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 and Importing Your WordPress Blog

As the year winds down, many of you will be moving on to new adventures. Wouldn’t it be great to take all the hard work you’ve put into your blogs with you? Well, you can!

However, before moving onto the steps of how to export your current blog, you’ll need to head over to WordPress.com (assuming that’s your preferred platform) and create a new blog. WordPress has two types of blogs – those hosted by WordPress (which end in .com) and those that you must host yourself (which end in .org). Our ISM blogs are on paid hosting (.org), so unless you’d like to pay for your own blog hosting, you’ll need to create a WordPress.com blog.

Give some thought to your blog’s new web address. I recommend to use something that’s not tied to a particular locations, school or situation as these may change. Assuming you’ve already created the new blog, let’s move on.

It’s relatively simple and straightforward:

  1. Log in to your WordPress blog here at ISM.
  2. In your dashboard, on the left hand column, you’ll see “Tools”. Under that, click on “Export”.
  3. You’ll be presented with a few options. Where it says, “Choose What to Export”, click “All content” and “Download Export File”.
  4. That will then download a file to your computer. (an XML file)
  5. Ok now the export is done!
  6. Assuming you’ve logged into your new WordPress.com blog, follow a similar path (from the dashboard, left-hand side, “Tools”, “Import”.
  7. Select, “WordPress” from the list of options from which to import.
  8. On the next screen, “Choose File” and select the XML file that was exported from your old blog.
  9. Make sure you select, “Import Attachments” – that will then import all most of your media from your old blog to the new one.
  10. Once it’s done, visit your site to confirm that things look similar to your ISM blog. Of course it will appear differently depending upon which theme you’ve chosen. However, there are literally thousands of themes to be used with WordPress.

Change it up! Making the switch from iNove to Nelo


Nelo Theme in Blog Layout

The Nelo theme offers a variety of layout choices for your blog.  You want to make sure that you choose the layout that will meet your needs. In the dashboard, got to Theme Options, you have two layout choices, blog homepage or custom homepage. If you choose blog homepage for your layout choice, your posts will appear just like they did when you were using iNove.

The custom homepage layout gives you the choice to show only a custom post, recent post, or both custom post with recent post.

Custom Post

Nelo Theme Custom Post on Custom Homepage

If you choose to show only a custom post, the image and post you create will always be displayed on your blog homepage.
Think of it like a static page.  It may look like all of your content is gone- don’t stress! Your other posts are on your blog, but will have to be accessed through category links, tags, or pages.   If you want to change the image for the Custom Image and Custom Post, you will need to go to your blog dashboard, then Appearance, and select Custom Homepage

Recent Post

This setting will show your most recent posts on your custom homepage. The most recent post, will wrap around the custom image that you upload to your custom homepage.  The your recent posts will appear under the Latest News heading.  If there is an image in your post, it will be displayed to the left of the post summary.  The text of the summary will start at the left margin if there is not an image present in the blog post.

Custom Post with Recent Post

Use this setting if you want to have a static image and post appear on your homepage along with the most recent posts that you have added to your blog.  When using this setting, however, you may run into a problem.  If you have added images to your media library, the most recent image will be repeated.  So if you want to keep the custom post and show your recent posts without having a repeated image, you can just add a plain white image to your media library.  Then, the plain white image is repeated, but you can’t see it if you are using a white background.  I know it is not the most “technical” solution, but it works!  The Nelo Theme developers are in the process of fixing this issue.  We will let you know when the problem has been resolved.

Nelo is a great theme once you understand the difference between the blog homepage and custom homepage.  If you are looking for some inspiration on ways that you can use Nelo to set up your blog, check out the following elementary blogs.

Mr. McCallum- ECLC

Ms. Grabow- Grade 1

Ms. Juteau- Grade 1

Mr. Rea- Grade 2

Ms. McGrath- Grade 3

Ms. Hines- Grade 4

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