The best way to learn a subject is to teach it

One of the many groups I'm involved with is called Shift Vegas. The goal is to shift the outsider's perception of what Las Vegas is all about. Believe it or not, casinos and strip clubs isn't all we have going. There are many sub-groups to Shift Vegas and my main area of interest is education. The edu group made a pledge to run 60 SkillShare classes by the end of the year. Though it took me a while to get rolling, I've finally stepped up and this weekend will be running the first of 3 WordPress related SkillShare classes. This one specifically will cover which plugins to use for your WordPress site and how to configure them.

For the past few weeks I've been compiling a list of plugins I like that cover a wide variety of functionality like spam cleanup, seo, contact forms and a ton more. 25 plugins in all. For the most part, these are all plugins I've used (a couple were suggestions from friends) on a regular basis. Even so, I decide to set up test installation of WordPress and walk through the process of installing each plugin from scratch, configuring it and using it. It wasn't too long before I realized something; even though I've been using most of these plugins for a long time, many of them had far more functionality than I knew!

I use WordPress every day, but for this class I took a step back and tried to look at it using the eyes of a new user. In doing so, I found a wealth of new information. I spent several extra hours digging through each plugin and really getting to know the settings pages and the functionality within. The end result being a better class for the students and a ton of extra knowledge for myself.

I'm excited for the class tomorrow. I'm sure the students will ask questions that I haven't anticipated. Just one more chance to dig deeper and keep learning. I can't wait!

[photo by mike52ad on flickr]


  1. Brandon Dove on September 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Totally agree, John. If you’re learning something for the first time, try to explain it to your spouse (or a friend) in your own words. Not only will you have to convey what you learned, you’ll probably have to define every other piece of industry jargon you use. All of which just helps to commit it all to memory. But you almost lost me when i read this line…

    “Believe it or not, casinos and strip clubs isn’t all we have going.”

    Wait, what? That was a typo, right?


    • John on September 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      It’s funny you mention explaining things to your spouse. I’ve had that experience on numerous occasions. We were driving back from WordCamp San Diego and she asked me, “What is GIT? It seemed to be every 3rd word out of every presenter’s mouth.” That ended up in a whole conversation about version tracking between multiple developers which was WAY more than she wanted to know, but had to be explained in order to get her the answer she needed.

      … and no, that was NOT a typo.

  2. Phil Simon on September 9, 2012 at 4:00 am

    No argument here, John. I’ve been teaching things to people for more than 20 years and, as a result, I’ve retained more of those things.

  3. Scott Hack on October 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Would be curious to also see the list of plugins that you decided to talk about.

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