Class Blogs: The Basics

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Millions of users worldwide suggest that the WordPress platform is not just for the web elite. If you’ve never published a course website or blog, the following summaries and WordPress.tv podcasts should help you get comfortable with the tools and terminology.

#1 Posting Announcements

#2 Adding Course Documents

#3 Edit Content Quickly

#4 Organizing Course Content

#5 Sharing Links to External Sites

 

#1  Posting Announcements

Since your class blog is a regularly updated stream of content, most new content is best shared as Posts. A Post adds new content to the top of your blog with a date stamp. (*In WordPress, Posts are different than Pages which we’ll get to next.)

Posts are the easiest way to:

  • send students regular announcements
  • post assignment sheets or changes to the schedule
  • share slides or images used in class
  • direct students to media they need to view before next time

To make a post from the Dashboard, go to the Posts section of the left menu and select Add New. There you’ll find a text editor with basic editing tools. Advanced users may choose to peek at the actual HTML code of posts from time to time, but you’ll spend most of your time in the Visual tab when writing.

How-To Podcasts:

Writing and Publishing a Post

Saving a Draft

Post at a Later Date

For more information on Posts, start with the WordPress Codex.
 

#2  Adding Course Documents

Once you’re comfortable with adding Posts to your blog, adding Pages will be simple. In WordPress, Pages are undated content more like individual web pages: the best way to present content students need access to all semester long. Instead of getting buried in the day-to-day stream of posts, a Page can be accessed from a link in your blog’s sidebar or another post or page.

A couple ways to use pages:

  • add a list of external podcasts, web links, or apps
  • post grading rubrics or assignment sheets
  • archive your syllabus and reading lists
  • add an About the Prof page with contact info or links

To make a page from the Dashboard, go to the Pages section of the left menu and select Add New. Editing Pages works just like editing Posts, with a couple exceptions. Since Pages don’t have tags or categories, these two boxes are missing. Instead Pages can be organized hierarchically, with parent pages and sub-pages or “child” pages.

How-To Podcasts:

Adding a Page

Adding the Pages Widget

Setting Posts as Private

For more information on Pages, start with the WordPress Codex.
 

#3  Edit Content Quickly

For users looking for a quick way to begin editing their own blog, each blog post or page offers its own Edit link just below the title taking you directly to the text editor in the Dashboard. Conveniently, the edit link is only visible if you have editing access to the content.edit

One other option for editing content quickly once you’re already in the Dashboard is the Quick Edit option found in the Posts and Pages listing. Since Quick Edit doesn’t need to load the complete content of an item, this is the fastest way to add tags and categories or schedule or publish a draft. Just look for the link as you move your mouse over the title of the post you want to edit.

Finally, from Dashboard view, you may sometimes want to make the same change to several different posts or pages. Bulk editing is easy from the Posts or Pages listing. Just select the posts you want to edit and select Edit from the drop-down menu above the listing.

How-To Podcast:

Using Quick Edit and Bulk Edit

 

#4  Organizing Course Content

Another distinction important for new users is the difference between Tags and Categories. Every post to your class blog can be organized using one or both to help students find what they need quickly. Items that belong to more than one group can also receive multiple tags or categories.

A couple ways to use tags and categories:

  • access all posts this semester on a certain topic
  • group all announcements about a particular assignment
  • identify themes that cut across chapters or units
  • classify the type of post (announcement, for the test, media resource, etc)


How-To Podcasts:

Adding Categories and Tags to Posts

Managing Categories After the Fact

Adding the Categories Widget

 

#5  Sharing Links to External Sites

For quick access to textbook companion sites or web archives you’ll access throughout the semester, you may want to add a Links list to your sidebar.

First go to the Links section of the left menu to add new links. Each link can include its own category and short description if you need ways to organize or annotate your list of links. Once you have several links created, add the Links widget to the sidebar to make them visible on your main blog homepage.

One other way to list content from external sites is through RSS feeds. Many websites now offer RSS listings of updates or new content as its added. These RSS feeds can then be displayed on other websites, like your class blog, to offer students links to external resources at-a-glance.

How-To Podcasts:

Arranging Links into Categories

Adding the Links Widget

Adding an RSS Widget