CCK11: Connectivism in action?

The following is a lovely story of how one middle-aged woman learned enough about XHTML, CSS, and WordPress in eight weeks to build a website.

I have a client who wanted an email newsletter last spring; I investigated the possibilities, chose Constant Contact, and started sending monthly newsletters I’d research and write. Worked great. Easy software. Then my client asked, could you build just a little website, just a landing page, so we have a web presence? No problem. I know a little bit of HTML and, more importantly, know an easy software program (CoffeeCup) that would build a page.

This winter I was asked to do something much bigger. In my defense, I suggested at that point that they get an actual professional. But it was too late; they liked me. So I spent time trying to learn about the different content management systems (paid/unpaid) and tried Joomla for awhile; at the end of the year, I investigated WordPress (the .org version) and decided to learn it. The blog I have here for CCK2011 was my first use of the engine. And it’s great and quite intuitive. The .org version gave me fits, mostly because [tip coming!] Yahoo won’t support installing it at the root, so if you choose a funky theme with bells and whistles, it ain’t gonna work right. [Another tip: don’t pay for a theme design; get a free theme where you can pay to join the support community.]

I learned a lot, which is always fun for me even when it’s incredibly frustrating. I learned what plugins were, how to make menus, ways to upload images WordPress says are too big, and how to embed videos and podcasts (uh, plugins again!). At one point I tried something new and managed to shrink the whole front page down to a 10 x 10px square. That was cool. Then I messed with the PHP functions (bad idea) and wiped out the whole thing; I had to start over from that point, but I had sure learned not to do that again.

Over the last four weeks I have spent probably close to 100 hours on this project. But I suspect it would have been 100s more had it not been for the knowledge in the Web. I was able to post some questions on the support forum of the developer who created the theme I chose (Justin Tadlock,; awesome work). Justin answered some direct questions, and so did some other members of his community. What didn’t get answered there, I managed to find on or cobble together from a variety of sites that have free tutorials about XHTML/CSS/PHP and a whole lotta other stuff. Also, his code is commented all over the place, so I could follow along and consult tutorials about things I didn’t understand. Finally (way too) late last night, the one tiny detail I couldn’t figure out…I figured out (how to float that tube image). Eureka!

I consciously thought about connectivism as I did this because I do think that our new era requires this kind of traveling around the web to learn. That’s the part of the theory I’m definitely subscribing to. So I wondered about what I could do to sort of pass on my learning, put another path or at least a picnic bench up there. I’m doing that a bit here; but also as I got the answers I was looking for, I went back to Justin’s support forum and posted the answers to my own questions and the code I used.

“Programming is the new literacy of the digital age.”


6 Responses to CCK11: Connectivism in action?

  1. Inspiring post!

    Was looking at how much longer it will take me to finish the Certificate in Emerging Technologies to put on my resume and decided it was time for an interim plan that includes building a presence on the net. Something more than just the ready-made, something more personal, skillful and literate in the potential of what can be done on the net. Working on my blog seemed like a good start.

    Discussion space that isn’t Facebook here at an ongoing offshoot of the PLENK MOOC: . I drifted away from the site when other projects came up and plan to get back to it as a place to “be” a net person. Sounds wierd but being “online” isn’t enough. When I worked as a carpenter it was more than a trade or “living”, it only felt comfortable when I walked and talked as a carpenter. It wasn’t the whole of life and not a hobby either, maybe a dimension of self? Anyway, again, good post.


  2. LeahGrrl says:

    Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 I know what you mean about the certificate program–and there seems to be no opportunity to double up on classes. The next one (Mobile learning) is offered starting in May, but the only other two offered until next fall are both in-person (I emailed and asked). And I ain’t in Canada and am unlikely to spend the money to travel.

    The site looks interesting–tools is sort of like Ning, but it seems more robust. How active are the discussions? I keep trying to figure out how to carve out time to do a project on my own that shows more of what I *want* to do. That would address two things: a demonstration of skills that no one has paid me for (yet) coupled with what you talk about in terms of “being” a ______ person. I could at least say, “My project designing online learning is…..”

    Hang in there!

  3. Hi Leah – I’m a bit late here, but your concluding quote about programming as literacy for today is important. I’ve also heard it described as “programmers are today’s philosophers”. The language, logic, and process of programming is one that should be part of the k-12 system…and certainly central in grad studies…

    • leahgrrl says:

      Thanks, George, for stopping by. Have you heard of the Scratch program at MIT? That seems to be garnering attention for getting kids interested in programming. Not in Ohio, but that’s another story (says my stepdaughters, “We don’t need to know computers; we’re not geeks!”) I started with HyperCard. 🙂


  4. Pingback: #CCK11 A summary post of participation and engagement in CCK11 MOOC | Learner Weblog

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