In 2016 I wanted to explore ways in which WordPress might serve as a viable option for ePortfolio work, as the University rolled out its own instance of the program. I envisioned being able to streamline the website creation process, so that faculty might pre-design the scaffold of showcase portfolios without having to walk students through page by page recreations of that structure. In coordination with my Graduate Assistant and later part-time Specialist, Dan Cox, we examined how such a program might be feasible. Dan’s extensive background in Computer Science and ITS allowed him to collaborate closely with ITS, writing code that created and over time refined a template program within the University’s WordPress.
As a result, we now offer to faculty and administrators the opportunity to collaborate with us on portfolio template design, creating templates with pre-built pages, instructors, and embedded tutorials. Once approved by those involved, we ask ITS to enter these sites as template into the system. Once this is done, when creating new WordPress sites, students are able to look for a particular template within a menu, select that template, and clone the original website. They are then able to edit that cloned site as needed, skipping the often arduous process of building the site structure. This initiative has been quite popular, with over 40 templates created in just two years. We are seeing increased interest in connection to programmatic portfolios and grants. Currently our team is also working with ITS to develop a process for allowing users, namely faculty, to later remove themselves from sites to which students have added them, thereby avoiding cluttering their WordPress management.
To see a demonstration of the activation process for one such grant, as narrated by Dan Cox, please watch the video below.