So the WPETG team have been on the road (or more strictly speaking, in the air!). WordCamp Europe 2023 took place in bustling Athens, Greece – so we jumped at the chance to connect, learn and collaborate. After so much disruption through the COVID pandemic, it was finally a great opportunity
Naturally the WordPress ecosystem is very broad, so the events covered everything from code development, content management, ecommerce, infrastructure, accessibility and beyond.
While there was little specifically for the education and training area, there were plenty of interesting talks from which insights could be applied.
Oliver Sild led an insightful talk on the ‘State of WordPress Security’. The safety of user data can often be a major concern for clients and organisations considering WordPress as an educational tool, so it was encouraging to hear that the WordPress ecosystem is more secure than it ever has been.
According to Sild, 99.7% of vulnerabilities are in plugins and themes, which suggests WordPress administrators should continue to be very careful with the tools they use alongside the core platform. He also advised to be mindful of removed plugins that continue to leave a footprint in the platform.
The suitability of WordPress from an enterprise perspective was also the focus of a fireside chat on day 2. Generally, it was felt that there was a poor perception of WordPress within enterprise, but that didn’t reflect reality.
The WordPress ecosystem is big enough to support different use cases – both consumer and enterprise, but we – as a WordPress collective – can do more to shout about our success stories and show that WordPress can be scalable, secure and feature-rich, and therefore very suitable for the enterprise market.
This is an ongoing challenge in the educational and training space (and something we naturally try to change perceptions of). There are many other incumbents in this space, both open-source and proprietary, and WordPress stacks up well against them. We can help this by steering the conversation to business/organisation outcomes first and steering the conversation from there.
Laura Elizabeth from Client Portal spoke about the onboarding process for freelancers. She talked about the need to build relationships (at scale) and that creating a positive experience was key to ongoing success.
This important aspect can be forgotten when creating educational experiences online. There can be a tendency to make the enrollment process easy, but assume when someone has access to course materials that they have the energy and know-how to progress without support. It’s worth considering the educational experience post-enrollment and seeing what approaches can help people move forwards (e.g. automated nudge emails or regular check-ins with a course leader).
AI and the MetaVerse
Naturally there was plenty of talk about AI as the zeitgeist topic of the moment. There was plenty of excitement, but we were surprised at how little was still visible on this and how we didn’t see any tangible (and valuable) use cases in action.
It feels like many products are still working through their plans for AI and shoehorning these in to grab the AI marketing opportunities (we’re looking at you LearnDash). We suspect in a year’s time, when WordCamp Europe hits Turin, that there’ll be many more talks about AI with practical use cases.
Javier Salinas led a great talk showing how the Metaverse can be integrated with WordPress. We were surprised at how simple this can be to set up, using a tool called A-Frame. A-Frame is an open-source web framework that can be used for building virtual reality (VR) experiences.
Javier admitted that at this point in time the Metaverse is nothing but a marketing campaign, but that he sees a future in this. It will be interesting to see if will have practical benefits in the online learning space. Virtual reality has been used to some degree of success in the past but has been cost-prohibitive and lacking in widescale adoption.
Will Metaverse make this more accessible?
The WordCamp Experience
This was the team’s first international WordCamp and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was much larger than we expected, with plenty of North American participants in attendance. It felt friendly, collaborative and informal – which is quite different to some (non-WordPress) events we’ve been to previously. Credit must be given to the volunteers and organising team to make it such a fantastic experience.
It was great to see representatives from LearnDash (Stellar WP), Lifter LMS, Wisdm Labs and Uncanny Owl all present. Maybe next year we’ll see a talk specifically for the education/training space? 😉