Our experience at Fossmosis 2017

Picture credits: Free Software Movement of Maharashtra & Prasad Subramaniam

Fossmosis 2017 was a four day workshop organised by the Free Software Movement of Maharashtra. Held in association with PICT, one of the most prestigious computer sciences institute in our city, the event aimed to promote free and open source software among college students.

The organisers aimed to cover several FOSS, technologies and projects, including WordPress. Mr. Abhijit A.M. from COEP, who we regularly interact with as part of growing WordPress in education efforts, got us in touch with the organisers of event.

A few emails later, Nitun and I were scheduled to conduct a WordPress workshop session for the 60 Computer Science / IT students who had signed up to attend Fossmosis 2017.

The event

We were assigned the dreaded afternoon slot, between 2:30pm and 6pm. In order to make our session as engaging as possible, we aimed to start off with a short introduction to WordPress (as a primer) and quickly move on to more practical stuff.

We arrived at the venue and got to setting up- this mainly consisted of making sure that our Digital Ocean droplet with a dummy WordPress install was A-OK.

After a brief introduction by the organisers, we took to the stage and started on the aforementioned WordPress primer. It went about as well as expected. In hindsight, I think we should have gotten into the general architecture of the Internet before jumping into WordPress. This would have helped give the students a better context.

Everything was going well, until about 30 minutes later, when we finally got to the “workshop” part of the workshop.

Murphy’s Law

Every student had access to an Internet-connected Ubuntu machine. Our plan was to get the students to install WordPress locally using EasyEngine and have them complete a few simple exercises.

Turns out, the college’s firewall was set up to block apt-get requests. Since EasyEngine relies on apt-gets to set up the WordPress stack, our whole 2-command install fell through. Oh well, time to improvise.

We pivoted to setting up the LAMP stack manually and successfully got WordPress set up on the few machines that had an alternate Internet access point.

This is where most of the students started responding, asking questions and having fun (we hope). Seriously, we could talk all we wanted, but the live demo drove all the theory home.

The take-away

I think that our primer session set a decent platform for the students to explore WordPress. We could have elaborated on some of the more technical stuff, and perhaps should have. Nevertheless, I think that this was a solid first introduction to WordPress. We genuinely hope that our session ignited a curiosity about WordPress in more than a few students.

This was the first time that I spoke about WordPress outside of meetups and internal training sessions at rtCamp. In preparing for the session, I found and addressed holes in my knowledge that I didn’t know I had. I definitely feel much more confident about my competence with WordPress, where it fits in, and why it is such a big deal. The preparation was stressful, but worth it.

We are actively looking to work with colleges, institutions and program organisers to get the Word out there (pun intended). If you are any of the above, do get in touch with us!

Links: FSMM Website | Fossmosis page