WordCamp: Your Ubiquitous Technological Community Conference

October 06, 2015

Shanta Natwani, a web design instructor and educator for ICCIT students at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, conjoined with Sheridan College, spoke and co-organised the WordCamp Toronto 2015 conference at Humber Lakeshore.

Shanta points out that “[m]ost students have visited millions of pages but, being a consumer of pages doesn’t make you good at understanding how to design a page effectively.”

For students, WordCamp is an important opportunity. Shanta says, “[t]he job of your dreams is not on internet postings, it’s within your network. One of the ways that WordCamp can help is by improving that network, such as talking to the other attendees; it is key to keep those connections active after the conference and an online presence can help them do that, whether that is their LinkedIn profile, a portfolio or your own website.”

WordCamp offers ideas, instruction, and assistance, for students who wish to publish an online portfolio. There are resources available online that will easily give you a bare minimum website.  For an effective presence online there are more things to consider.  “In reality, there are a large number of things that you need to take into account when building.” If you want to present yourself with more than just a name and an image, WordCamp seminars will introduce techniques to help you stand out in a technologically innovative way.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of their experience level with web design. Beginner seminars cover the mysteries of WordPress. For those unfamiliar with WordPress, it is popular blogging content management system, but its capabilities expand far beyond that description.

Kevin A. Barnes works with Ex Fabula: a non-profit storytelling organization, he also works as a web developer in Wisconsin. Kevin gave a seminar on using WordPress for storytelling. A writer can present their stories using stunning design, with simple additions such as themes and plugins available in WordPress. Kevin says the “sense of an enthusiastic community” is most important for students to take from WordCamp.

Jessica Gardner is a website developer who also provides instruction on how to set up a website. Her seminar was an “introductory tour” of WordPress. What is most important for students to take from the WordCamp experience is to connect to the WordPress community, according to Jessica. She says there is an “amazing support system”, and there is “no proprietary”.

Seminars cover topics for beginners, intermediates, developers, but are open for everyone. If your interest is in search engine optimization, facets, geolocation, ecommerce, or if you are not sure what any of these terms mean, it is a good idea to attend a WordCamp conference.

Want to participate in the WordPress community? Shanta advises students to “volunteer at the WordCamps, go to meetups, have a site, write a plugin, build a theme. Ultimately, do what you do best to help the community at large. Not everyone is a coder or a designer. Sometimes, you might help organize that event, or shoot a video for someone or take some photos at an event. Help out where you can.”

To find out more about WordCamp Toronto, volunteer opportunities for 2016, sessions, topics, dates, and locations, visit https://toronto.wordcamp.org/2015/.

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