Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/25/11

Last night was the second of three Blogging Best Practices classes I’m teaching for the J-School. You can read my recap of the first class as a primer. Eight of the nine registered students showed up, and one of the Entrepreneurial Journalism students joined us. Overall, I’d give execution a “good.” We covered a fair bit of material but, as survey responses attest, the students are ready to move from theoretical to practical. We also ran out of time in a serious way. Recapping thoughts on the session, then class notes at the end. Continue reading “Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/25/11”

Workshop: Website hack session, 4/20/11

It’s the middle of spring break, so only one student showed up at my office hours/workshop this evening. We started around 4:40 pm and ended an hour later. Specifically, we:

  • Reviewed how to change directories in the terminal and update her theme from the main Git repository.
  • Increased the number of images appearing on the homepage of her website. This also involved the Git workflow of committing her changes and pushing them to the origin repository.
  • Hid a couple of elements using CSS. She has a good grasp of how to do basic CSS.
  • Enabled the “ShareThis” plugin on single posts with the Twitter and Facebook buttons.

The project site is functionally complete. She wants to update the photo content before promoting it.

Her next big project is to convert the portfolio website mockups she’s done into a WordPress theme. I told her to read through the WordPress.org documentation as much as she can, and try to outline all of the files she might need. Content first, then markup, then polishing it with CSS. I think I’ll put together a workshop next week on building or modifying WordPress themes and promote it heavily.

Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/11/11

Better way late than never on this one, I suppose. Monday night was the first of three editions for Blogging Best Practices. All nine students showed up. It went surprisingly well, especially considering I had only a nebulous idea of what I wanted to teach on Friday and 45 minutes to prepare the actual lesson before class. I suspect it illustrates the importance of knowing your material. Monday’s busyness continued through the week, but I’d like to nail down a few thoughts while they’re still lukewarm in my memory. The class notes are at the end of the post.

Continue reading “Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/11/11”

Workshop: Website hack session, 4/14/11

To accommodate Entrepreneurial Journalism students, I moved my office hours to Thursday this week. It was scheduled for 5 pm, but no one showed up until 5:30 pm. This was a problem, as there was a rush at the end when I had to leave at 6:30 pm.¬†Overall, three students¬†showed up of the five expected. Continue reading “Workshop: Website hack session, 4/14/11”

Idea: More effective office hours

On Thursday, I want to try this out: students teaching one another. When everyone shows up, I’ll have them list the things they need to cover on the whiteboard. If I think one student can help with another student’s question, I’ll ask them to work with that other student. We’ll see how well it works.

What should I teach for Blogging Best Practices?

For the next three of four Monday evenings, I’m teaching Blogging Best Practices as a part of the continuing education series produced by the J-School and Baruch College. The total class time is six hours. Here’s its description:

Anyone can create a blog, but what does it mean to blog well? This course will teach you how to set up and design your blog, how to get traffic, how to handle conversations, and how to make money.

Useful, right? The short of it: I have plenty of fodder for what I can teach, everything from the ethic of the link to basic HTML/CSS for formatting, but what I should teach is the more important question.

What’s one thing about blogging you’ve learned and can teach? Or, what’s one thing you still want to learn? Topics, teaching strategies and exercise ideas greatly appreciated.

Workshop: Website hack session, 3/30/11

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.

Workshop: Working with HTML/CSS, 3/23/11

Last night between 5:30 and 7, we did another HTML/CSS workshop at the J-School. Twelve people showed up, which was much better than the six or so we expected. The participants were mostly from Interactive 2 although there were a few from other programs who had never touched CSS. Overall, I think the workshop went quite well even though I don’t feel we hit our stated goals and deviated a lot from the written agenda. I’ll review the process and the session notes are at the bottom. Continue reading “Workshop: Working with HTML/CSS, 3/23/11”

Class: Entrepreneurial Journalism Technology Immersion, 3/21/11

From 6 to 7 pm this evening, I joined Selcen Onsan’s Tech Immersion class as a guest speaker. Tech Immersion is one of the five Entrepreneurial Journalism courses this spring. I want to write down a few thoughts on the session as a way of starting to iterate (and hopefully improve) my teaching methods. The notes we collaboratively generated on a Google Doc are at the bottom. Continue reading “Class: Entrepreneurial Journalism Technology Immersion, 3/21/11”