Books & Book Reviews
Birmingham-based IT publisher Packt Publishing is about to publish its 1000th title. Packt books are renowned among developers for being uniquely practical and focused. Packt books cover highly specific tools and technologies which IT professionals might not expect to see a high quality book on.
Packt would like you to join them in celebrating this milestone with a surprise gift – to get involved you just need to have already registered, or sign up for a free Packt account before 30th September 2012.
Packt published their first book in April 2004. One of the most prolific and fastest growing tech book publishers in the world, they now have books on everything from web development to web graphics, e-learning to e-commerce, IT architecture to games, and app development.
Packt supports many of the Open Source projects covered by its books through a project royalty donation, which has contributed over £300,000 to Open Source projects up to now. As part of the celebration Packt is allocating $30,000 to share between projects and authors in a genuinely unique way, soon to be disclosed on their website.
Dave Maclean, founder of Packt Publishing explains, “At Packt we set out 8 years ago to bring practical, up to date and easy to use technical books to the specialist tools and technologies that had been largely overlooked by IT publishers. Today, I am really proud that with our authors and partners we have been able to make useful books available on over 1000 topics and make our contribution to the development community.”
For more information about Packt, the kind of books they publish, and to sign-up for a free account before the 30th of September, 2012, please visit their website: www.PacktPub.com.
WordPress for Education by Adam Scott is one of those rare books that fits a niche I didn’t even know existed. I had never thought about the complexities of using WordPress in an educational environment before hearing the title of this work. Once I began to think about it and to explore what it meant to use a tool like WordPress within an educational environment, or for that matter to use it within any reasonably interactive learning arena, the need became clear.
While the author does cover the perfunctory topics of installing WordPress, getting a theme set up, and establishing users, he does not dwell on those areas. Thankfully. There are far too many excellent books that cover these tasks in depth. Best not to waste the meat of the book on those things. While the topics of security, backup, and optimization are touched on so the first time WordPress user knows they exist, the suggestion is obviously that those are topics for further reading.
Very quickly Scott gets down to business with plugins that will aid in education – such as those for generating bibliographies or for exporting your entire site as an electronic book. Even more important are the chapters on using multi-user WordPress, BuddyPress, and Open Courseware to develop a fully integrated electronic classroom environment. This can be anything from as simple as posting assignments online to as complex as letting students develop their own smaller sub-sites, creating discussion groups for interactive learning, and submitting and grading the final results.
Scott has a very easy and likable writing style. He has obviously used the products he is talking about and knows their details. He presents that information in the same way you would hope a good professor would, in a friendly yet authoritative manner. In WordPress for Education he presents the information you need to know while not pretending to be the be-all-end-all source, which is impossible because WordPress is a constantly changing and evolving platform.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is contemplating setting up an online education environment be it in primary education, secondary, or beyond. This also applies to businesses. We must not forget that education continues long after leaving the school building. Many of the techniques and tools in Scott’s work would be excellent for implementation in employee training, religious education, vocational training, or other areas. Even civic clubs like writer’s groups or any organization that has a teaching or testing process could benefit from at least a light read of the book.
Also note that, as is the case with all Packt Publishing books, the WordPress for Education is available in both paper and multiple electronic formats, so it is quite convenient to have with you in whatever form you prefer.
Note: The publisher gave me a copy of this book for the purpose of. There were no strings attached, and that gratis review copy in no way influenced my opinions towards this work.
If you go much deeper into WordPress than simply adding pages, posts, and maybe some images, you will quickly come across areas where you will need a bit more instruction. As you start to customize menus, tailor-fit widgets, and adjust what posts appear in different locations, the standard out-of-the box help screens just don’t cut it anymore. This is where a book like Ric Shreve’s WordPress 3 Cookbook comes into play.
The WordPress 3 Cookbook, published by Packt Publishing in December of 2012, is not the kind of book you read cover to cover. As the title implies, it contains a series of recipes or tasks that you will go to in order to get something specific accomplished. Those tasks may be as simple as changing some text in the header or footer, or as complex as customizing the internal WordPress look to display posts of only a certain type or combining that with some custom CSS to display your posts in a two column layout.