039: Solving Education Issues During Covid-19 with Meg Phillips

About Meg Phillips:

Meg Phillips is a mom, marketer, and web developer. Before having children, Meg worked in apparel product development and was part of the team that launched the Soma Brand for Chico’s FAS. Since becoming a mom, Meg continues to work as a product developer focused on technology and marketing for start-up ideas. Most recently, the Covid-19 crisis inspired Meg to found SchoolListIt, the easiest way to share schoolwork on the planet. You can find Meg on Making WordPress Slack, Twitter, and Youtube with the handle @MegPhillips91.

Find Meg Phillips: SchoolListIt | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Cape Hatteras, Frisco, North Carolina 27936

Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
039: Solving Education Issues During Covid-19 with Meg Phillips

Show Notes

  • Meg has been living the education crisis with her kindergartner and third grader during the pandemic both as a parent and a web developer in open source.
  • Meg believes the open source community iterates faster, works as a team, and has a genius in diversity. Open source has a diversity of voices we wouldn’t consider otherwise.
  • She created School List It as a progressive web app using the WordPress REST API to allow students to download homework offline.
  • The reason for this web app is that in your district, 20% of children don’t have access to broadband and of the 80% who do, only 40% can afford the $10 a month plan that does not support streaming.
  • Georgia has a grant for hot spots in schools busses making progressive web apps a great solution for kids to be able to get homework downloaded on the bus.
  • Meg is entering her app in the Call for Code –  a worldwide, multi-year initiative that inspires developers to solve pressing global problems with sustainable software solutions.
  • She believes that to solve the education gap which is world wide can only be done by a community the size of the world: WordPress.
  • WordPress already works as a cross-functional group
  • Five for Future WordPress – An initiative in which companies and organizations are encouraged to contribute 5% of their resources toward WordPress development. Meg believes this can be applied to bigger problems in the world like education.
  • Data Femme – Exciting podcast for women who work with data.


Amy Masson  (00:01):

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.

Angela Bowman (00:08):

Welcome to Women in WP. I’m Angela Bowman.

Tracy Apps (00:11):

I’m Tracy Apps.

Allie Nimmons (00:13):

And I’m Allie Nimmons.

Angela Bowman (00:15):

Our guest today is Meg Phillips. Meg is a mom, marketer, and web developer. Most recently, due to the COVID-19 crisis, it inspired Meg to found School List It, the easiest way to share a schoolwork on the planet. Welcome Meg.

Meg Phillips (00:30):

Well, at least I say that. I made that up. It’s like those big [inaudble] guys where they had the best, the biggest peaches or the biggest hamburger or whatever on road. But no, I really do think it’s my ambition to be right.

Angela Bowman (00:50):

Totally. Totally. Well, as you know, since you told us you started binging through Women in WordPress we always like to start the episode by asking our guests how they got started in WordPress. Tell us about your journey.

Meg Phillips (01:06):

So I’ll tell you the good and the bad. I was a fairly well developed PHP developer. I left the corporate world when I had my first child and then I started doing PHP development. That was early on in the conversation where Joomula was…. oh I said that wrong, Joomla, it’s kind of a tongue twister, isn’t it? It was still a thing and I mean, maybe it still is a thing, but WordPress is more of a thing. But at that time people were having all these conversations about what was going to end up being the market leader. I didn’t really get into Joomla. I didn’t really adopt any content management system. I had built my own and I was just fine with PHP. And then, for the first time I needed to switch gears from just doing in-house work so I took a job with an agency and they used WordPress and that’s when I got introduced to it. And it’s funny because…they could listen to this…but anyway… The experience with the WordPress community is so inviting and so warm. I have nothing to say horrible about anybody I’ve met through the WordPress community, but the guy who introduced me to WordPress was that guy. He was like “your code sucks. You don’t know how to use this.” It was really, really mean. That was terrible and he was really a hard manager so I left that agency and went to another agency and I worked with a dear lovely genius marketer and I was in the role of the developer. And she was the marketer. We made a really great team and that’s when I really fell in love with it as a tool. I’ve used WordPress ever since for everything. So I think one of the questions you ask is, “what do you use WordPress for?”But it’s more appropriate to ask me what I don’t use it. For me it’s easy to appreciate all the things you can do with a rest API. Then you just use WordPress to do what you need it to do so what don’t you do with WordPress? That’s how I got my start. Everybody has great jobs and jobs that aren’t so great. I moved on quickly from that one.

Tracy Apps (03:29):

I had a very similar experience. I’m more of a designer but PHP works for my brain. It that makes sense to me. Java script, no.

Meg Phillips (03:42):

It’s funny. I come from a design background as well, not web design. PHP was really easy for me to pick up. This is going to sound judgemental and it’s not meant to be but too many people think of design too esoterically because really we’re technicians in so many ways. Right? So when you design a garment if you aren’t thinking about the mechanics in the drape of the fabric, or are you going to use a stretch laser or you can use a rigid lace. Is a plastic zipper appropriate, or do you need a metal one? But if you aren’t asking these questions, then you’re not a very good designer. You may have a great idea, but it’s not going to execute into a garment. So in a lot of ways as designers, yes, we love to be creative, but it’s our execution that makes us really great.

Tracy Apps (04:43):

Yeah. It’s funny because I say a lot of the same things. Someone asked me on Twitter, actually Media Temple asked me what do I like better, code or design? For me, they are exactly the same thing. When I am designing, I am designing with modular accessible code in mind. When I am designing, then I jump right into code right away to be able to finish the design and all that stuff. If you don’t know how it’s going to fit together, how can you design that?

Meg Phillips (05:19):

Right. Yeah. And so it’s funny in big garment companies, they split up the thought process into too many people and it gets watered down so much by the time it gets into the store. It’s like she had this really great conceptual idea. And she had this really great technical design idea and the product developer had this really great fabric, but then all seven of our voices at the table turned out something really middle of the road. So I think we also are great designers when we can develop that whole product journey too. Why am I talking all about design right now? I’m not in a design role.

Tracy Apps (05:59):

Once a designer, always a designer.

Allie Nimmons (06:03):

It’s such a good concept to think about making always having form and function in mind at the same time. I’ve experienced that. I have the same kind of background where I started in an artistic background and then I wanted to code, and now I’m doing all this other stuff, but I always keep that in mind; how does the form of what I’m doing complement the function of what it’s supposed to do and vice versa. I think no matter what industry you’re in, or no matter what specialty you have having form and function married to each other is an incredible value to be able to cement and move forward with. So kudos to you for that. For realizing that and moving forward with that.

Meg Phillips (06:48):

It’s funny how kids, and here I’m off on my tangent again, but kids have this inherent genius at every age. We were just having this conversation about should the boys take their bunk beds apart? I said to my son, “sometimes bunk beds have a desk underneath or some other things and you could still have a platform bed.” And he goes “a dunk bed! I could pull out this thing and Beau could fall in” and I’m like “a dunk bed?! Where did you come up with this!” But it’s what you’re saying. He had this idea that was form and function. “I could dunk my brother to wake him up in the morning!”

Tracy Apps (07:30):

Somewhere, somewhere, someday a room full of like people are going to be say, “you know, it would be a good idea….”

Meg Phillips (07:40):

A good idea to have a dunk bed. Silliness also part of my signature sunniness.

Tracy Apps (07:53):

I want to hear about this product that you are creating. This is very interesting to me right now.

Meg Phillips (08:00):

Thank you. It’s a passion project for me. I have two sons and a daughter. My daughter is one year old. And so she’s not in school, but my two sons are both in school. I have a kindergartner and I have a fourth grader. I guess now a first grader and a fifth grader, but let’s talk about this in the context of COVID-19. I’m living this education crisis with my children and it was really a light bulb moment for me. And not only as a parent, but as a web developer and specifically a web developer in Open Source. Because whether we like to think about ourselves in that way, we are the cutting edge. We iterate faster. We work as a team. We have diversity in that. We were talking before about genius in diversity. And one thing that Open Source allows us to do is include voices that have a perspective that we may never consider. One of the things I was surprised by, but in a great way, I recently met with a friend of mine. Isn’t it amazing that kids that you rode the bus with grow up to have these giant jobs. I realized I could Facebook her and say, “hey, you remember we rode the bus together.” I’m very honored that she took a whole hour with me. Her role is being one of the few women, not just women, but people, I should include everybody, but a person in Georgia whose job is to work with special projects. She’s in education technology for the state and for her county. She asked me “what is this thing? You said it was a progressive web app.” I said, “well, you know, it’s a progressive web app!” She let me get through my whole pitch and then she goes back and says, “I really want you to explain to me what does this mean?” And you know, here’s her dilemma. And I think that you guys will really appreciate this. I don’t know if you will appreciate it as much as I do, because although I’m very light in hue, I grew up in a very diverse community from all perspectives, right? So we have a very rural and lower income area where I grew up. Our county is the largest in Georgia geographically. Let’s say in the whole county, 20% of children in our county don’t have access to broadband. There is no broadband. There’s no ISP. My girlfriend has this county to deal with, and all of a sudden COVID happens, right? So 20% of her children, even if she wanted to do, they have no broadband. And then of the other 80%, only 40% of those can afford the $10 plan. But the $10 plan doesn’t support streaming. I’m not going to cry, but imagine how my girlfriend’s dealing with this, because these are the children we’re having a conversation about, right? That they are isolated in a way that when school shuts down, it’s not acceptable for them. Right? And so when I started talking about progressive web apps, she’s like “slow down and explain this to me, what do you mean? They don’t have to have a connection?” Right, because it’s a progressive web app. So it downloads. And then it updates. But in between time they can work offline if there’s a service worker and then her light bulbs went off. It’s easy for those of us working in Open Source and using these tools to forget that in many industries where proprietary software is the thing people don’t know, right? Because these things are Open Source. They’re MIT licensed. They don’t trickle down into the paid services as quickly as we might imagine that they do. So that was a term that she never had considered. And praise the Lord! I am so proud of myself because if School List It does nothing else she’s already gotten a grant to put hotspots on school buses. She now knows to ask for a progressive web app that her kids can download on the school bus. They can download that week’s assignments, and then they can go home and use them. They have a Chromebook for every kid. That’s an initiative that they already have. I feel like I’ve already accomplished something even though I have five users. School List It is really designed to pay attention to that collaboration and in a way that prioritizes extensibility and accessibility. I am putting School List It for the data.org Challenge and I’m also entering Call for Code. Now the whole WordPress community will know if I lose, but if I lose, I’m just one of the thousands of other developers who were brave enough to try. With data.org what I really would love to do is address the education gap, right? And if we take it globally, it is really overwhelming in any context, but it’s extremely overwhelming on a global context. But if we look at it just in the United States there’s a link between socioeconomic class and the education gap. We can form a lot of hypotheses about it. But my hypothesis is that if lower expectations are set, children have been proven to perform to lower expectations. So if there’s no mentor involved, no parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, if there’s no one who sets high expectations for you in your life you don’t perform to high expectations. It’s very hard to do that, to think of yourself as an achiever, if no one thinks you’re ever going to be like that. There I go again, don’t make me cry. Is that from my favorite movie ever? Jerry Maguire! I’m not going to cry.

Angela Bowman (15:44):

I had that experience. My daughter was in middle school. There were some kids struggling in her math class and the teacher was not a very good, would you say she didn’t have good classroom management skills? That would be the diplomatic way to put it. So there were several boys who were really struggling and they were Hispanic and with parents working a couple jobs. Some of them couldn’t read the English for the homework. One of the boys was failing and I just can’t even remember how I got involved. Oh, I know what it was. My daughter was complaining about having a hard time in the class. And so I went in to sit in on the class and see what was happening. And then I saw what the behavior problems were. And so I took these three boys to the back of the room with me. This is seventh grade math. I sat down with these three boys and talked to them and I just said, “hey, what’s going on?” We started looking at some of the homework and I brought in things like pattern blocks to teach them fractions. And I really encouraged them. And I said, “you know what? You guys are really smart. You know this stuff, you shouldn’t be failing, you should be like doing really well.” And there was one boy in particular who really was failing. And so I went into that classroom every day before I went to work, I had a full time job. So I would go in at 7:30 in the morning before I went to my full time job and hang out with this boy. It was often the one boy, sometimes there’d be two. Sometimes there’d be three. They just wanted to hang out with me. I’d bring in manipulatives and stuff like that. And I really said, “you guys get it.” They just didn’t have anyone at home that could take that time to sit down with them and tell them they could do this. They’re super smart. I know they had this, they just had to do the homework and turn it in.

Meg Phillips (17:42):

You didn’t have to go to the school. Imagine if you didn’t need to go to the school.

Angela Bowman (17:46):

Yes. To be able to mentor them in VR. Back then, we didn’t even really have that kind of internet even.That was a long time ago. But he ended up getting a B+ in the class. He got an award for being the most improved student. They were going to flunk him the grade and here he was, a brilliant, really smart kid. And the whole problem was classroom management and not having anyone else to help him. And that’s where I feel like kids fall through the cracks.

Meg Phillips (18:19):

We can’t vilify teachers because they have so much going on. You know, it’s a big class. Most classrooms are 30 students at least to one teacher. We’re not even talking about the teachers not being able to manage it. Who could manage it is the question. But you know, what I would love to see is a more collaborative approach, right? So that someone like yourself, let’s say you were his neighbor, right? And with stuff that we know accessibility-wise and some of the more proprietary apps right? I’m not really aiming at being a learning management app or a student information system. I just want to find a way to grab all that public data, decouple it from the secure data. And let’s tell people what is due when. It’s a simple concept, but it’s not being done and it’s not being done in a way that’s accessible. Maybe that young man had people in his life who had that been employing Watson’s Texts to Voice and automatically translating into a natural language Spanish just with a the click of a button. Maybe his auntie or his uncle or his mom could have helped him with that math. Right? So we have technology that can help in these situations. If these schools let us participate we can do it in a way that is thoughtful.

Tracy Apps (19:58):

I think one of the things that you point that out is that we do have the technology, we have these tools, which requires a kind of knowledge when you’re someone who creates something. You understand the technology, you understand how these things go together, but you also need to be aware of things like there’s 20% of children who don’t have broadband. There’s other examples like this in the tech world, especially if you’re in different areas of expertise. I’m in user experience. So if you start designing a product and you don’t have your finger on the pulse of the users out there, you can be designing something that only works great under specific circumstances. I made this and it works great under these circumstances, but those circumstances aren’t something that is a reality for the people in my audience. Understanding that is huge.

Allie Nimmons (20:52):

They say admitting that you have a problem is the first step, right? Isn’t that the first step of designing anything or building anything, “what are you trying to solve?” There are a lot of people sometimes thinking, “Oh, I had a great idea for a thing. I’m just going to make it! And it’s cool!” That’s cool. That’s fun for you,

Tracy Apps (21:10):

How many corporations throw a lot of money at things like that?

Allie Nimmons (21:17):

Yes at this new shiny thing. We have all of this power at our fingertips, right? To create these amazing things but what can we do if we just decided, okay, there’s a problem. And how can we apply WordPress or Open Source or whatever it is we have to that specific problem?

Meg Phillips (21:38):

That’s what’s great about data.org. Take the time to watch the three webinars that they put online to challenge people and motivate developers and data scientists. They use the term wicked problem. I love that because the education gap is a wicked problem. It’s not easy to wrap our brains around what drives this gap. We don’t know why it’s there. It’s not because teachers in schools are trying to educate some kid differently than the other kids. But we can make guesses to those questions. We can take that data and then we can use the scientific method to match back and say, “okay, did we achieve a goal even if we only tackle 1%? How many kids is 1%? Right? I could quote every first lady and spout all their sayings, but it does take a village. I’m sorry, but then there’s also leave no child left behind. Right? So I could go on both sides of the aisle and agree with every single one of them, because I believe firmly in both of those sentiments. Right. So I’m on both ends of the spectrum. My kindergartner is really struggling to learn to read, and that’s really hard for me. Right. Because I’m that girl, right. I always did the best in class. It’s very condescending to assume someone’s intelligence because of their education or the circumstances they were raised in. Right? So my friend I told you about, who’s an educator in Georgia? She has this very diverse district. One of the things that she brought to my attention is that the text to voice is not only applicable in cases of a language barrier, but also in cases where grandma is the mentor and she can’t read. I stopped on that because that’s hard for us to accept it. That doesn’t make grandma stupid. It makes grandma a product of her circumstance. She wants her grandson to succeed and she can help him do that with text and voice.

Angela Bowman (24:04):

I have raised five children and they’re all adults. And I will tell you from my infinite wisdom that I have now from this experience do not worry about your kindergartener and reading. Just read to your kindergartner, make sure you’re reading, reading, reading, reading, because they’re building vocabulary. It often happens between first and second grade and depending on their age too. But it just happens. My stepson was not into the reading thing. And we were really concerned but then suddenly he was reading novels by third grade. It does take time for some kids and we have this artificial sense of it has to happen on this particular schedule. Which is pretty high expectations. My granddaughter was reading more in kindergarten, but she’s a different kind of kid, you know? And so every kid gets that thing. Sometimes they’re reading, but they don’t want to let you know. They’re not passionate about it yet. So it does take a little bit of time, but it will happen. So don’t, don’t worry.

Meg Phillips (25:21):

I hope so!

Angela Bowman (25:21):

Just lay that one aside, I give you my blessing. But one thing I do want to ask you about is for the women and men and everyone listening to this podcast, can you explain very basically when people run their Google Lighthouse report and they get that progressive web app score, in simple language, what is a progressive web app? How does that apply in WordPress? And do we need to worry about that score that we get in Google Lighthouse?

Meg Phillips (25:56):

I think you need to be worrying about that Google Lighthouse score. We need to be thinking about that. In a short and simple answer, progressive about is not a technology. It is a specification. So just like big Mac indicates a certain number of ingredients on your hamburger, progressive web app indicates a certain set of standards, just like an ISO standard in engineering. There’s a web page on Google. If you Google the progressive web app standards, you get a bullet list and it’s in really simple language. I am able to share that link and I’ll share it with you for you to share with your audience. My educator friend thought this is perfect because she can take the list to a board meeting. And every board member is going to understand, and the light bulb is going to go off for them too. When you have a situation where mobile data is a concern or there’s not good broadband access, you want to talk about can we use a service worker? Is a react app the thing we need? In most circumstances with your average marketing website for WordPress you don’t need to deploy that buy you do need to pay attention to your Lighthouse score. Those two things don’t go hand in hand. The one can be good without it being a progressive web app. Did I answer your question?

Angela Bowman (27:32):

Yes. I teach SEO and I’m always running Google Lighthouse, but I don’t know totally how to explain progessive web apps and it’s not technically part of my class. And so I just kind of brush over it.

Meg Phillips (27:53):

I think Google does a great job of explaining it themselves.

Angela Bowman (27:57):

That’s good to know.

Meg Phillips (27:58):

I think the list includes seven points and it has to meet all seven of those to be considered a progressive web app. It’s not what you build and how you build it. It’s how the browser interprets it. So the browser’s going to behave differently when it encounters a website that meets all this criteria. That’s another thing to think about is that it’s also similar to marketing when we talk about who is the audience. In this case, your audience is the browser. And if you meet the standards of progressive web app, your audience is going to treat you differently.

Tracy Apps (28:39):

I like that explanation. That makes a lot of sense to me. We were talking about this a little bit earlier when we were talking about differing circumstances. The education system today is rough. How do you write a test to test a fish, a monkey and a giraffe about how well can they climb this tree? The fish is going to fail. With technology these days, and maybe because I’m in tech, but I see this as like a really big opportunity. If we have people passionate this we can fix this gap because there is a huge gap and it’s getting wider. And especially now that everyone is in quarantine and realizing everything’s going to be online. Everything’s going to be streaming. We’re widening the gap even more like you’ve explained. I don’t know. What is your approach at how to create an equalizer like that?

Meg Phillips (29:59):

Can I just use two words and I’m not trying to play to my audience, I swear to God, but Open Source. We have to get this community on this. And I don’t even mean just Open Source in general. I’m sorry, but we need WordPress on this now. And I’m sorry to whoever is listening, but I have to share that sentiment because we are uniquely positioned to solve this issue. So I am out there on data.org. I’m out there at Call for Code simply to get this community excited about what we can do for the world. And it’s going to take all of us because we’re at 38%. We’re in every country. We run that whole gauntlet of diversity. It’s only this community, in my opinion, that can tackle this challenge because it’s complex. When we talk about it only within my home state of my little region in my little country it’s complex. But let me tell you, when we take that problem and we magnify it across the globe, across cultural barriers, across governmental barriers, across language barrier, the gap is wide and it’s even scarier, right? And a whole bunch of people in an American corporation thinking in technology can’t solve that problem. It’s only a community the size of the world that can stop that. At the end of the day, I had this awesome meeting with an IBM engineer. They have mentors and they set you up. I felt kind of scared because I think there’s all these genius MIT people applying. And he’s says “don’t feel that way because if you present it as a To Do List they will accept it as a To Do List. Present it as something that contains the world.” And it’s the same thing we were talking about with our kids, right? If I tell you the child “you’re an, A student,” then you know what, you’re an A student! Because you believe it, and being an A student comes from your heart, not from your brain, right. It comes from your hard work, just like on the tennis court or on the sailing team, it’s in your heart. It’s not in your mind, it’s not in your body. There are limitations here and there, but we’re talking about the mass of the children in the world are all blessed with ability and let’s learn to celebrate that diversity. I don’t mean to keep going back to this conversation. It’s just one of the things I’m working on with this issue. I have all these passions right in this particular arena, but one of those is particularly in the WordPress world. We have learned to form cross functional groups, right? We are a cross functional group. So if you go on to…oh my brain….

Tracy Apps (33:33):

Five for five?

Meg Phillips (33:33):

Five for something! If you go on to that part of the WordPress.org site, there are the groups where you can find where your talent is most effective in. I feel like we do the opposite when we communicate with our kids, right. We tell them to sit in a classroom of people who are in the same level reading and people who are in the same age bracket as you. And instead of saying, “let’s form a cross functional team and work on this thing. Who has the talent in the reading and who has the talent in the math and who has the talent in empathy?” We can begin to tell children you have value and it’s different than my value, but we both have value. There are technologies out there like Call for Code is an IBM project. I’m talking a lot about how we use these technologies we’ve developed for marketing to help us help teachers better connect with their students and have these conversations with their children. For example let’s do a project about who in the class feels like their talent is empathy and who in the class thinks their talent is engineering. We all have that one thing. Right? It can change throughout our life, right? So I’m not always the empathy person, and you’re not always the math person, because that changes as we mature and as we develop. If we teach children to think about themselves in that way and compare without measuring, I think we can teach them to naturally migrate into cross functional teams and build more interesting things.

Tracy Apps (35:43):

That type of thinking removes competition. It shouldn’t be collaborative versus the competitive. The world needs more of that. And don’t apologize for your “we are the world” speech. I want to put some inspirational music behind it because I think you’re right. More than a quarter of the internet knows that What you’re saying is together I bring value, you bring value, they bring value. Everyone is bringing some different kind of value. You’re right. This a problem is too big and wide for a small team. So I fully support that team.

Allie Nimmons (36:42):

A lot of what you’re describing, Meg actually reminds me a lot of, as far as the way of teaching kids, with value child centric, independent centric mindset, a lot of like the Montessori method, which is not taught everywhere. It’s usually taught in more, and I might be wrong about this and please let me know if I am, but I believe it’s taught in more expensive schools. I was taught that and I went to private school when I was small. When I went into public school I thought, why are we acting like monkeys, throwing poop on the wall!? What’s going on!?

Meg Phillips (37:27):

I went to public school and I’m like “Monti-hoary-who!?” Sit down, shut up and do your work, what!?

Allie Nimmons (37:27):

It’s the same thing that kind of thing Tracy was saying about how do you test a monkey and a giraffe and a fish? How do we teach the global population of children when there’s 18,000 different teaching methods and teaching styles, and you have kids who move and go to a different school. And now they’re in a different teaching style. What does that do to their little brains and the way that they think about themselves? It’s so hard to solve a problem like the educational system, when there’s problems nested within those problems, nested within those problems. It’s such a scary thing for anyone to tackle.

Meg Phillips (38:20):

And you know I’m not saying I can tackle it.

Allie Nimmons (38:23):

But you are. You’re starting to. You’re doing your part.

Angela Bowman (38:23):

I’m starting the conversation, to get some really smart people thinking about how as a community, we might be uniquely qualified to tackle this problem,

Tracy Apps (38:41):

Which is a very big portion of this, putting this into the works.

Allie Nimmons (38:50):

And that’s what Open Sources is right? WordPress is not one person. It is everybody doing their little bit and contributing their little bits here and there to build something greater. You are tackling the problem. You are taking it on the bit that you know how to do. And the bit that you feel passionate about, nobody can ask any more of you than that. Nobody can ask any more of anyone than that.

Meg Phillips (39:13):

Thank you. I want to go back to one of the questions you asked, because I think there’s a technical answer to that. And let me explain, because I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and I’ve done a lot of research into it. If we combine some of the AI technologies like Natural Language Processing, and there’s another one that’s like, SS something, something…I will give you that link so someone in our community who might be smarter than me, can actually research what it means and help me out on my data.org proposal, which is doing five days. It can analyze all of the texts that any one child has ever put into the system. And then it can scrape your social media and intuit what your interests are. So without a teacher having list that he likes baseball and he likes hockey. And he likes Harry Potter books without anybody ever having to data entry, this system can say, “this kid’s interested in fantasy baseball and hockey.” I could envision a solution where the teacher could say for this week, we’re studying the state standard for X and this AI technology can go out and scrape learning content and match it to that student’s interests. And then every student in her classroom gets served a different set of content. That’s going to not only teach them to read, but also speak to that excitement about reading, which is what Angela was talking about in the beginning, right? When it clicks is when they fall in love with reading.

Allie Nimmons (41:01):

I love that. And I really love that you told that story because I was thinking about something when Angela was talking about that Here is a quick anecdote that’s not about me but I’m just going to tell this story. My mom at one point was tutoring two of my little cousins. They were in fourth or fifth grade. And they were really, really struggling with reading. They were brothers, they are brothers. They were going through the books that they were given in school. And they were just absolutely super, super struggling, not picking it up, not wanting to do it. And finally, my mom was asked “what do you want to do? What do you like? What would you rather be doing?” And they were both really into cars. And so she went out and she got like car magazines and they sat down and they read car magazines together. And I’m sure they didn’t even really know what they were talking about as far as the mechanics of the cars, but they got so excited to have these car magazines that they felt like were picked out just for them. And so I totally see where that comes from and it does totally absolutely work. And I love the idea of being able to use an AI, even if it’s not scraping their social media, but having the kids sit down and do a form of all these things that they think are fun. and have them select them and run with it that. I think that is such a cool idea. It’s so like Star Trek, futuristic. Awesome. But it makes it sound more fun for them.

Meg Phillips (42:34):

It’s not the future it’s here.

Allie Nimmons (42:36):

But it’s just the idea of it being automated. It just pops in with this custom plan. And it reminds me of the holodeck on The Enterprise. It’s just whatever you want to do, but it’s secretly educational. I’ve never even like thought of that system being automated before. That’s so cool.

Tracy Apps (42:59):

I want to make all of these things.

Angela Bowman (43:02):

We could just talk about this all afternoon and it has just been the most amazing episode Meg. I am so excited you’ve been on. And I think what is amazing is this is the first time I think we’ve ever taken WordPress out of the box and, and really said, “what else can we do with what we built with WordPress in terms of our community and our systems and stuff.” It gives me goosebumps. I love that. I do want to do a shout out to a new podcast that I discovered called Data Demme that’s D-A-T-A-F-E-M-M-E. And they just had their July 12th episode, which was just was two days ago. They had Math Against All Odds. And they’re talking about how to solve real world problems with data. It’s underlying concepts of reproducibility and representation for marginalized groups. So I think we could bring in a lot of people. Women in WP is now following the woman who created this podcast on Twitter. I’ll put that in the show notes. I’ll tweet it out to you about her to check that out.

Meg Phillips (44:11):

Yeah. Get me on that!

Angela Bowman (44:14):

It’s a really cool podcast if you’re a data geek. I love all this initiative and please tell our audience how they can find you and find your app.

Meg Phillips (44:26):

So it’s meant to have two “L’s” but now it has one. I was very kindly constructively advised I needed to put the second “L” in. I will be doing that when it has direct releasing. Right now it has one “L” so it’s meant to be School List It.com. I am Meg Phillips 91, and I am Meg Phillips 91 everywhere. And it’s not becauseI was born in 1991.

Angela Bowman (44:57):

She was.

Meg Phillips (44:58):

It’s just the one that Google assigned to me.

Tracy Apps (45:06):

It has deep, deep meaning for you.

Angela Bowman (45:08):

It’s your agent number. She’s Agent 91!

Meg Phillips (45:15):

I don’t know. I think I was the 91st Meg Phillips on Google. So yes I’m Meg Phillips 91 on Twitter and on Gmail and just in WordPress, on Slack, all of the different channels, you’ll find me. I try to stay consistent to that. So it’s likely you can find me at Meg Phillips 91 on whatever channel.

Tracy Apps (45:38):

And we’ll pick your brain forever.

Angela Bowman (45:41):

And Allie Nimmons I just want to thank you so much for being on the show today as our guest co-host.

Allie Nimmons (45:47):

Thanks so much.

Angela Bowman (45:47):

Since Amy couldn’t be here. I hope you join us many more times. It’ll help us take a little vacation. We’ll be all connecting online. Thank you so much.

Tracy Apps (46:01):

Thank you.

Amy Masson  (46:01):

Thank you for listening. Interested in being on the show, sign up on our website, women in wp.com. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and join our Facebook group to have conversations with other women in WordPress.

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