At the contributor day event for WordCamp San Francisco 2013, breakout sessions were created to explore ideas on the best ways to teach people how to work with WordPress themes. One of the ideas being pursued are lesson modules. The modules explain all the aspects of developing, editing, and learning about themes.
Despite a lot of excitement and interest at the beginning of the project, most of the work has been completed by Tracy Levesque and Courtney O’Callaghan. Shortly after contributor day, the two were given their own site as a sub-group of the WordPress Community group.
The proposed curriculum covers everything from explaining what a theme is, to creating and altering child themes. The basic layout of each module contains:
- a short intro in what you will learn (written or video)
- voice over screencast walk through (user could follow along if they wanted to)
- 2-3 practice examples
- self quiz for each topic
Results Of Using The Module For The First Time
The Child Theme module is the first to be nearly completed. The module is structured in such a way that it’s like a lesson planner for school. I used it to teach 20 members of our local WordPress meetup why it’s important to use child themes. I read the module text and performed the exercises while everyone in the room watched the projector. It wasn’t until we reached the point where attendees could see the child theme manipulating the parent theme, when they finally understood the concept.
After the lesson, I asked the audience what they thought about the course material. Several of them said it was great, but many told me they wouldn’t have understood the relationship between the parent and child theme without being able to visually make the connection. In general, they understood the child theme concept and why it’s not a good idea to make changes to just the parent theme.
WordPress.org Vetted Training Material
If the training module concept takes off, it could open up a new set of opportunities for those looking to contribute to WordPress. Those who want to teach WordPress would be able to use the vetted material on WordPress.org instead of paying for it or directing students to videos and tutorials on the web. By stringing modules together, you’d be able to have detailed lessons and classes on different subjects. Users could openly learn together or from each other.
Even though work is ongoing for the WordPress theme developer handbook, it’s not meant to be used in a classroom environment. Modules are meant to be used to teach in a live situation while the handbooks are more like a detailed reference guide.
How You Can Get Involved
The team meets up every Tuesday at 18:00 UTC on IRC within the #wordpress-getinvolved channel. Problems, agenda, and course material are some of the items discussed on a weekly basis. If you’re interested in teaching people how to do things with WordPress, the team wants to hear from you!