Workshop: Website hack session, 3/30/11

If you like my WordPress work, check out my new plugin, Bylines. Thanks!

Only three people showed up, so it ended up being more like office hours than anything else. It was a productive use of my time, although I need to solve the problem of one teacher to N studens with individual needs. I wish students were more receptive to the idea of teaching one another and wonder whether a digital tool would more effectively route those connections. There was definitely a usable gradient of skill sets.

One of the Entrepreneurial Journalism students is moving her project site from Tumblr to WordPress to take advantage of custom taxonomies. I showed her the PHP to register one. She followed my lead by copy and pasting to register the other two. No errors at all, though that would’ve been a good teachable moment. We also talked about template tags. She correctly surmised she needs to replace the existing category and tag snippets on her single.php file with the new custom taxonomy snippets. Lastly, we walked through adding a tag cloud to the sidebar and changing it to use one of the custom taxonomies.

Question: How many times does a person need to review a topic in order to fully grok it?

Another student is in child theme territory for her photo side project. We’re modifying the Fullscreen theme from Graph Paper Press to handle (hopefully) thousands of images on the homepage. Tonight we covered child theme structure, WP_DEBUG, and the HTML, CSS and modifying PHP function arguments of displaying the homepage. We’re just getting started and she wants to have it live by the beginning of New York spring break. Effective project management should be a required course for everyone at the school.

The last student had a few minor questions. These included how to remove an extra menu item that had shown up, modifying the padding and margin of div’s using CSS, and modifying the width of subnav items using CSS. Two more required courses: troubleshooting and accurately stating the nature of your problem.

Again, overall, it was a pretty productive time. I think I’ll continue hosting these on a weekly basis as long as students continue to show up.