WPCampus Survey Results Indicate Misconceptions of WordPress Are Slowing its Growth in Higher Education

Before the first inaugural WPCampus took place last weekend, the organizing team conducted a survey to learn how WordPress is used in higher education. A total of 486 people responded to the survey. Modern Tribe has not only made the survey results available to the public, they have also published an in-depth review of the data.

There are a couple of items that stand out to me. Misconceptions that have plagued WordPress for years are affecting people’s decision to use it.

For instance, 18% of respondents said scalability is a barrier to being accepted at their school. Meanwhile, 37% of respondents said that WordPress’ reputation of being just a blogging platform hindered its ability to be the platform of choice.

The WordPress showcase is filled with sites both large and small that prove WordPress’ scalability. It’s also filled with sites that show WordPress is used for far more than blogging.

As WordPress continues to evolve from being a blogging platform to something capable of doing much more, it’s disappointing that this misconception still exists. Is there any hope that people can discover and realize that blogging is something WordPress is great at, but at its core, provides people the ability to go above and beyond?

Another fascinating part of the survey is the security aspect where 42% of respondents reported that they do not have a list of vetted plugins for their network. In addition, 13% of respondents said their networks are not running the latest version of WordPress.

How survey questions are asked can be the difference between receiving actionable or unusable data. ModernTribe acknowledges that the questions in future versions of the survey can be worded better to increase the accuracy of data.

If you take a look at the multi-part question we used to help qualify the institutions represented in the survey, you’ll that it could have been written much better. Since the main part of the question was mandatory, the survey also made the subsection where you could input your URL mandatory as well.

Other areas we can improve include better categorization for multiple-choice questions, including an option for ‘n/a’ or ‘I don’t know’ in more questions, and fewer write-in responses.

If you’re interested in reviewing the survey results, you can access them via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.

For those that didn’t get a chance to attend WPCampus in person or watch it live, I highly encourage you to read this review from David Bisset, who has organized a number of large WordPress conferences. There’s also this review by Josh Pollock of CalderaWP. Last but not least, Adam Warner shares his experience on the SiteLock blog.

What do you think of the WPCampus survey results? Is there any data that surprises you? Let us know in the comments.

9 Comments


  1. Thanks for the great follow up, Jeff. Anyone in higher ed doesn’t need a survey to tell you that the 2 biggest hindrances for WordPress in higher ed are security and scalability. I’m going to talk to the WPCampus community about brainstorming a few ways to help ease institutions away from these common misconceptions.

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  2. Jeff, I think the link to WPCampus in this article is wrong (but correct actually). It is going through Google search, instead of direct link. Just saying.

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  3. It’s true it’s disappointing to find those common misconceptions are there.

    But it’s even more true education is sometimes -yes, sadly- a really firm structure against changes. Just an example: imagine a Ph.D. thesis talking about using WordPress.com in education with lots of examples, work field, and even a stunning online site to be reused by other teachers. You should constraint that to a printed old-fashioned impossible-to-read book-like thesis. :)

    (I remember a nice post from A. Spittle related to that: http://andrewspittle.com/2009/11/22/my-case-for-moving-beyond-a-printed-senior-thesis/)

    A huge methodology and conceptual change must take place in the educational world, involving learning communities, horizontalization, and openness to support efforts like the introduction of WordPress.

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  4. The results are pretty informative. Many of the respondents to Question 9 are using Multisite.

    I wish I could be there. Sadly their live stream required MIcrosoft Siliverlight to watch. Which I just won’t bother to install.

    If organizers from WPCampus reads this. Please don’t DRM a live stream when it’s not necessary I’m sure it hindered your viewership of the event.

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    1. Hi Joseph! We understand Silverlight was a little frustrating but as the livestream was provided by the university, this requirement was out of WPCampus’s control. Thankfully, only 1 of the 3 session streams required Silverlight so it wasn’t too big of an issue. Also, all session recordings will be archived on the WPCampus website in the near future so, if you missed any presentations via the stream, you’ll be able to check them out soon. Thanks for your feedback!

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      1. Awesome thanks. I appreciate the reply.

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  5. Thanks for the great summary, Jeff! I couldn’t make WPCampus this year and barely got a chance to snoop on a few live stream presentations. A nice reminder for sessions I missed!

    As one of those respondents who’s been running WordPress in higher education for over a decade, I wasn’t too surprised by the results. Higher education is definitely it’s own market ecosystem, so it sadly requires that sort of hand-holding extra attention. A kinda weird idea in relation to the mission of eduction itself. I actually see it as bit of an improvement from where I started. Enterprise in higher ed was so “Enterprise” that PHP was considered a poor choice, but now more open source projects are considered appropriate common solutions.

    Pain in the arse to make time to stay involved these days, but I’ll be talking about using WordPress for over 10 years in higher eduction at WordCamp New Orleans on August 13, 2016 https://2016.nola.wordcamp.org.

    I hope WPCampus builds on this success and hopefully I can attend next year!

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