On and off for the past few weeks I have been looking into modernizing some of my websites with things like html5 and indieweb. The main goal of this experimentation was to improve the LINK Research Lab web presence by getting some WebMention magic going on our website. The bonus is that I experiment with some of these on my own website before moving them onto a real website for the LINK Lab. I had to make sure they didn’t blow things up, after all.
However, the problem with that is my website was running on a cobbled together WordPress theme that was barely holding together, and looking dated. I was looking for a nice theme to switch over to quickly, but not having much success. Then I remembered that Alan Levine had a sweet looking html5 theme (wp-dimension). One weekend I gave it whirl, and I think we have a winner.
The great thing about Cog Dog’s theme is that it has a simple initial interface for those that want to take a quick look at my work, but also has the ability to allow people to dig deeper into any topic they want to. I had to download and delete all of the blog posts that were already on my website, as the theme turns blog posts into the quick look posts on the front page. Those old posts were just feedwordpress copies of every post I wrote on this blog – so no need to worry about that. Overall, a great theme that is easy to use that I highly recommend for anyone wanting to create a professional website fast.
Much of my current desire to update websites came from reading Stephen Downes’ post on OwnYourGram – a service that let’s you export your Instagram files to your own website. To be honest, the IndieWeb part on the OwnHourGram website was just not working for me, until I found the actual IndieWeb plugins for WordPress. When in doubt, look for the plugins that already exist. I added those, and it all finally worked great. I found that the posts it imported didn’t work that well with many WordPress themes (Instagram posts don’t have titles, but many WordPress themes ignore posts without titles – or renders them strangely on the front page). So I still need to tinker with that.
The main part I became the most interested in was how IndieWeb features like WebMentions can help you connect with conversations about your content on other websites (and also social media). That will probably be the most interesting feature that I want to start using on this website and the LINK Lab website as well. So now that I have it figured out, time to get it set up before it all changes :) I’m just digging into this after being a fan from a far for a while, so let’s see what else is out there.
Matt is currently an Instructional Designer II at Orbis Education and a Part-Time Instructor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously he worked as a Learning Innovation Researcher with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His work focuses on learning theory, Heutagogy, and learner agency. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.