Monday, October 4, 2021
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM (CDT)

Learn about how the Modern Language Association team developed a flexible, powerful framework that enables quick design, development, and deployment of modern Wordpress sites as a response to COVID-19. In the past year, the MLA created and used this framework to help our members organize and manage online courses, spin up landing pages and microsites, redesign our flagship MLA style site, and improve the development of future web applications.

When COVID-19 abruptly shut down classrooms all across the world in spring 2020, professors and teachers everywhere had to adapt quickly to remote instruction. At the Modern Language Association, we realized we had a duty to our members to help facilitate this transition by providing resources and tools to get an online class up and running quickly. In a matter of days, we built and launched MLA Learning Space, a Wordpress theme available for free on Humanities Commons. In seconds, any instructor could spin up their own Wordpress site, complete with calendar, syllabus, class comments, and a file repository.

After launching Learning Space, we realized the power of such a framework, so we further developed it as a product in and of itself, and MLA Theme Kit was born. Built on top of the Timber framework, JSON-based configuration files, and integration with our atomic, component-based design system, MLA Theme Kit allows users to easily create shortcodes, widgets, and queries, front-end templates, and the option to add powerful customization such as GraphQL queries. Since developing the framework, the MLA has used it to create simple, quickly deployed forms for members, a site used to promote and register for webinars, and a redesign of our flagship style website, the MLA Style Center.

In this session, you will learn more about the design and development process, how we integrated our atomic design library, how the framework has helped enable instructors and students to connect online, and what we've learned about developing software in a highly dynamic, quickly changing educational landscape.