Building Awesome: Pantheon as a Tool for Teaching

I love teaching others how to do something. In 7th grade, I was evidently the only person in our class who understood our Algebra teacher and wound up helping almost the entire class with their homework every day. I feel fortunate to have a gift for translating information so others can understand it, and that I’ve been able to continue doing so into my career. I have been teaching women how to code for the last 3 years and now also share my love of web development by training developers in my role at Pantheon.

Education Requires Tools

It is hard to teach without the right tools. In some cases, this may be textbooks or tangible objects, in my case, an important tool that has helped my students is Pantheon. I teach an Intro to WordPress class that goes over the basics of WordPress.

Previous to using Pantheon, this class included installing WordPress on a VPS I managed and assigning each student FTP credentials to an account on the server. This almost always resulted in a firewall block or security alert from the server provider because too many people were trying to access my server at one time.

It’s also really hard to offer a class that is supposed to focus on WordPress but ends up being derailed by lessons about FTP, servers, and databases. Sure, those are great skills to know, but the students in this class are there to start their own blogs or business websites and have no desire to learn deeper web development skills.

So, why is Pantheon so great for teaching?

Free Account & Sandbox Sites

It is completely free to create an account and a sandbox site. Sandbox sites include all the awesome environments like Dev, Test and Live and all environments have immediately accessible urls, allowing my students to have a site online in just a few short minutes.

Easy to Setup a New WordPress or Drupal Site

It’s incredibly simple to set up a new WordPress or Drupal site. Enter a site name, wait a few minutes, go to your site url to complete a few WordPress install questions and boom, you’re done!

Custom Upstreams: Multiple Sites from a Common Codebase

Let’s say I was teaching a class and I wanted to ensure that my students all had the same start state at the beginning of the class. Maybe I wanted them all to have the same starter theme and set of plugins. I could create a Custom Upstream and include all of those things. A Custom Upstream is basically an installation of WordPress (or Drupal) that includes all of the codebase of WordPress (or Drupal) plus all of my customized additions—like themes and plugins—still allow for their own customizations later on.

Easy Access to SFTP

Let’s say I have a more daring student that wants to dig into making code changes in their theme. They can easily access the SFTP credentials from their site dashboard. If they add an SSH key to their Pantheon account, they can even use a quick link that will automatically open their site in an SFTP client without manually entering their account credentials.

Gateway to Git

All coding changes that take place on the Pantheon platform are actually committed via Git—even if it is completed via SFTP mode. This makes Pantheon a great and approachable way to also learn Git. I have introduced my students to Git by having them install SourceTree and clone the repository that their Pantheon site provides. It’s less scary to learn Git when you have a program walking you through what’s next!

Go Live Anytime

If any of my students fall in love with the sites they build in class, they can easily push their sites live by deploying to the Live environment in Pantheon, adding a domain name, and changing their domain DNS. A lot of my students are business owners who want a simple website for their business, so this ends up being a great feature for them.

Go Forth and Teach Awesome

If you are teaching introductory WordPress or Drupal, save yourself the headache of configuring servers, accounts, and FTP credentials and use Pantheon to spin up all your students' sites in minutes.

Pantheon chalkboard  

Pantheon for Trainers & Educators
Don’t waste time setting up development environments for your next class. Instead, focus on what you love: teaching. Learn about Pantheon for Trainers—it's all free and there's no obligation.

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