WordCamp and Education

WordCamp US is happening right now. This is one of the main events for the WordPress community, where we do the State of the Word address. Check out how a worldwide community of creatives comes together.



WordCamps are chock full of professional development and inspiration for project-based learning.


We livestream it for free.


After the event, all videos and slides go up on WordPress.tv.


This is a trove of learning, all for free. When we work and share in the open, we change life scripts.

The State of the Word for 2016 is coming up later today.


@charlie3 and @camworld, educators bringing open to schools, are both at WCUS. @camworld is speaking on WordPress for Schools.

I mention @camworld and the Newark school district here.


And, I mention @charlie3 and Penn Manor here.



Presentations of interest to education

I’ll update this as slides and videos are uploaded.

BuddyPress as the Foundation for Training, Distance Learning and Support for Business and Government

The Open Schoolhouse

Update: An updated version of this post is available on my main blog.

The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.

The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.

We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.

The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Source: Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

Charlie Reisinger (@charlie3), author of The Open Schoolhouse, is a good resource on open learning, service learning, 1:1 laptop programs, student help desks, school IT, and WordPress in education.In his school district, Penn Manor, student IT apprentices write code, write documentation, image laptops, and provide helpdesk support. Their code and docs are open source and available on GitHub.

Here are some videos on Penn Manor’s approach to the open schoolhouse.

Mr. Reisinger poses the vitally important question, “Which side of the command line should our kids be on?”

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education system designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom.

Source: How leveraging open source solutions helps give students in-demand skills | Opensource.com

Given unfettered permission to revise, remix, and redistribute curriculum material, teachers are trusted to become active agents in the creation of high-quality learning materials.

At Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Linux and open source software are the foundations for more than 4000 student laptops, classroom computers, and district servers. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by going open source in both the server room and the classroom.

To #GoOpenSource means more than simple cost savings for underfunded schools. Like openly-licensed education material, open source values invite collaborative and participatory learning. When a school culture honors learning by doing, students become active agents in their education, and they contribute to the school community in innovative new ways.

Source: Schools that #GoOpen should #GoOpenSource

Penn Manor open sources the work of its student IT apprentices. Their code and docs are available on GitHub.

For more on the open schoolhouse and open technology, see Communication Is Oxygen.

Here’s another handful of favorite quotes from the book.

Open-minded teachers like Christa gave our apprentices an opportunity to build self-esteem and leadership skills that would transfer to a myriad of careers, whether related to technology or not. Most compelling, I think, is that a whole new school culture emerged. The roles of student and teacher blurred. The classroom hierarchy flattened. We were becoming an open schoolhouse.

Project-based learning? Check. Everything the student apprentices created was part of an authentic technology project. Challenge-based learning? Absolutely. We had four months to do something the high school has never done. How about 20 percent time? Certainly. Innovation was encouraged 100 percent of the time. Hour of code? Plural. Our apprentices were about to log hundreds of hours of programming time. We had created a paradise for student hackers.

Without a course rubric, curriculum, or end-of-unit test, they created software destined to impact 1,725 of their peers, and eliminate hundreds of staff hours typically wasted on manually sorting and scheduling students into sessions.

What if our classrooms pushed aside lecture and standard curriculum, and reorganized as a community of practitioners working toward a common goal? What if every high school junior worked just like a journalist or technologist?

The flat-world technology revolution asks us to rethink our notion of what it means to be educated and literate in the 21st Century. However, one traditional skill remains unchanged: the ability to artfully and effectively self-express through writing. Blogs, reports, essays, and Tweets; writing across multiple modalities is learning made visual–and a full keyboard is still the most efficient tool to hone this skill.

Schools, it seems, are holding computer policies upside down. They shackle incredible, open-ended learning technology in digital chains. An air of distrust hangs over the device and the student. The practice cripples learning and students’ autonomy. Repressive computer device management policies crush learner agency and intellectual freedom.

What I love so much about open source philosophy, and what I strive to replicate on the help desk, is the participatory, inclusive environment where traditional power structures dissolve and students are empowered to act, contribute, express, learn, and think. Together as a team, students and staff shape the world around them. Once we stop treating students like data banks waiting for downloads, once we trust students as equal partners in their education, and once we empower students to contribute to their school community, the open schoolhouse emerges.

DSES Website

At the bottom of the This Week at DSE emails from DSES is this footer.

This is a reminder that DSES needs a website. AFAICT, This Week at DSE is delivered only via email. This misses a lot of people. All of the This Week at DSE emails should be on a website so that school messaging is transparent and accessible. With these posts published to the web, they can be auto publicized to social media, consumed by feed readers, and digested and newslettered however the user sees fit. The district website offers some space to DSES, but the district website is inaccessible cronyware that doesn’t afford DSES a blog, usable syndication feeds, or many of the amenities of a modern content management system.

I happen to know a bunch of open source geeks who like to give software, hosting, and labor away to good causes. Let’s bring “communication is oxygen” to DSISD one site at a time, starting with DSES. With WordPress (disclaimer, I work on WP for a living), sites can get a free and easy start on wordpress.com and later migrate to a self-hosted environment should the district graduate into student IT running a multisite WordPress instance integrated with district systems. Open technology that offers syndication feeds, content export, public apis, and open source community will grow with your school and district as we iterate toward project-based learning and collaboration in the commons.

To build a project-based learning culture compatible with work, prioritize communication. Tool for communication, collaboration, iteration, and launch. Bring students, teachers, and tech workers together to do_action education.