Press This Podcast: Scale Your Business & Contribute Back by Teaching WordPress to Others with Courtney Robertson

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Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Here host David Vogelpohl sits down with clients from around the community to talk about the most significant publishes facing WordPress makes. The following is a transcription of the original recording.

David Vogelpohl: Hello everyone and therefore welcomed Press This the WordPress community podcasts on WMR. This is your host, David Vogel Paul, I support the WordPress community through my character at WP Engine, and I love to bring the best of the community to you examine every week on press this as a remembrance, you can find me on Twitter @wpdavidv, or you can subscribe to press this on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or download the latest incidents at In this incident we’re going to be talking about scaling your business, simultaneously contributing back to WordPress by learn WordPress to others that’s right you can get others in your organization to learn WordPress, lent this skill set to your bureau or your symbol your in room team and participating us back speech is person unusually versed on this topic and I’d like to welcome to Press This Courtney Robertson.

Courtney Robertson: David. It’s great to be with you today.

DV: Awesome. So glad to have you now. I know we got to know each other what was in WordCamp Philly reading into each of their clients for the first time there. It’s really exciting be talking about the manipulate you’re doing. Educating those really great variety of contacts on learning WordPress. But what Courtney is really going to talk to us today about are the waterworks work in an organization called code differently, which I’ll talk about here in a little bit. It’s critical member of volunteer team working on expanding and optimizing She’s a surmount instructor and professor, But really wish she’d been talking to us today, like how you can go about educating others in your business and only more broadly in terms of WordPress. So Courtney, the first question I requested every client. You might remember it. When you generated your profile so many years ago, but briefly tell me your WordPress origin story.

CR: Sure thing. So I was a high school business ed educator, focusing in teach programme, and I was schooling HTML and CSS, and lo and beheld, content control pulpits are starting to become more available, like Joomla and Moodle Moodle was a learning management is worse platform, and I have motley know-hows with them sort of been around WordPress two three. And that’s when I decided to try it out. And I downloaded it and use it for as a personal blog at the time. I did have a couple of clairvoyants where I was installing the revolution theme, the original before Genesis became what it is, and read how to register the sidebars and the widgets, before they were available. And by the time 2009 reeled around we still didn’t have the foundation WordPress foundation but I attended my first work camp was wordcamp Mid Atlantic, when we were able to have, or regional not municipality located identifies for our cliques. And during that talk for the theme. A kneeling hasten of movable form launched a contestant to akismet. And so, Those were my early days, around WordPress, I had been involved for a good while.

DV: Citing goes there what year do you think 2.3 was in you recollect, or when you started like when was this.

CR: I believe that would have been. We could search it up on the WordPress history but I think it would then be. Yes. Yes, I think it would have been around 2008.

DV: Okay good deal, still early days and you mentioned revolution which was one of the first themes, as you pointed out to kind of feature widgets and too that moment, I consider this timeframe at WordPress WordPress became a thing you built websites with widgetized home pages certainly make a website with WordPress. To me, that was a critical moment. Now, my next question is, you know, you kind of do a great deal, write your blog differently are involved with learning WordPress guessing your other enterprises, cure me understand like What does Courtney Robertson do.

CR: Yeah. These periods, a lot of my focus is really on learn others about WordPress and I am a onetime high school teacher so of course that’s going to be my passion. I, my backstory after I left the classroom for a number of years I took on my own clients and develop websites for them. Often small business and realtor based. And then I detoured back into the classroom where I taught WordPress as a long term sub made a few years away, having children and during that time I contracted with others that construct websites for clients, including. Also, modern tribe who holds events docket so I have experience operating too within an organization that gives WordPress products.

DV: You mentioned you are well aware I mentioned and you also mentioned system differently. Could you tell us a little bit about what system differently does.

CR: Absolutely. So coat differently is a training organization that furnishes others with skills in many programing language. And to date. We has not been able to charged a single participant in our programs. Often, the outreach is specifically for those that are underserved and underrepresented. A mint of our funding is directed towards programs to reach those individuals, and I have educated this past summer high school students that were paid to learn how to use WordPress. That was an amazing opportunity. So the students in our platform, learned how to go from lay WordPress and running backups, all the way through employing some page builders and common fee plugins and topics. And after that time we started doing some planning for an adult business owner DIY track, facilitating business owners, especially those impacted by COVID. Get websites up and running. We hope to launch.

DV: All freedom. Yes, yes, yes, that distinction yesterday when we chat is like adult age business.

CR: Yes, so not high school. h certaines. And too, that curriculum will hopefully be launching in the very near future. We are working right now on the return ready planned, which are individuals that have been laid off by COVID. So , not business owners, this program is for those that are seeking employment within an organization, whether that be an enterprise agency or various types of web development stores. They’re learning HTML, CSS and ponderous on the JavaScript, especially react, but I get to come in and explain how WordPress as a material management organization threads, all of those lingos and a few other goodies, all together. And next week. Next week we’ll too be launching the 1000 Children coding, and that program is specific an outreach to sixth through 12 th graders. All of our programs are for those in the state of Delaware, and the students that are participating in that platform will be issued, laptops, they’ll be Chromebooks. And so we have need of hosting for sure if we can’t work in a regional environment with that. So they’ll be able to use some hosting provided by WP Engine and I’m super agitated to get going with them as well.

DV: Thanks for the shout out really happy to support you they’re unquestionably get to know Kevin differently, better since we met, Billy at least in terms of like research and seeing some of the word legends about it really impressed with the performance of their duties, their Broadway in terms of technology and and representatives but also, certainly in terms of WordPress so I was wondering if you can quickly tell me about your work on

CR: Sure. So I attached the WordPress training team in 2013. We have been developing lesson strategy, behind the scenes if you are able to for a number of years. This summertime I was able to rejoin because I had need of using the lesson strategies on how to facilitate a WordPress training workshop. And I decided to get involved with the team again. At the time , not a lot of the team was pulping to world pandemic and parties have a lot going on. So, we launched the Learn WordPress website, and we’re also rehabilitating a squad at the time. So, a lot to have happen at once. We have conducted an audit of all the lesson intentions that are out on the site, and we are in the process of a full start coming on in a few months, right now we’re at a soft lunch place. That means that there’s some work to be done specific with the lesson proposes under the hood. We have some need for some volunteers in those areas.

DV: Okay Good deal. Thanks for generating that up and undoubtedly your background and certainly the projects you’re involved with a very good person to talk to you about improving folks, or right kind of helping kinfolks understand what it takes to educate someone on bird pricing. So, as an coach what strategies do you use for curriculum planning and belief WordPress like there’s like how you make love in the moment, but like, where do you start installing WordPress like setting up a berth you have to go through like warlocks like how do you think about the curriculum planning.

CR: So it actually depends on the specific group that I’m working with all used programs are going to be about the same, but the outcome of these programs genuinely can diversify. So, a business owner, that has a small business website. They might be best suited for having a page builder. High school students, they’re going to get through a lot of the user substances, and those that are aspiring to work in this industry as developers need to go through all of the user materials of course before we can really start digging into a lot of code. Generally what I have done is all users will still need to know how to install WordPress. If possible, both on their regional laptop or computers and also on their hosting. When we get into hosting I walk them through the ideas of staging and backups and those type of things. After we get through get our orbits set up and generated. We then move through an entire user type of program to learn everything about the block writer right now. And I supplement in information about what’s going on in local communities so it’s not just.

DV: If I can end precisely real quick. It sounds like from a high level though what you’re doing is you’re kind of finding their their sequel, like what are they driving towards what do they need to learn to achieve something. Then, various kinds of, for the most part you have these boilerplate skills and abilities that like everyone needs to know how to install WordPress or a plugin or plugin or deal with hosting and so on and so forth. So that you’re tailor-make it though that the curriculum to this outcomes they’re driving absolutely want to dig a little deeper on this, but we’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll are quite right back.

DV: Welcome back to press this WordPress podcast on w Mr. Steven global tally I’m interviewing Courtney Robertson scaling your business and contributing back by belief others WordPress already right before the crack you were talking a little bit about curriculum planning and you’re kind of telling us this notion of like you’re you’re planning the curriculum based on the outcome and the students strategy. You’re gonna go a little bit more detail though about how to kind of how you craft that curriculum for those are just curious if you could expand on that. What does it take to create that make engineering.

CR: So, at the user level and, again, everyone learns the same things. I scattered in with it. What’s going on in the development of WordPress right now, we’re in the throes of massive varies going on involving the block editor. And while we don’t see with every exhaust a big change happening. We’re parade towards full site editing, and I do my best to connect consumers when they’re learning how to be a user to connect them to where in this process are we on what deepens can we anticipate.

DV: And then as I was counterproductive Sorry to interrupt I said it’s gonna follow up question ever do you find that’s counterproductive like is it not better to exactly teach them like what works right now like Do you find that helpful to connect our true-life fib?

CR: Well, in the middle of my “schools ” radical this past summer. Everything about the block editor boundary varied. So, preparing them for these changes to occur, is I imagine vital and also providing the high expectations for those that are in a track to become developers to be aware that they’re stepping in and here is how something is at this moment. But we’re in the middle of this big project, and to have noses on. By the time we are out in the labour force, we were able to understand fastens in the widget area going on and you might need to be aware of how to develop for those things, coating the picture that things are changing and we do need to keep up, but likewise to say, WordPress has existed for 17 years and certainly the block writer is relatively new in the infinite of that time, but it feels like it’s a lot all at once. When you’re right in the middle of it. So exactly helping them to see that and a little bit of the industry tends, so that they’re it’s on their radar, as they are moving into the workforce again.

DV: You are a master educator like you’re declining these tasks, even though it might be kind of confusing the message and the moment. rodder sense that things reform. You need to adapt as well, like that are very clever. So how do you think about the rest of the curriculum that like how far do you make, or how do you how do you are well aware I kind of like break up the content and what content to provide that’s a lot to provide on the podcast. Great.

CR: Yeah, utterly. So I actually have approached a few different organizations in the developer track area specifically to request. Tell me what you need for incoming applicants. If you’re interested in having diverse qualified applicants. Tell me what are the skills that you need for some of the full season of introduction rank castes accessible. And what skills and abilities, should they have, what type of projects, would you like to see them be able to do during that application process. And from there I can work downwards and say, Well, everybody still needs to know how to be a user, there’s that. As we progress, we will get into a little bit of building blocks with several different implements accessible, whether starting totally encode or some of the third party ways of creating blocks that we’ve got plan on integrating those, we will move on to themes for sure. And I don’t think we’re going to affect the degree of having our specific planned hit. Let’s build a headless site right out of the box. I would love to get there but I don’t know that we’ve got time in this space of that. But to be able to indicate here is, all of this JavaScript skills that you’ve got and here are these things that are happening in the industry and connecting them to ongoing reserves contents vastly to me. So I would say a lot depends upon what I examine a community doing at the time, and the input that I’m receiving from those that they are likely apply to

DV: that reverberates true thinking back through some of our social commitments and we met at wordcamp Philly. You get really excited about the berth I did from z net that registered an 864% increase in PHP locations, Junior PHP places. Over 2020, so that you know I knew that was agitating to you because undoubtedly you’re advocating and working for your students to get these tasks. And then, you know, too the questions you had around the company I work for for this listing web. network instruments hiring rules to know like what am i optimizing for. So if I’m in individual organizations with say an busines or have an in house squad and I have squad members I want to train up on WordPress. It is just like like one angle would be like well what is their objective as a student right what undertaking do I want them to have, but also like, what would their tasks be in that job so it sounds like you’re kind of a meld between like everybody comes this material. And then if they’re building up for a specific outcome and a specific role. What requirements are there so in other words it my bureau doesn’t have blocks and maybe I don’t need to school them how to use blocks or build blocks. So is that safe to say like, if I was in house that I would be thinking about like what jobs do I want them to do to then craft my curriculum to favor that versus like going too far outside the bounds.

CR: That would be correct. I think everyone gets to be a good consumer. And then “were having” some that will stop at being a website builder where they are using commodities that they lay a plugin theme, etc and they’ve got a accomplished website, and others may prosecute being private developers that starts those makes. And so, those specific skills and abilities are going to look a little different depending on each individual.

DV: That’s really helpful as people listening, think about how they might structure their training curriculum. So let me switch gears a little bit, you know, with COVID in the world lockdown plainly we have were curtailed from from literal in person, practice, but perhaps we could use the surrogate things like zoom in virtual rally seats but how do you decide between, like, I’m going to planned an in person training event, whether it be on zoom or actually in person, versus eat anytime content like videos and clauses like certainly you’re probably use both various kinds of the homework and the coursework kind of stuff. And how do you think about that see like what becomes coursework and what becomes devoured anytime content are.

CR: Under age students the ones that are in high school or grade levels lower, they get all of their substance during class occasion. That’s the high expectations, and that’s a lot in part because the summer our position was paid, they were being paid to learn to be website makes, so we couldn’t assign homework to them that was off the clock, that wasn’t an option for the adults, it diversifies, I’ll say that they have class three hours every day with a van go the morning racetrack or the night track there with me some of those eras they are with the instructor that I co teach with who manipulates the HTML the CSS and the JavaScript parcels. On the opposite daytimes. So, they have a little bit of self speeded video toil, they’re expected to complete that before they come to class. Our class time then is spent on reinforcing or specifying increases of that learn possibility. So I might assign today some videos about how to use the block editor. And then the next time that were in class together I might explains why more in person Why might we usage block structures versus reusable blocks. What are the things that we need to consider if we’re building blocks, such is current timeline tendencies but placing the stage as we’re learning how to use the blocks, what does all this aim, really, as well , not just how to be a consumer but coating the picture as we’re going on, what else do we need to know about this thing and why does it matter.

DV: So in that context it’s like the first phase is a bit of self teaching by consuming the material. When you come back together that’s when you do the double click. Is that profitable because it’s easier to grasp the content after you’ve toy around with it a little bit.

CR: Yeah, utterly, affording people a chance to be some paws do some hands on assignments with it, and then being able to ask questions of myself and each other during our class era is actually valuable. I do too provision as much as I can connection back to the WordPress community because that’s their ongoing professional change and where the possibilities of are. So, I likewise share a good chip of workcamp. tv videos or Press TV videos with them. And I say, these are clearly optional expansions beyond our class duration, they are not required. Do your work first. But if you would like to explore this topic more here are some resources available for “youre going to” do that. And that I name, awfully overtly as optional, because I don’t want to overtake but I do want to open every doorway I can.

DV: Oh is such a valuable part of WordPress as a matter of fact I even this morning I was saying like the community is half the produce. The relationships and the learnings and all the benefits, kinfolks get from participating in the community is such a big part of WordPress. I do have some more questions I kind of like to go a little bit deeper on some of these points but we’re going to take a quick break and we’ll are quite right back.

DV: Hello everyone welcome back to press this the WordPress community podcast on w EMR. This is your host David Vogel Paul I’m interviewing Courtney Robertson, about how you can scale your business and contribute back by teach others WordPress. Courtney right before the destroy you were talking a little bit about significant differences now you think about content in terms of in person or exhaust anytime. Most of the listeners are probably thinking about this in the adult learner framework. So it’s directed like your recommendation was to allow them to kind of self consume content and try on their own. And then when you congregate in person it’s a follow up to that lesson to kind of re emphasize crucial point and answer questions and guess venture and things like that. So my next question for you is like what mistakes, do you find parties build when they first get started, drilling people on WordPress like as a professional educator what meets you just like cringe like I care they wouldn’t do that. What are they doing wrong.

CR: I would say there are actually three things that I point to first is thinking that things are simple or easy for getting what it’s like to be a amateur, we really need to approach, everything with a beginner’s judgment, learning how to install WordPress, even though it’s the famed five minute install can be quite challenging. And if you’re not geared up for this might be hard for people to log in and recollect all the places they need to login, they need to log into their house, they need to log into WordPress formerly it’s installed, they might need to log into my class place. It’s a lot of things for parties and it can feel overwhelming. And then at perhaps regional invests. It’s overwhelming. And so we need to remember to be kind and that we never want to claim something as simple or easy, because for that individual. It may not be in that time. I’ve set WordPress, probably over 1000 eras at this site. Throughout my career, and it’s easy for me. It may not be easy for the individual that’s building out their portfolio locate. I would also indicate addictions, so before a customer can start to build blocks we need to have to use them. That’s the one that I’m in the middle of undoubtedly the coming week of my students so it’s really on my thinker. Dependencies demonstrated by if I want to start schooling a child theme. Do they know the HTML and CSS well under the hood. They don’t need to know everything possible. But I feel that there is a certain amount of other dependencies. When we’re aggregating several languages and improving a content administration system with that, that we need to account for, and so factoring in what they have to learn the prerequisites before they do this thing. And then, again, their local communities. The third option there is, when we’re educating parties about WordPress, we have a wealth within the WordPress community people that are eager to provide assistance sources training. Sometimes tech support, it depends upon where you’re turning and what’s going on but we have a wealth of beings that even up. WordPress, and it would not be where it is, if there was not the community behind it, there are real parties there. And they’re enthusiastic to invite others into this community, I speculate. So, how to connect people to the community will be just as important as information materials I school. When my students are done in their season with me. They need to know how to turn to the support docs, they need to know how to submit support tickets, where they can go for additional training and resources. Whether official or unofficial outposts of the WordPress community and I think that’s a heavy, ponderous part of areas people often overlook.

DV: There’s just so much good there could not agree anymore. I enjoy how you answered the question in the positive as well, are calling out the counter to the mistakes or calling out should I say the counter positive theme from the mistakes. Music like things that kind of induce your eyes twitch when you meet beings “ve been trying to” coach is not being style, right, trying to say that things are easy because you’re the expert in that thing. And if you come in with that mindset I’m guessing you’re not setting your students up for success because you can’t expect them to operate at the level you are not acknowledging those dependencies and prerequisite. That seems like a pretty easy one to catch when you’re teaching people things but I can imagine a lot of parties like forget that straight in, how to build a block wild person has nothing about blocks, or at least haven’t gained those kind of base abilities I also like how you talked about how you start with that kind of user journey within WordPress, and then graduate on to the more technical proportions, regardless of what they’re writing. And then, you are well aware , not , not recognise their local communities and kind of see yourself as separate from that and not inviting that person in like it was everybody’s first day. Everybody asked them questions at some station. So like acknowledging that preparing that part of it is just like like a very positive way to approach education with regrets corny I wish “weve had” more term I have 70 more a matter of you, but I exactly want to say thank you so much better for meeting us today.

CR: it’s been an honor to be with you.

DV: If you’d like to learn more about what Courtney is up to and all the different missions she’s on to support WordPress, satisfy check out And then if you’d like to check out her work on Code Differently, you can visit as a reminder code definitely is a great place to go if you’re looking to hire makes , not only in WordPress but beyond, satisfy check that out in your hiring. Thanks everyone for listening to Press This WordPress community podcast on WMR. This has been your emcee David Vogelphol. I support the WordPress community through my persona at WP Engine, and I “ve been wanting to” making the best of the community to here every week on Press This.

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