Neufeld and Stephens chat with Kyle Jones, the co-author along with Polly-Alida Farrington of the latest issue of Library Technology Reports titled, “Using WordPress as a Library Content Management System.” You can access a free chapter of LTR here and purchase a print or e-book copy at the ALA Store.
Kyle Jones: Do you find that creating a virtual learning community much more feasible now, with today’s technical tools like WordPress, than it was several years ago?
Kenley Neufeld: We’ve reached a point of critical mass. The tools and software available are pretty ubiquitous. If you think about WordPress, anybody can get a WordPress site up and running even if they are not fully aware that’s what they are doing. It’s moved outside just the fringe and more into the mainstream. This makes it easier for people to step into it. If I use the word “WordPress” in public, some might actually know what that is or if I just mention “blog” then they most likely will understand. Whereas a decade ago if I had said a MOO, I’d have to spend 10-minutes explaining it and even then they might not get it. Part of this has to do with the change in the Internet landscape. A decade ago it wasn’t small, but the Internet has become pretty much present in everybody’s lives today. Everyone seems to be engaged with it on some level. That alone is going to shift the tool mechanisms to facilitate learning environments. Blackboard was really the only player on the market a decade ago.
Michael Stephens: I’m reminded of the years I spent doing tech training at the public library and then taking over the training and development department. Between 1996-2003, we really struggled to design an intranet which now all you need is a blog behind a firewall and you suddenly have an intranet. It amazes me how easy this stuff is now. Because the technology got easier and more popular, everyday folks now understand “we’re running this on WordPress or Drupal or Blogger” – that’s been one of the most exciting things about this. And this is why we should be doing these things in library school, and in the university, these are the tools of the moment. In three or four years we might be talking about something else. But the ideas and motivations remain the same.