Introduction to WordPress

What is a “blog”?

From WordPress:

“Blog” is an abbreviated version of “weblog,” which is a term used to describe web sites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. A blog is a frequently updated, personal website featuring diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects.

Many blogs focus on a particular topic, such as web design, home staging, sports, or mobile technology. Some are more eclectic, presenting links to all types of other sites. And others are more like personal journals, presenting the author’s daily life and thoughts.

Here’s a quick video to help explain things visually: Intro to Blogging

Generally speaking (although there are exceptions), blogs tend to have a few things in common:

  • A main content area with articles listed chronologically, newest on top. Often, the articles are organized into categories.
  • An archive of older articles.
  • A way for people to leave comments about the articles.
  • A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a “blogroll”.
  • One or more “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files.”

Some helpful articles:

Introduction to Blogging

First Steps with WordPress

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The following information is here to get you started, and serves only as a brief reference. If you’d like to participate in training sessions with Brandon, please sign up in the faculty tower.

Ready to get blogging?

  1. Please visit the link that was sent out via email, and log in with your username and password.
  2. Immediately go to your profile, which is located at the top of your screen (probably says “Howdy, ____”) OR you can go to the left side of the screen and under the dropdown menu for ‘Users’, you’ll find “Your Profile”.
  3. At the bottom of your profile be sure to change your password to something you’ll remember!

The Dashboard:

  • Control center of the blog – the “brain”, where most aspects of the blog are controlled and the magic happens. Various tabs may be accessed via the left sidebar. We’ll break these down briefly:

Settings:

  • General: change things like date/format, email address, blog title, time zone
  • Writing: you may with to change the “size of the post box” to something larger like ’20’. I personally find 10 lines of text too cramped when writing posts.
  • Reading: you may decide if you’d prefer for the viewer to first land on a ‘page’ or ‘posts’. More about that later.
  • Discussion: readers may comment on your posts and offer feedback via the commenting box. I highly recommend checking the box: “An administrator must always approve the comment”, for the first few weeks. Any comments posted will therefore first be received by your email account for approval / denial.
  • Delete Blog: yeah, just don’t click this one. Please.

Posts:

  • Let’s get started by clicking ‘Add New’
  • First add a title representing the content of your post (the post being the article itself). It’s best to be accurate and concise with your title, as this is what will help viewers and search engines pick up on your posts.
  • Add content to your post; the buttons above the writing area contain various formatting options, adding hyperlinks, and methods for posting media such as images, sound, and video. Let’s save that for another time.
  • Once finished, you may wish to add this post to a category. Very briefly, categories help to organize your site for quick access to information. A nice explanation may be viewed here.
  • At the bottom of the page, you will see an option for “Allow Comments on this Post” – you may check this off if you do not wish to permit others to comment on your particular post.
  • Click “Publish” on the right side of your screen, and you’re all set!

Publish: your blog post is now live for all the world to view.

Draft: periodically the blog post is saved automatically, but if you are not yet finished writing the post and wish to save it for later, use draft.

Preview: click to view the post as it will be seen publicly, but without it actually being live on the web.

Understanding “pages”:

In WordPress, you can write either posts or pages. When you’re writing a regular blog entry, you write a post. Posts automatically appear in reverse chronological order on your blog’s home page. Pages, on the other hand, are for content such as “About Me,” “Contact Me,” etc. Pages live outside of the normal blog chronology, and are often used to present information about yourself or your site that is somehow timeless — information that is always applicable. You can use Pages to organize and manage any amount of content.

What Pages Are:

What Pages are Not:

  • Pages are not Posts, nor are they excerpted from larger works of fiction. They do not cycle through your blog’s main page. (Note: You can include Posts in Pages by using the Inline Posts Plugin.)
  • Pages cannot be associated with Categories and cannot be assigned Tags. The organizational structure for Pages comes only from their hierarchical interrelationships, and not from Tags or Categories.
  • Pages are not files. They are stored in your database just like Posts are.

To wrap things up, I hope this post will help serve as a brief introduction to the world of WordPress, but please feel free to drop by the workshop sessions I’ll be running for more hands-on training. We may be offering a follow up session for more in-depth training and delving into the possibilities that WP may provide. Please feel free to also contact me via email at any time for quick questions. I’m here to help!

Exporting WordPress Blogs

It’s a good practice to periodically export your WordPress blog. This will allow you to maintain a copy of your posts, tags, categories, and comments. This is especially vital if you’ll be leaving ISM or would like to import your blog into a new account. The screencast video below will demonstrate how to export your blog.

Should you have any questions or difficulty, please contact Brandon.


Embedding Google Forms into WordPress

To embed a Google Form (such as the teacher feedback forms) into WordPress, please follow these steps.

1. From your Google Form, click on “More Actions” and “Embed” as seen below:

Embedding Google Forms

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2. This will bring up a window with the embed code. Copy this code:

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 11.11.02 AM

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3. Go to your WordPress Dashboard, and create a new blog post as usual. We’re going to click on the plugin (icon) for Prezi shown here:

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 11.11.39 AM-2

4. You’ll see a window pop up. The “Prezi URL” is where you’ll paste the code. However, this is where it gets tricky. You will only paste the content located between the quotation marks – see the text in orange. The rest can be deleted. Example:

If our code is: iframe src=”https://spreadsheets.google.com/embeddedform?formkey=dGlDV1plRXBoRWdLeDQ0RkYtb3kyd0E6MA” width=”760″ height=”3969″ frameborder=”0″ marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″>Loading…</iframe

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 11.12.51 AM

You can then set the custom size. I recommend a width of 600px and a height of 800px.

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5. You should be ready to publish. If, upon publishing, you see mistakes or the form does not appear properly, most likely the code was not pasted correctly. Please leave a comment or email me if you need help.

Ning will no longer offer free, ad supported services

ning_logo1Jen Smith pointed out an important article this morning pertaining to Ning. According to CNET, they are, “cutting 40 percent of its staff and axing its free, ad-supported service.” This is bad news for many of us who have been involved with Ning for years.

If you’re wondering what Ning is:

“Ning is the social platform for the world’s interests and passions online. Millions of people every day are coming together across Ning to explore and express their interests, discover new passions, and meet new people around shared pursuits.”

A great example of its use is in the group, “Classroom 2.0“.

buddypressThere is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for those of you interested in forums and groups for educational use here at ISM. We’re currently investigating the use of BuddyPress – a very similar type of service that is scheduled to be integrated with WordPress soon. If things go as planned, this could hopefully be an option for use in your classes starting in August. More info to come!

Most active MS and HS ISM blogs in 2010

Photo by Stefan

Image by Stefan

Twenty ten is only 5 weeks in, and yet there’s been a flurry of activity on some of the MS and HS WordPress blogs here at ISM. It’s wonderful to see so many teachers utilizing this tool for communication and collaboration. Here’s a quick list for some of the most active blogs thus far in 2010:

High School

Middle School

ISM Blogging Highlights for October

There are some wonderful things taking shape amongst the ISM blogs. After browsing through Netvibes (where you can quickly see all blog posts), I’ve selected a few blogs which are teeming with great information, vibrant posts, and regular updates. These are just a small sample of the fantastic blogging that’s coming together here at ISM. Have a look!


High School:

Middle School:

Elementary School:

WordPress Warriors in High School!

Browsing wading through the sea of newly created WordPress blogs throughout the High School, it’s evident some wonderful work is taking shape. I’ve just set up an RSS feed of all the WP blogs in High School for quick and easy viewing of what’s happening around the blogosphere at ISM. More about that later. (and Middle School – I’ll get to you very soon!)

ISM Netvibes RSS Feed

A few blogs caught my eye as examples of what is possible, even in these early stages. Whether they’ve incorporated images and videos, or a plethora of documents and presentations, or perhaps the regular posting and sheer volume of information provided, these teachers have already demonstrated proficiency with utilizing WordPress as an online learning tool.

And to reiterate, WordPress is not a mandatory tool for a class website. These are simply examples of how WP may be used as an option.

I recommend that you take a moment to view their efforts and perhaps gain inspiration and ideas from the various formats and media these teachers have presented through their blogs. (and these are by no means the only blogs that stand out!)

In no particular order:

Great work everyone. Hopefully this sharing of information will positively support and enhance the learning of ISM students school-wide!