Wooster has recently gotten some notice for what Instructional Technology has been doing with the Voices blogging service. We are one of the first schools to begin making use of the new BuddyPress extension and specifically to make use of its group functionality. This semester we have a few professors making use of this new feature. Each is using it in a slightly different way, which is one of the great benefits of the WordPress platform.
Professor Hayward in English has established a main course blog which used BuddyPress groups and the Group Blog plugin to add all of her students as authors. She then has requested each of her students to maintain personal blogs and is using the FeedWordPress plugin to pull all of the posts from their individual blogs into the class blog. In addition students can also write posts on the main class blog. Her students are required to provide feedback on at least three of their classmates posts each week and having everything aggregated on the main course blog makes it very easy for the students to find each other’s work.
Professors Pollock and Wingard in Geology and English respectively are having all of their students blog on the main class blog and again used the Groups feature to create and add their students to the blog. Dr. Wingard is experimenting with having her blogs be private initially and then later opening them up so that outside reading and commenting will be possible. In contrast, Dr. Pollock has made her blog open to the public and as a result her students made connect with students at the University of Mary Washington who are also studying natural disasters.
Since its relaunch on August 24th 2009, the Voices service has had almost 32,000 visits from over 120 different countries or territories generating over 100,000 pageviews. Not bad for a service that has not really been advertised to the outside world and which has been used for only a few classes as we ramp up support. We hope to build on this in the coming years and to continue to be a leader in the use of WordPress in education.