WordPress in Education Showcase 2024: NextGen Recap

The ‘WordPress in Education Showcase,’ held at Masaka Social Center on April 6, 2024, was a landmark event, marking the first NextGen WordPress event in Uganda and Africa. This pioneering event celebrated the innovative integration of WordPress into Uganda’s educational frameworks, attracting close to 100 participants, including students, educators, and technology enthusiasts from various backgrounds.

The day was structured around interactive sessions such as a beginner’s workshop on WordPress and a panel discussion featuring seasoned educators discussing the integration of technology in teaching-learning environments. These sessions provided insights into effective teaching methodologies and digital tool utilization, enriching the attendees’ educational strategies.

The event began with a session where participants shared their WordPress experiences. This not only fostered a sense of community but also highlighted the platform’s accessibility, with over 60% of attendees interacting with WordPress for the first time. Seasoned users shared insights, offering inspiration and practical advice to newcomers.

Rogers Mukalele conducted an interactive educational quiz on the basics of web design and the functionality of the World Wide Web. This quiz served as a fun icebreaker and an effective learning tool, reinforcing key concepts and fostering a collaborative learning environment.

Stephen Dumba then led a hands-on workshop, guiding beginners through the process of building a four-page website using WordPress. He demonstrated practical skills such as theme and plugin installation, page and post creation, and menu setup. The workshop emphasized using the Gutenberg editor for content editing and showcased how to incorporate additional features like contact forms.

I really enjoyed the ‘WordPress in Education Showcase.’ It showed me how useful WordPress can be. As I start my Animal Husbandry course, I’m excited to use WordPress to share what I learn and also teach it to others. This way, I can spread knowledge far and wide.Anitah Nantale Ndawula

From left to right are Anitah Nantale Ndawula, Atuhairwe Natasha and Hope Nabateregga

In parallel, Rogers offered a video demonstration tackling a sample ICT exam question by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) on website design. He meticulously outlined the steps involved in installing XAMPP for local hosting, deploying WordPress, and finalizing a website migration to online servers. This session was invaluable for visual learners and underscored the practical applications of the skills being taught.

The event also featured an exhibition area where sponsors, including Automattic (WordPress.com), displayed their products and services. These sponsor tables provided participants with networking opportunities and the chance to learn about new tools and resources available in the WordPress ecosystem.

A panel discussion followed, featuring Ugandan ICT teachers exploring the evolution of web authoring tools and their implications for education. The discussion highlighted the shift from traditional software like Expression Web to more versatile platforms like WordPress, which offers extensive customization options and a supportive community.

Project showcases were a highlight, featuring impactful contributions from St. Edwards Secondary School Bukuumi and Ezone School of Computing. The projects tackled various community and educational challenges:

  1. Environmental Conservation Awareness by Group 1 from St. Edwards Secondary School Bukuumi: This project focused on raising environmental conservation awareness both within and outside the school community. The developed website boasts a clean design and user-friendly interface, utilizing WordPress plugins like Elementor for page building, WP Download Manager for downloadable content, and WooCommerce for fundraising. It also integrates social media plugins for better community engagement and includes a contact form for feedback and newsletter sign-ups.
  2. Learn Hub by Group 2 from Ezone School of Computing, presented by Atuhairwe Natasha and her team, is an e-learning platform designed to enrich the educational experience with integrated videos and direct communication channels with teachers. The LearnPress plugin manages and delivers content-rich courses, highlighting WordPress’s flexibility in creating dynamic educational environments.
  3. Find School by Group 3 from Ezone School of Computing serves as a comprehensive directory to assist parents and prospective students in finding schools that meet their specific needs. It utilizes custom post types and the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to accurately manage and present data submitted by school owners.

The panel of advisors evaluated the projects based on several criteria including innovation, technical execution, usability, accessibility, and impact. Feedback focused on the effective use of WordPress features, the design and security of the sites, and the clarity of the presentations. Suggestions were made for each group on how to improve their projects further, such as enhancing mobile responsiveness, considering offline capabilities for areas with limited internet access, and expanding their project models for sustainability.

The showcase concluded with an award ceremony where points were tallied and outstanding projects announced. Group 3 emerged as the overall winner with 87 points, closely followed by Group 1 and Group 2. All participating groups received certificates, web hosting space from Kasirye Labs and Cursor Web Host, and licenses for Elementor from Sharebility Web Services to encourage continued project development. Group 1 from St. Edward’s Secondary School Bukuumi was selected for a three-month mentorship program led by Ssebuwufu Moses to enhance their project to meet standards. The program began on April 18, 2024, via Google Meet.

The upcoming Uganda Website Projects Competition 2024, a dynamic Next Gen event where students will showcase their innovative WordPress–powered projects under two categories: Rising Stars category (for Primary and Secondary Schools) and Explorers category (for Post-Secondary vocational schools, technical training institutes, universities, and colleges) to be held on July 5th, 2024 at the National ICT Innovation Hub, Nakawawas announced and encouraged diverse communities to participate. The importance of using WordPress to not only solve real-world problems but also to enhance learning and community engagement was highly emphasized.

One of our promotional methods used for the WordPress in Education Showcase was through Radio adverts, social media posts, and ICT Teachers Association platforms. The Radio adverts approach was selected to align with the ethos of NextGen, which promotes innovative event formats and outreach efforts among the local WordPress community.

The event wrapped up with group photos, interviews, and informal networking among participants, advisors, and organizers. This provided a valuable opportunity for further discussion and collaboration. Feedback collected through post-event surveys indicated a highly successful event, though there was a noted desire for more beginner-level content. In response, plans are in place to include more foundational workshops in future events to better accommodate newcomers to WordPress.

The WordPress in Education Showcase was a notable success but faced several logistical challenges. Initially, five schools were confirmed to showcase with six groups expected; however, only two schools and three groups ultimately participated. A significant issue was the overbooking of tickets; spots reserved for no-shows prevented other interested individuals from participating, as the event was capped at 100 attendees from the outset. Notably, two sister schools attempted to register 240 students after tickets were sold out, but they would have faced the same issue even if they had shown interest earlier due to the fixed attendee limit.

These challenges underscored a broader demand for WordPress workshops, especially in secondary schools. We are exploring solutions utilizing school computer labs for hands-on workshops, to better accommodate future events such as meetups and enrich the educational experience. Additionally, the idea of hosting decentralized events at schools is gaining traction as a means to manage attendance and logistical concerns more effectively

Moving forward, despite these challenges, we’re committed to providing enriching experiences for our community. We invite you to join us for WordCamp 2024 in Uganda, where we’ll continue to explore the boundless potential of WordPress. Scheduled for September 5th and 6th 2024 at The Innovation Village in Jinja, it promises to be an inspiring event. Attendee and sponsorship tickets are available now. For further details and registration, please visit https://jinja.wordcamp.org/2024/.

Thank you to our sponsors and everyone who played a part in making the WordPress in Education Showcase a resounding success. Your contributions are deeply appreciated, and we look forward to continuing our journey together towards a more vibrant and inclusive WordPress ecosystem.

You Might Also Like