#101 – Pooja Derashri on Creating Educational WordPress Content

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case creating materials to help other people learn about WordPress.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you could do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice. Or by going to WPTavern.com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcast players.

If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head to WPTavern.com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox, and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Pooja Derashri. Pooja is a co-founder of WPVibes, a plugin development company based in India. With a passion for WordPress, Pooja has been actively involved in the community since 2013. Her journey as a contributor began in 2017, when she attended her first local WordCamp. Her expertise and dedication have earned her various key roles in the WordPress ecosystem. She currently serves as a co-team rep for the training team, and GTE for the Hindi locale. In addition, she holds key positions in the WordPress release squad for version 6.3 and 6.4, where she headed up the test team.

Pooja was on the podcast a few weeks ago talking about diversity, but this time the focus is on creating learning materials for WordPress.

We begin discussing Pooja’s background and her involvement with the training team. She shares how she stumbled upon the training team during a WordCamp event, and got started by finding a simple spelling mistake in a lesson plan. From there she became more involved with the training team and gradually took on roles such as reviewing code and leading the test team.

We get into the importance of training materials in helping new users understand and navigate the WordPress platform, highlighting the learn WordPress website. Pooja emphasizes that contributions to the training team can be as small as reviewing existing content, or as involved as creating new lessons or video tutorials.

If you’re curious about how to get started with the training team, Pooja explains the comprehensive onboarding program available in the team’s handbook. Additionally, there’s a mentorship guide program for one on one guidance for new contributors. Whether you have a few minutes or several hours to spare each week, there’s a place for everyone to make a start.

A key topic of the discussion is the need to keep the training materials up to date, as WordPress is a dynamic and ever-growing software. Pooja explains the team’s process of reviewing and updating content, particularly in light of new WordPress releases, and frequent changes in terminology.

We also talk about the importance of translations, introducing the opportunity for contributors to help with translating materials into different languages. Making WordPress accessible to a global audience.

Towards the end, Pooja highlights the supportive and collaborative nature of the training team. She shares her experience of making friends and connections across the globe while contributing to the team. There’s a sense of community and camaraderie amongst the contributors, making it an enjoyable journey for all involved.

If you’re curious about helping others learn WordPress, this episode is for you.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to WPTavern.com forward slash podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Pooja Derashri.

I am joined on the podcast today by Pooja Derashri. Hi, Pooja.

[00:04:27] Pooja Derashri: Hello, Nathan.

[00:04:28] Nathan Wrigley: It is so nice to have you back. You were on the podcast just a few weeks ago now, talking about something completely different. We’ll point you in the direction of that episode in the show notes. But today, Pooja, we’re going to be talking about learning WordPress. About the training team and about the Learn WordPress website and resources.

Just before that, for those people who didn’t hear the previous episode, would you just give us a short biography? Tell us a little bit about yourself, your journey with WordPress and so on.

[00:04:59] Pooja Derashri: Yeah, sure. My name is Pooja Derashri and I’m from Ajmer, a beautiful city in India. I’m a co founder of WPVibes, a plugin development company. I’m also an active contributor to WordPress community. I served as a training team representative for the past two years, and now I’m serving as a test team rep. I was also in the WordPress release squad for 6.3 and 6.4 version, where I led the test team.

[00:05:27] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. That’s really great. So obviously you’re very, very committed to WordPress. And one of the big things about WordPress is getting people to understand how the software works. If you’re like me, and like you, Pooja, I suspect that it’s pretty obvious what to do with WordPress. You’ve used it an awful lot before, and you’re committed to it, and you understand how it all works.

But people who are new to the platform, or people who are trying to explore something that they haven’t used with it before, obviously have to learn a little bit about how that works. And it may be that people do not know. But there are training materials that are being created over at Learn WordPress. I will give the links in the show notes.

And that is being done and coordinated by the training team. Would you just tell us a little bit about how you got involved with the training team? When did you begin your journey and what kind of things have you been doing, personally, with training and learn materials?

[00:06:26] Pooja Derashri: Yes. Before telling me about my involvement, I would like to tell about how I got started contributing to the training team. I was attending a WordCamp, WordCamp Ahmedabad. There was a contributor day. There are several teams over there, and I decided to learn more about the training team.

On that day, Chetan Prajapati, the table lead of training team, guided me about what is Learn WordPress, and how I can contribute to it. So he guided me to review some lesson plans. When I was reviewing the lesson plans, I found a spelling mistake in one of the lesson plans. And I suggested a correction, simple correction. That was my first contribution to the team.

Basically I had a development background, so I was not sure how I can use my skills in creating content, or something like that. So I was not sure how I can get involved with the training team more, where all other team members were working around content.

But at that time Courtney Robertson and Hauwa Abashiya were the team reps. And the whole team was working on the initial launch of the Learn WordPress .org website. They, guided me on how I contribute to reviewing code in lesson plan. That was my cup of tea and I am fascinated about it. So I joined the forces, at the time, and soon felt very comfortable with the team.

Basically the training team overall helped me a lot in learning and growing. With the team’s help, I gradually started feeling more confident and part of the inaugural team. That time with my consistent contribution, or my involvement with the team, I was nominated and selected as a team rep back in 2022.

[00:08:09] Nathan Wrigley: That’s absolutely fascinating. So your entire journey started out by spotting a spelling mistake, and it grew from there. That’s lovely. But it also points to the fact that you don’t need to do something really seismic. You don’t have to be involved in the training team. You don’t have to do anything super major, it is possible to be involved to do little things.

You don’t have to dedicate absolutely ages of your week over to this. Would that be right? There’s no commitment in terms of time, or the amount that you’re going to do. Making little changes is just as important as contributing in a big way.

[00:08:45] Pooja Derashri: Yes, definitely. It was started just with his spelling mistake correction. And now I’m more involved with the administrator related things, running weekly meetings with other co-team reps, posting monthly updates, monthly newsletter, reviewing other team’s content, other team members content. I’m also a translation coordinator for my Hindi language.

Yeah, and in past I was also wrote few lesson plans. So yeah, it started with a small thing, and gradually with more involvement, I learned many new things.

[00:09:16] Nathan Wrigley: If somebody was interested, let’s say that they’ve listened to this episode and they are keen to, at least have further discussions about what it is that they could do. I’m, interested in you describing how the team is structured. So, as an example, if I’m new, how do I get onboarded, and how is it decided where I would be most useful?

So you mentioned a couple of things there, you know, you were talking about the fact that you were able to change spelling mistakes. But you also talked about the fact that you could do things in your own language.

Do you get to show up and pick what it is that you’re going to do, or is there a hierarchy? Are there people, such as yourself, who’ve been contributing to this for a while, who have their hands on what needs doing, and kind of farm out those projects to people?

[00:10:05] Pooja Derashri: Yes. At the beginning of this year, my co-team rep, Benjamin Evans, who worked on a project for an onboarding program for new contributors. And desperately it helped us win half of the battle. New contributors found learning and getting involved with the training team is very easy. They can find the complete getting onboarded program in our handbook. That is available on make.wordpress.org/training/handbook.

There is a section, getting started. There is a complete video and tutorial format, where they can find the step by step process about how they can involve. And by reading that handbook, they can find their own way to start contributing. That is very easy and concise way to get involved.

And there is also, a program, run by Courtney P. K., that is a mentorship guide program. There is a one on one mentorship program, where few mentors guide mentees about how they can start contributing to the training team, and help them to make meaningful contributions.

[00:11:08] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, thank you for that. So, you’re obviously extremely keen on doing this, and it sounds like you dedicate quite a lot of your time. Again, for the listener who is maybe just coming across this subject for the first time, are there any guardrails, or are there any things which you would suggest, in terms of the amount of time that you need to dedicate if you want to be involved?

I know that you mentioned the handbook, but for people who don’t quite make it there and are using this podcast audio only as their guide, is there any level of commitment? Do you wish to have people who are willing to give a certain amount of time per week, or can commit to a certain number of weeks or months? Or are you happy to have anybody on board, even for a short period of time? People who drop in, drop out. Are you taking all comers?

[00:11:53] Pooja Derashri: Yes, definitely. If our listeners have only a limited time, like let’s say just half an hour, or one hour in a week. So they can review the content the other content creators are creating, already created content.

In every few months, we review our published content as well. Because as a new version, WordPress version launches, some of the content get outdated. So we always do the auditing the existing content, so people can go through with that content.

If they found any outdated content, or anything that is missing from lesson plans or video tutorials, they can report our issues on GitHub that is dedicated, learn repository over there. They can report issue over there, and other team members can have a look and try to fix them.

So that is the lesser time. If new contributor have lesser time to contribute, they can go through with that reviewing process.

[00:12:45] Nathan Wrigley: So there’s no need to commit a great deal of time. Small contributions are just as welcome as large contributions.

I’m just going to turn the conversation to you, Pooja, just for a few minutes. And I’m curious as what you get out of it. I don’t mean that in the way that it maybe sounds, but I’m keen to know why you commit so much of your time.

You mentioned at the top of the podcast recording that you’ve obviously got a business to run. You’ve got other things to do. You’ve got to generate revenue for you, and the people close to you, and all of that. So I’m just wondering why it is that you do this. What are the reasons you do it? And I suppose we should clear up the fact that getting paid is not one of them, because this is an entirely voluntary position.

[00:13:29] Pooja Derashri: Yeah. I’m volunteering all my time to the training team, I’m self sponsored. So no, I’m not getting paid from anywhere. But, as I already told you, that I was having a background of development. So, in contributing in training team, I got to know more about how content works around. How we can record a video tutorial, how we can write a lesson plan, many things around SEO.

And when we work together, other content creator experts, we learn a lot. So by contributing into training team, I learned a lot about content creation, and that newly gained skills, I can use in my business. So it’s kind of win win situation.

[00:14:13] Nathan Wrigley: That’s nice. In terms of how the team is organised, if I was to join in, and obviously you’ve described that there’s a handbook and it can probably answer many of these questions, but it’s nice to get it out into the audio. How are tasks assigned? How do the training team, and all of the things that they do, how are those jobs coordinated? Is there a piece of software that we need to be familiar with? Is this all done through Slack or something else?

In other words, if we were to join, how would we know what needed to be done? And report the things that we had done so that they could be checked and approved and so on. Basically, how does it all work in the background?

[00:14:51] Pooja Derashri: We manage our work mainly in three places. Our team blog, our Slack channel or GitHub repository. Team blog is make.wordpress.org/training. All decisions are discussed and announced in blog post to allow the widest audience to participate. The team blog is the place where our whole discussion, decisions are announced, or are posted.

And our Slack channel is where we can connect with other contributors in the team in real time. It’s where people can ask our faculty members and other experienced teammates for help, while working through some team tasks. Our training team meetings are also conducted in Slack, but decisions are not made in Slack. If an item needs a discussion or decision, we publish it as a post on the team blog, so that the general public can see the discussion and join in decision making.

And lastly, there is a GitHub repository. This is where individual tasks are tracked. These include content creation or content translation, website management related tasks, and these are all organised in a GitHub issues form.

There are currently like seven major project boards. All the content development related issues fall under this project. There is a team that administrates the related project. There is a content localisation related project where the other people are translating content in their own language. All related issues are under this project.

Then there is a content feedback, if our content has any issue, any outdated content or any spelling mistake related thing. All that type of content feedback falls under this issue, this project. So yeah, we manage all the website related issues, development related queries, and any content, new content request. All the other content that is in process, all are managed under GitHub repository.

[00:16:47] Nathan Wrigley: So there’s a variety of different tools and workflows that you need to become familiar with. But I’m guessing that there’ll be assistance with that if you decide to join. Somebody will shepherd you through that, and there’ll be some documentation, some learn materials, which will enable you to learn about contributing towards Learn and the Training Team, which is a bit meta, but there you go.

In terms of the actual topic areas that you cover, technology, and WordPress in particular, is a really fast moving piece of software. You know, it’s not glacial. The documents that you wrote a year ago, there is some chance that they will still be pertinent, but I’m imagining that in many cases, some of these materials will go out of date fairly quickly.

So I’m wondering what you could tell us about the bits and pieces that really do need a lot of attention at the moment. So for example, it might be full site editing, or something like that. But just give us an idea of how you decide what needs to be covered.

We’ve obviously talked about the way that you communicate that with the tools that you’ve got. But what topics at the moment are really in need of documentation? And that could be things that haven’t been done yet, but also things which are underway, which needs to be completed. So yeah, just give us an idea of the topic areas that are really in need of work at the moment.

[00:18:05] Pooja Derashri: Yeah, sure. There is a GitHub project where when people submitted their topic ideas, are subject matter experts looking into every topic ideas. And they finalise that, yeah, that piece of content is having a high priority and we need to focus on first.

Every month we did a 5 to 10 high priority content list. And we will ask in our every weekly meeting that, yeah, this content is something we need to do on high priority. And we ask for volunteers to help. If they found their area of expertise or their skills match with that content, then they volunteer for that particular project, and they definitely pick that particular piece of content.

So right now, we are working on 6.4 release work. That is something on our high priority. And there are a few issues that need to be completed as soon as we can. In past 6.4 release, training team was the official part of release, and Courtney PK and Courtney Robertson was the lead at that time in the release.

And they are working hard for matching our lesson plan content, or our tutorials, with the release work. So yeah, right now we are looking for people, or volunteer, who can help us in working. Those issues can be easily found on GitHub. There is a label assigned on 6.4 on GitHub. That is something we are looking for on high priority right now.

[00:19:35] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, thank you. In terms of the content that you submit, are there any kinds of content that you prefer to have? So what I mean by that is, so for example, there is video content, there’s text. But I don’t know if you also produce content in different ways. For example, I don’t know if you do audio content, the kind of thing that I’m producing with you right now. Or whether you do live webinars, which end up as a video. So that might be something that people could actually participate in. So just give us an idea of the kinds of different contents that are being created. So video, text, audio, et cetera.

[00:20:11] Pooja Derashri: Basically, there are four types of content available on learn.wordpress.org website. Lesson plans, tutorial, courses and online workshops. Lesson plan and courses are the text based format, and video tutorials and online workshops are like video format. The overall content can be used by both learners and teachers, but lesson plan is specifically created for teachers. And video tutorial, courses and online workshop are for targeted learner audience.

People who wanted to contribute in text based format, they can go to contribute into lesson plans and courses. And there are several topics submitted on our GitHub repository. They can choose from them. And if there is not, they have any specific topic in that their mind, they can reach out to us or submit their topic idea into GitHub repository, and our subject matter expert can review them, vet them, and approve them. After that they can start working on it.

Video tutorials, in the similar way, if they want to helping existing submitted topic, they can pick from there. And if they have any topic they want to create video for that. So for creating content on their own, they need video. They need to just submit their topic idea on GitHub repository. That is the basic workflow we follow.

[00:21:35] Nathan Wrigley: In terms of the quality of the materials that you put out, obviously, not everybody is equal. For example, let’s take the situation of video. Some people are just absolutely fabulous at working with video. You know, they’ve got the software, they’re familiar with it, they can make the whole presentation look really slick and all of that.

Other people may be new to writing that. Other people may not have written text too much before, and they may not have too much confidence about that. So I’m just wondering if you’ve got any guard rails around the project. You mentioned that people inspect the content that’s being offered, in order to make sure it’s of a certain quality.

What do you do with content that doesn’t live up to what you’d hoped for? Content that maybe needs to be redone, to be improved, to be rewritten. Are there processes in hand to sort of help people who are beginning, who maybe need that little bit of extra support to get them over the hurdles in order to get that content live?

[00:22:31] Pooja Derashri: Firstly, we have a detailed guide on our handbook about how you can create a tutorial. As your question is very interesting, in a few months back, Jonathan Bossenger, he was our video tutorial content creator. What he did, he just wrote some script, and it was some like a cohort kind of thing.

He wrote a script, other volunteer recorded him, recorded that script. And with collaboration of both, they created a masterpiece, and they published in a collaboration video. Jonathan’s video creation expertise helped other volunteer to master the skill.

So others volunteer also learn about the video creation. Like this, many other team members are willing to help a new contributors, or other people who are not that much expert in this video creation. But they can learn from others. There are many other video tutorials available on our Learn WordPress website.

And our mentors are also there, who help them by one on one call to guide them about what recording tool they can use, what speed they can use. And after they have completed their recording, they can submit their recording on our Slack channel or something. So other content editors then review and provide their feedback, so they can improve also.

[00:23:56] Nathan Wrigley: There are procedures in place to support and help people who may feel that their contributions need a little bit of help. You’ve given a good example there of Jonathan Bossenger willing to help people up the standard of their videos. So yeah, that’s really nice.

If you were to submit, let’s say a piece of video, are there minimum criteria in terms of things like, let’s take the topic of accessibility for example? Obviously video is available for some people, but there’s a subset of the population who are unable to access that video. Do you have guidance around things like transcriptions and things like that? If you submit certain types of content, do you have to then be mindful of things like accessibility or other topics before things get published?

[00:24:40] Pooja Derashri: We take accessibility very seriously. Every video tutorial is followed by transcript. You can find easily transcript under video.

[00:24:50] Nathan Wrigley: And so presumably, that’s another role which needs to be fulfilled. If you are able to listen to a video and transcribe it, that’s yet another portion of the work which needs to be done.

[00:25:02] Pooja Derashri: Every video tutorial is followed by transcripts. And there are three or four video editors available. They review the transcript, the video quality and what the video is going to explain to our learners, or our targeted audience. So yeah, there is a whole team and process works around.

So accessibility is not an issue in the content. And if some people find any accessibility issue under Learn WordPress content, they can easily reach out to us under our Slack channel or our GitHub issue. Anywhere they can reach out to us and ask about yeah, I’m having that certain issue and, can you please help me with that?

So we can have in our mind about, yeah, this kind of scenario is also available and we need to work on it also. There is a checklist available where we check every single point before publishing the content.

[00:25:56] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. I’m just wondering about translations as well. Now, you did touch on this a few minutes ago, but I just want to drill down on that a little bit. Presumably this work also needs to be, not just transcribed, but translated into some other languages.

And so, again, let’s just highlight that there are opportunities there if you speak a language other than English. There are opportunities to take these materials and get them taken over into a whole variety of different languages. So that’s some important work, I would guess as well, right?

[00:26:28] Pooja Derashri: Yes. Many content is already available, and for that we are looking for volunteers who can help us in translating text based content, and video content as well. So that can be reached out to wider audience, so they can easily learn in their language. That said, learning in your own language is very much easier.

[00:26:47] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, indeed. Okay, so we’ll just round it off. I’ve got a few more questions just to sort of round it off. But the first one is around the way that this content sticks around and for how long. So, for example, we mentioned earlier that some pieces of content need to be updated all the time. Full site editing would be a perfect example, you know, the language changes, the words that we use to describe certain things change, the whole UI changes from time to time.

So I’m just wondering, how much of the work is not new work, but is going back and checking that the things which are already published are in fact up to date? So just going through the materials, checking, making sure that in the situation where, I don’t know, full site editing was mentioned, it’s now changed to site editing so that everybody’s got the right data.

[00:27:35] Pooja Derashri: Yes. There are basically two processes. First process is our team faculty members, they review or they audit the content. For example 6.4, there was a dedicated two faculty members, Courtney PK and Courtney Robertson. They reviewed the issues, the features that is going to be included in 6.4.

They map with our already published content. And they filtered out like, yeah, these issues are outdated, and these lesson plans and video tutorials, we need to update. They made a list, and that issues list is available on GitHub. So from that list, our volunteers come and pick a issue to work on it.

That is the first process. And the second process, people are eager to learn about full site editing. For example, like they are learning our full site editing course, they are taking our full site editing course. And they found it like, yeah, their full site editing is now site editing. So they reported that issue in GitHub. And our faculty members reviewed it, and just gone through the course and updated the content. So that’s how the updates work for learn content.

[00:28:41] Nathan Wrigley: Obviously, if somebody was to commit a fairly large amount of their time to this, or even just a small amount of their time, it would be nice to know that your endeavors were appreciated, that the people that you were working with were a nice bunch. And I know this is a bit of a bizarre question, but I’m just keen to drill down into that a little bit.

How does that team feel to you? You know, is it a nice place to be? Are they thoughtful individuals that you would regard as friends? Because I think a lot of people in the WordPress space would regard many of the people that they collide with as friends after a period of time. And so rather than the work being a chore, oh goodness I have to go and translate this piece of Learn material, it might be that you, you know, you relish it and you enjoy it because you interact with, what have become good friends in a nice environment.

[00:29:29] Pooja Derashri: Yes. When we contribute we met so many new people, networking happens. We work together with many experts. And by the time we will make friends. If I talk about myself, I have so many friends across the globe, by just contributing to the training team.

Firstly, like Courtney Robertson, Hauwa Abashiya. With these people, I’m working with them every week or every few days. So, it was like creating a connection with them.

[00:29:57] Nathan Wrigley: Oh that’s lovely. I mean it really is, my experience at least anyway, is that many of the people that I have interacted with in the WordPress project, have become really dear friends, and it’s really nice to know that’s the case for you as well.

So there’s a lot of work to be done. There are lots of areas which need work. Lots of different skills which you can acquire, or bring to bear on this work. So I guess the next thing we need to know is, where do we, sign up? Where would be the best place to go if we’re curious about taking this further?

Pooja, I wonder if you could just, I don’t know, dig out a URL, or name a page which we could Google. Some of the good places to begin that journey.

[00:30:34] Pooja Derashri: Begin journey with Learn WordPress. You can go to make.wordpress.org/training. That is official team blog, where all the discussion happens. Under this there is a handbook page available that is a detailed step by step guide available to help you.

Another one is learn.wordpress.org website. There is content available in the video, and text format that helps you learn about the training team, and about the WordPress as well. There are good places where people can learn about the team, and they can join and contribute as well.

[00:31:10] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much. I spoke with you just before we hit record on this particular episode, and you mentioned that from the previous episode, you’d been contacted by some people who wished to communicate with you about that subject. So we’ve got this different subject.

I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind telling us where we can find you personally. If people want to speak with you directly about this and get some more knowledge about your own experience.

[00:31:33] Pooja Derashri: Yes. I’m available on Make WordPress Slack. My profile username is webtechpooja, and they can find me on Twitter. They can find my handle is Pooja Derashri. They can also find me on LinkedIn, by the same name Pooja Derashri handle.

[00:31:48] Nathan Wrigley: Well Pooja, thank you so much for talking to us today about your experience with the Learn and Training teams behind WordPress. Really appreciate you coming on the podcast and talking to us today. Thank you so much.

[00:32:00] Pooja Derashri: Thank you for having me Nathan. So I can share my journey and about the training team.Visit TechPros

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