Kimberly (Kim) Shivler, M.Ed. has been a technical trainer and writer for over 20 years.
She learned HTML in 1995 building help files as a UNIX system administrator and opened her first web development company in 1996. Since then, Kim has worked as a business owner and employee in a variety of fields including a few years as part of an IBM worldwide team. Between 2008 and 2012, she worked with a variety of Content Management Systems and ran an online membership site for skincare professionals using Drupal. In 2012, Kim found WordPress and never looked back at any other CMS. She has been creating online courses in WordPress since 2013 and currently combines her background in education, years of business experience, and WordPress experience to teach others how to build online courses and membership websites.
What should we know about you that you haven’t included in your brief, third-person, professional biography?
I absolutely adore cats, and my three are frequently part of my webinars and classes. I’m in the process of creating a website just for them. I’m basically a goofball who loves to have fun, so if you take my classes prepare for a little silliness and some fun along with the tech and business information.
We’re all partial to WordPress, but as someone with a host of experience on other platforms, why WordPress over the alternatives?
There are so many reasons to love WordPress. The community rocks!! I think that’s one of my favorite things about it.
Also, since my main focus in life is teaching and empowering others, WordPress is a no-brainer. It is the most powerful online platform that I have found that can still be accessible to people who don’t want to become professional developers.
Having said that, there are definitely technical aspects of WordPress that need to be learned if you’re going to work with it, but in the past I never would have been able to teach my mother to build a basic website and blog to share her message.
In 20+ years on the web, what’s the most drastic change you’ve seen? What have you done to stay relevant despite this change?
From when I started in 1995, I’m not sure if the most drastic change was the advent of WYSIWYG editors like FrontPage and Dreamweaver, the implementation of dynamic sites that then lead to the Content Management Systems like WordPress, or the addition of CSS which really changed the way we could work with styling sites.
As for staying relevant, in some ways I got lazy. I still use text editors for CSS, but now fall back on the visual editors for content editing. And, I’ve moved to more user friendly text editors like Text Wrangler on the Mac for hand editing. I’ve completely forgotten vi.
In your experience, what about learning management systems is so powerful and why are they so hot right now?
The power of learning management systems is the increased connection and interaction they provide between student and teacher. While a blog post, may provide great information, a well created learning system and user-focused, educationally sound course can create a bond between student and teacher. Even when much of the interaction is automated, because you are able to step-by-step walk someone through a process and setup homework, quizzes and other interactions to help insure that they understand and demonstrate the knowledge of what you’re teaching there is a deeper connection than a simple post or ebook.
As for why they are hot right now, the first is because of the interaction aspect. People are looking for interaction and engagement. They don’t just want authorities broadcasting to them. They want to engage. Unfortunately, the second reason they are hot is that the more spammy Internet marketers are touting them as a way to get rich quick. In my experience, they can be powerful tools to build and engage with an audience, and while some people have had 6 figure launches, it’s not the norm.
What one piece of actionable advice would you give to someone who wants to start building their learning management system today?
Create your plan and requirements document. This is the most critical step to insure you build the platform that fits your needs. We’ll be covering some of this in the presentation and a planning guide will be available for all attendees. It’s important to know what you need before you build it. For example, do you need the option for multiple instructors? Are you going to want forums for increased engagement and interaction? Building a platform and then finding it doesn’t meet your needs is a bummer.
Head over to The Dunbar at WordCamp Los Angeles 2016 on Sunday September 11 at 2:3opm to catch Kim’s talk Building an Ultimate Learning Platform with WordPress.