This past weekend inspired me to make a post after another long period of silence, so I’m back for a moment to share my thoughts on a class I had the pleasure of teaching at WordCamp Phoenix.
I’ve mentioned WordCamp briefly before, but I don’t know that I’ve truly explained what they are, so here is an excerpt from the WordCamp site to give you an idea on what the heck I’m talking about.
So what is a WordCamp? WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress, the free and open source personal publishing software that powers over 25 million sites on the web. WordCamps come in all different flavors, based on the local communities that produce them, but in general, WordCamps include sessions on how to use WordPress more effectively, beginning plugin and theme development, advanced techniques, security, etc. (source: http://central.wordcamp.org/about )
So now that you know that much, here we go:
Over the past two years, I have attended 12 different WordCamps. I originally went to them to support my husband Shayne because he was presenting at them. After 2-3 of them, I kinda fell in love with the people and the absolute passion behind the WordPress community. Good people, brilliant minds and good times. I began to learn more and more about WordPress, blogging and started to feel a little like a loyal part of the WordPress family.
So, fast forward to a couple of months ago when Amanda Blum–WordCamp organizer extraordinaire–contacted me about doing a presentation of my own at WordCamp Phoenix. She asked if I would be interesting in teaching a WordPress for Kids class. I was momentarily stunned, but she she explained it something like this, “A) You’ve been to more WordCamps than just about anyone. B) You homeschool your children and can totally handle a room full of kids eager to learn. C) You know WordPress and you’ll be at WordCamp Phoenix anyway (Shayne was scheduled to speak at this one already).” Amanda can be very convincing, so within a matter of minutes, I committed to teaching the class.
Fast forward again to this past weekend. Shayne and I headed out to Phoenix on Thursday. He taught a 7-hour WordPress for Beginners class on Friday. Saturday was packed full of sessions on all levels and the brainpower in the building was pretty incredible. Sunday was WordPress for Kids in the morning followed by Dev/Hack day for developers & contributors. As Sunday inched closer, my nerves kicked in. See, I’ve got a history of being super shy and a huge tendency to blush, stutter and just generally feel like a fool speaking in front of people. It’s just never been my thing. However, after 2 years of observing how WordPress, being Open Source software, has become and continues to evolve into an incredible thing because of people contributing their knowledge, I realized it was time for me to buck up and get more directly involved in the WP community.
My class was held at a really, really cool co-working space in Chander, AZ (an amazing city that supported WordCamp beyond all expectations. Very impressive city.) called Gangplank. I arrived that morning (with Shayne by my side for moral and technical support, of course) and watched the kiddos come piling in loaded with notebooks, laptops, iPads and beautiful, eager minds. I’ll admit that it was intimidating for a brief moment, but I went around to meet them as they came in and their blend of shyness, curiosity and excitement got me going. I simply walked them through setting up a blog on WordPress.com. Baby steps. Nothing extraordinary on my end, but I got so excited to be a part of introducing these children to blogging and creating their own sites. That’s big to me. Exposing them to the world of WordPress might just change what career path they take one day. Maybe they’ll even end up being part of the team at Automattic one day! These little ones we’re raising are the future of our internet experience, so getting them inspired early could lead to beautiful things.
Since this was the first WordCamp session targeted at children, deciding on the best way to present to a group of varying ages and WordPress experience was a bit difficult. Now that I have that the session under my belt, I have a few ideas on how to better accommodate each child and help them get the most out of the class. If the opportunity arises for me to teach the class again, I look forward to trying a slightly different approach. In the meantime, I hope that the idea of having a WordPress for Kids class spreads like wildfire through the different WordCamps.