Developing a Learning Environment in WordPress

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Developing a Learning Environment in WordPress
A case study on replacing the medical program 1MedLearn in Blackboard with one built and delivered in WordPress using the H5P multimedia plugin. The developers found a measurable increase in student engagement when compared to the previous Blackboard site.

Already the data shows that student engagement has increased from 23,872 minutes spent in Blackboard by all students over a 12-month period (2013/14), to 921,752 minutes in 1MedLearn by the same year groups over 7 months (Sept 2015 – March 2016). This represents a 68 fold increase in usage. Yet the average time spent on the site has decreased from 22 minutes per session to 11 minutes indicating that students are able to find what they need far quicker.

The gains in student engagement are impressive, although it could be argued that some of those gains may be attributable to the program being redesigned and not just a change in platforms.

No secret that I am a fan of WordPress, so I am happy to see these types of projects succeed where WP is used to replace a LMS (especially an expensive, proprietary one). WordPress powers so much of the open web that a well designed WordPress site should feel much more intuitive and natural to a learner who is used to the way the web works.

The only thing about this case study that would make me happier is if it were actually an open course that took full advantage of the open affordances of WordPress. This is the biggest reason I promote the use of  WordPress (or any content management platform that allows publishing to the open web). WordPress opens a gate to the open web in a way that a closed LMS cannot and enables open and public participatory pedagogy. And I am a fan of any platform that enables institutional boundaries with the world to become more permeable.

First published in the EdTech Factotum newsletter.

Photo: Luca Bravo, Unsplash

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