Crowdsourcing a Student WordPress Resources Section

Debra L. Beck    February 16, 2015

Organization name: University of Waterloo, Center for Extended Learning


Industry: Education, Professional Development

Name of contact: Peter Carr, PhD, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance


Web references: Social Media for Business Performance

Using Crowdsourcing to Develop a Student Resources Application

WordPress is a relatively easy program to use. However, for novice users who are not widely computer experienced, and not digital natives, producing a WordPress blog post on the fly can be challenging.

The University of Waterloo’s Social Media for Business Performance course is an 8-week certificate-earning course that allows individuals to gain a broad understanding of the use of social media today as it pertains to employee involvement, consumer engagement, product design, etc. Participants are not screened and come from various disciplines, although most are experienced professionals and some are marketing people either in charge of their organization’s social media program, or hope to be promoted to such.

The assignments for the course are to write case studies on social media uses based on course teachings and readings. Students are sent roving the Internet to find prime examples of how business are upping their game using social media. They also have to promote their cases in social media and drive traffic to the site.

The basics of WordPress look a lot like Microsoft Word, but a good blog requires lots of different media—pictures, video, audio—and plentiful links. And this is where novices can get stuck:

funny kid stuck wall instagram

Funny kid stuck wall instagram

In a kind gesture to his students, Professor Peter Carr, PhD, the programme director, has created a resource for students to help them through the technical aspects of blogging and social media. Aptly called “Resources for Students” and available on the homepage of the course blog, Dr. Carr has populated the section with a number of “how-to” videos, ranging from about 3 to 10 minutes in duration.

The Resources section is still in its infancy, having been initiated very recently. True to the overall theme of the course, Dr. Carr has opted to crowdsource input to develop the product. In comments provided in response to emailed queries, Dr. Carr said:

“First, I respond to direct questions that students raise for specific content, in other words, “How do I…..” questions. Second, I monitor student activity and identify areas where help might strengthen their learning. In online courses that can come from the conversations in the course, the work that people submit, and from the weekly online live course seminar.”

As well, Dr. Carr has included a section explaining different social media management tools like Hootsuite, that help users understand the effectiveness of their social media efforts and how to enhance that effectiveness.

Is inserting sound from Soundcloud in WordPress that’s got you stuck? Here are simple instructions:


What about using Google Analytics to track activity on your site? Here’s a how-to video:


While the product is primarily designed to help his students, Dr. Carr hopes it will have broader appeal and help other bloggers readily conquer the task of writing a WordPress blog post and following its spread analytically.

The Benefits of Crowdsourcing


Crowdsourcing is an excellent way to develop online content, the biggest example of this being, of course, Wikipedia. It has been shown to offer better quality results, since it pools abilities and, heck, it may even cure cancer one day!

For the Resources product, Dr. Carr has solicited content directly from his students who need to master WordPress posts posthaste in order to pass his course. In doing this, he insures that the content suggestions are relevant to current and future students.

In using crowdsourcing, Dr. Carr also avoids a common trap for all content developers, which is that it’s exceedingly hard to guess what someone else doesn’t know, when you already know it. With crowdsourcing, Dr. Carr needn’t guess what his students need help with, we tell him.


There are lots of ways to find information relevant to creating WordPress posts. Much of it is unnecessarily complicated or just wrong. I recently Googled how to insert Instagram pics in my WordPress blog. The results were complicated and didn’t actually work. In response to my (desperate) query, Dr. Carr sent this link, and it worked perfectly. So, as with everything, trusting the global knowledge base that is the Web is not always a good idea. Much better to have a trusted source, crowdsourced by actual users just like you.

Beyond current and future students in the SMBP program, The Resources section is useful to all new WordPress bloggers, in and out of the university community and the social media marketing community. Wide dissemination of the Resources section will build awareness of the SMBP site and the SMBP course in the online community.

Submitted By: Debra L. Beck

To contact the author of this entry please email:

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.