Jim Luke Speaker Interview



I’m a WordPress addict and I’m fanatical about technology in higher education. I’ve been teaching economics at Lansing Community College for the last 13 years, including a lot of online teaching. My enthusiasm for innovation in college teaching and WordPress led me to found a non-profit organization, Malartu Inc, to help all college faculty create their own WordPress sites and gain their online voice.

Before getting into teaching, I spent 25 years in corporate strategic planning and my own consulting firm with a specialty in emerging technologies.

Jim will be presenting “Building a Community of Academics Using Multi-Sites, Multi-Networks, and BuddyPress” at 2:30pm in the Henderson Room.

Why do you use WordPress?

WP gives me a voice in global conversations and it saves time. It’s my force multiplier. It enables me to reach and teach students (so far on 5 continents – I’m looking at you Australia & Antarctica!). I use it to comment on economics and trends in higher education with my blog. I use WP to manage my teaching resources and portfolio. I use WP to teach my online and regular classes (which helps cut textbook costs). And now I’m using it to provide other faculty with a voice and tools too.

When and how did you start using WordPress?

In Dec 2008 I started econproph.com on WordPress.com and I started an experimental self-hosted faculty site at jimluke.com on shared hosting from A2 Hosting. The experiment took off.

What would you tell someone to convince them to attend a WordCamp?

It’s very affordable. It’s real people. The speakers, even the national ones, are all highly approachable. It’s a real community.

Tell us about something awesome you’ve experienced at a WordCamp in the past.

I got speak one-on-one and run ideas past Andy Nacin (WP lead developer) and Matt Mullenweg (the founder!)

Give an example of a cool WordPress project you have worked on recently.

The project I’m going to talk about: malartu.org, a multi-network install for higher ed faculty. We’re just getting started now, but the vision is for a WordPress-centric econ-system of tools, plugins, themes, and services for higher ed faculty teaching needs.

What is your favorite part of WordCamps?

Networking and happiness bars.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?

Read “The WordPress Philosophy”. Take it to heart. (see the Codex)

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related.

I’m a former national champion Collegiate debater and I used to race cars for a year a long time ago.

Name someone in the WordPress community who inspires you.

Jim Groom at Univ Mary Washington

What has been your biggest WordPress related accomplishment to date?

Helping improve the success rate in my online classes by 20% and reducing textbook costs so 1,500 students could succeed at college Principles of Economics during the past 3 years.

How have WordCamps impacted you and your business in the past?

I’ve learned what’s possible at WordCamps and that’s inspired me to move on and solve bigger and bigger problems.

Fill in the blank for other attendees: “If you __________ then you should come talk to me at WordCamp”.

Work in higher education or you want to contribute to helping higher ed become more effective, accessible, and cheaper.

What should someone learn before attending your talk at WordCamp Ann Arbor?

They should have at least a passing familiarity with how a basic WordPress site works – the concepts of posts vs. pages and media uploads. Beyond that, just an interest in either higher ed or some community applications of WP.

What is your favorite WordPress related resource?

WordPress.org of course!

Where can we find you online?

jimluke.com (bio, resources, presentations, news, syllabi)
econproph.com (econ & higher ed commentary)
econproph.net (my online courses)
malartu.org (the non-profit I run)

Twitter: @econproph
LinkedIn: James Luke