WordPress & Higher Ed

Sunday, October 19th, 2014


  • Curtiss Grymala – University of Mary Washington

Location: Skyline III

You’ve probably read the critiques about WordPress: “It’s a blogging tool,” “It’s not secure,” “It’s only for people who don’t know how to code,” and “It’s free, so it must be full of bugs.” The reality is WordPress has grown into a mature, full-featured web application tool, capable of running the simplest of microsites all the way to the most complex University sites, and all the stops in-between. There is a robust ecosystem of developers, users and service providers who develop many different types of websites in WordPress. In fact, nearly 19% of websites today run on WordPress! This workshop will bust the myths of WordPress, and provide examples of how it is being used in a myriad of ways in higher education, from content management to learning management to intranets and more. The interactive workshop will include data sharing and real-life examples of WordPress sites. Attendees are encouraged to share their WordPress projects, experiences and best practices with a cohort of fellow higher ed developers, designers, communicators and marketers. Attendees are also encouraged to come prepared with questions about WordPress projects, how best to implement them and whether or not WordPress is appropriate for those projects.


  • 59 networks
  • 327 total sites
  • 104  plugins
  • 10,000 posts
  • 10,000 pages

This does not include

  • Blogs. About 5000 sites!
  • Free domain name and sites for every student! This is awesome!

We like to wait until something happens to make a rule about how to handle it. Took 4 years for a 4-letter-word to show up on the blogs.

  • Penn State uses them for blogs and “sites” – we need to start sites.pcc.edu
  • Ever engineering department seems to be using WP…
  • Lots of great examples of colleges using WP as a CMS. I need to grab these slides…
  • MOOC – DS106. very very cool.
  • WordPress is generally not a competitive sphere. The companies that are doing the best, are the ones that share.


  • just for blogging
  • insecure
  • for small sites
  • slow

WordPress is a security target, due to it’s popularity. But security fixes happen very fast on the core.

120 concurrent users was cool at UMD on shared hosting. 700 concurrent caused major issues. Moved to WP Engine – with no extra caching! NGINX proxy caching is also  a great option. It is what UMD now uses. Testing done with blitz.

Need to have staging server to test things.

Tools for Higher Ed w/WordPress

  • Authentication options
    • Jetpack wordpress.com auth
    • Active directory
    • LDAP
    • CAS / Shib
  • Caching option
    • Application level
    • Server level
  • MU – now means “Must Use”
    • PHP in here will be executed in all sites!
  • SEO
    • YOAST
  • Security
    • Themes Security
    • Wordfence
    • Cloudflare
  • Backups?
    • Backup buddy
    • Master/Slave for DB?
    • Revisions? 15 at UMD
    • WP Engine has a snapshot engine
    • Subversion







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