percentage of correct answers were shown, which made it hard to understand what was correct or not. It even involved some combinatorics. 🙂 The 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 we use, Sensei, unfortunately, does not allow retaking quizzes and displaying the questions answered incorrectly at the same time, so @hlashbrooke helped to add some custom functionality here. At the moment, the answer notes is pretty rough and displays overlapping text, but that’s something that we are going to remedy once we have all the content in place.

Regarding question #3, we toyed with the idea of having specific feedback to the questions options: i.e. when a learner selects a correct option there is something like “This is correct. <A rephrasing of the correct answer>”, and if not “No, this is not correct. <Explanation why not>”. The advantage of having feedback is that learner would get to understand better why they are wrong immediately, and not feel confused. There are also disadvantages: they won’t be likely to go and reread the text to try to understand why they are wrong, which may limit the understanding. And it actually turned out that with Sensei it’s only possible at the moment to have one feedback item shown no matter what the chosen option is. That lead us to leave feedback-related plans for now.

All in all, I think it’s a really nice compromise between keeping the main idea of what was originally planned and adjusting it to the way the e-learning plugin we use actually can do things.

Next week I’ll be working with @chanthaboune based on the new content added to the Meetup organizer handbook. The flow will be similar to the way the other two were/are being handled:

  • Create an outline based on the way materials will be organized
  • Move the handbook content to Sensei
  • Start creating questions

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

Outreachy week 2: Questions and questions

Which of the following was my main activity during the week 2 of Outreachy program?
A. Composing the outlines for the trainings 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 WordPress Deputies
B. Creating quiz questions for WordCamp Organizers training
C. Chilling at the beach and eating strawberries

And the correct answer is B! (You could probably tell. And we don’t even have a beach where I live.)

You may remember in my last post I mentioned I like writing questions for quizzes quite a lot. Here are some of the rules I use when composing them. But first, let’s mention the anatomy of the question.

When does it make sense to book an unusual venue for your WordCamp, such as a public aquarium? (question stem)
A. You want your WordCamp’s “underwater” theme to be truly memorable for the participants. (distractor)
B. Your connections through the 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. allow you to get the venue for free. (correct answer)
C. No other WordCamp has been held in an aquarium — you’ll make history! (distractor)
D. It is the only one that is available for the date you have in mind. (distractor)

Starting with the rules relating to the question stem:

  • Focus the questions solely on the material covered in the course. The goal here is to help the learners retain key material and assess how well they master it, not to make them feel stupid or trick them.
  • Try to keep the wording clean and simple. It’s annoying to have to read the question several times only to understand what’s being asked.
  • Follow the learning objective with your questions. It’s important to ask that people remember the exact answer only for the questions they absolutely need to know it according to the goal we have in the corresponding lesson. Otherwise, it’s better when they are encouraged to think.

Now, let’s discuss writing distractors:

  • Try to keep the options about the same length, or at least do not let the correct answer to be the only “long” option
  • Avoid ‘all of the above’ and ‘none of the above’. That can be really confusing, especially if the system you use will shuffle the options. If a question that has multiple correct answers is required, a multiple-response question is a better option.
  • The distractors must be plausible. If a learner can choose the correct answer right away just because none of the other options make any sense, that will not help the learning process much.

Some of these rules are harder to follow than others, but it’s important to try 🙂 You can take a look at the questions I have written so far here.

Next week I’ll be finalizing quiz questions for WordCamp Organizers training and transferring all of the content to the testing site we’re working on for now.

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

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

Outreachy update

The summer term of Outreachy has begun, and I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be working with Elena Petrashen (@epetrashen) through August 23, 2016! Elena will bring her professional experience with instructional design to a learning-related project for the Community team that I’m pretty excited about.

The Project: Community Organizer Self-Training

Participation in WordPress community organizing efforts continues to grow, which is amazing and wonderful and everything we want. That said, helping new volunteer organizers learn our methods is incredibly time-consuming. We can just keep telling people “read the handbook” over and over, but just because someone reads some documentation doesn’t ensure they 1) understood everything, and 2) know the parts that are really important to the program.

So Elena’s going to work with me on designing three self-training courses based on our handbooks: one for 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 (I promise we’ll have some material in that meetup organizer handbook in a week or so)! The courses will be self-serve and will include quizzes, so people can test their understanding of the materials. There won’t be a certificate at the end — just the confidence that you’ve attained mastery over our team’s community organizing knowledge base. I’m kind of incredibly excited about this; it might be the key to helping a bunch more people feel confident in their organizing work. 🙂

Elena will be posting weekly updates on Tuesdays. Please join me in giving her a warm WordPress welcome!

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

Outreachy Interns

I mentioned this a while ago when I signed us up, but our page for participating in Outreachy is officially up: https://codex.wordpress.org/Outreachy_2016

Since I, Josepha, Andrea, Rocío, Cami, Ian, and Konstantin will all be at our team 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. this week, I put in the page that we won’t start our application Q&As until next week, so if anyone pops up on SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. asking about it, you can remind them of that. We’ll post the chat times on the codex page later this week.

#diversity-programs, #internships, #mentorship, #outreachy