I started blogging during my first year of teaching. My first site was under the domain of zjvv.net – although I quickly switched to misterv.net given that 1) It was a score and 2) That’s what all my students called me. The site was a mixture of writings and reflections on teaching, with most of my posts being lesson plans and class rules and procedures (a bit mundane).
I used Dreamweaver (a bootlegged copy) and went about learning CSS, HTML, PHP, and the like through trial and error. I wish I could find those old files but they are lost to time. I distinctly remember a cheesy picture of Renee and me next to a snowman as the header image. Fun times.
Somewhere in the early aughts, I discovered WordPress and Moodle, and I moved my teaching routine to those two platforms. WordPress, in particular, has served as my swiss-army knife for pretty much everything. From school websites, to funky workflows and data manipulation, to interactive presentations. You can get WordPress to do anything.
When I left the classroom, I moved to Edlighten as my primary domain. It’s a fun scrapbook of my writing life. Complete with old lesson plans, political observations of the George Bush era, and portfolio objects from a good decade-plus (my favorite – the project I learned PHP on was a “discipline” application).
When the pandemic hit, I got an itch to try a new platform. What was wrong with good old reliable WordPress? Nothing, really. And Lord knows I spent a good amount of time with the platform in Abre.io land. But some of the cool kids on the internets were talking about “static websites” and “headless CMSs” and “Jamstack this and that”.
So I played around.
I gave Jekyll and Github a spin. Too cumbersome. I tried Hugo. Likewise, a pain. The new hit on the block was Gatsby, and, because I wanted to be cool, I stuck with it for a good few weeks. Gatsby taught me many new concepts and let me get into the joy of learning. But in the end, it was too complicated as well.
I finally settled on Ghost.
I love Ghost’s mission and non-profit model. Indeed, in another universe, I would have liked to see Abre follow that road (to some extent, that was the original idea).
Ghost allowed me to launch a Cloudron instance (more on that cornucopia of delights in a future post) on Digital Ocean. A bit of polish, love, and fiddling and boom, Edlighten now ran on Ghost.
There were a few issues. URLs sometimes didn’t quite match. A few bits of media were lost. Also, this earlier version of Ghost didn’t have comments (I did have fun setting up Commento in Cloudron for a while).
Yet overall, the experience was a delight.
This Holiday Break, I Switched Back to WordPress
I do some cleanup during the New Year break. Both my actual writing and the frameworks and practices of writing.
Why move back to WordPress? Mostly because I missed the versatility and flexibility of WordPress. Ghost is a spectacular platform for blogging and newsletters. WordPress obviously has those abilities (in a somewhat cumbersome form), and it can create different post types, pages, and functions.
I’m moving into a new role at Abre (SVP of Innovation and Outcomes). With the position comes the opportunity to write more, create more multimedia, present, and grow in thought leadership. Reverting to WordPress will help document this narrative.
Ghost will be Part of the Toolkit
I have a slow slide project on Open Education. Specifically, the open-source tools that can be used in Education. When I have time (which is rare at the moment), I launch, play, and test open-source applications and model use cases for schools. I hope to launch a newsletter one of these days (retirement?) that covers this passion.
I’ll likely use Ghost as the platform.
But in the meantime, it’s back to the solid, enjoyable, and reliable standby of WordPress.