A tool for digital literacy

Update: this tool was documented in an article currently “online first” in Educational Philosophy and Theory, and which I blogged about here.

I have made a very simple theme for the free and open-source Textpattern CMS, which can be found on github (link). Textpattern is designed for multiple users, so this will enable all groups to directly post their work to the site. A few images of the site can be seen on my github wiki. Addendum: the theme is now being used on this site.

It features a permanent search bar and categories list in the header, important and featured excerpts on the homepage, and interlinking articles on all subsequent pages. On article pages, articles are followed by the author – or group – name, key words, and related articles. The author’s name links to a page of all author-posted works. Here’s my github blurb:

Simple Texpattern CMS theme to interlink multiple-user content (articles) through key words, related articles, categories, the search function, and links to author pages listing authors’ articles. Designed to promote collaborative, project-based relational learning but could be used for IndieWeb selfdogfooding purposes.

I am not sure that students will like it. But that will be a feature of the courses. It is one thing to talk about digital design using distant examples and another to encourage dialogue about the very platform being used which, unlike moodle, is a ‘live’ site and has the potential to change – if I have the technical knowledge to make the change. And here I would like to say how much help I got in making even this simple theme from the Textpattern forum.

It will also be all right if students do not like it because the whole point was to build something that could be a starting point, a place that students will ideally make their own. Finished platforms like moodle do not afford this interaction – which is a failing if education is seen as a form of collaborative endeavor. While structure is needed for guidance, it also needs to have room to accommodate student vision.

My hope is that this tool will give students space for personal growth and to provide an online context inviting input on its further iterations, a space for (real!) online communication – including with our networked partners when the time comes, and also afford a level of privacy if they prefer to use nicknames so as to not broadcast their learning process to the internet – while being on it.

My earlier post on the thinking that went into why I wanted a CMS as part of my course design can be found here.

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