What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free, open source blogging system that has been adopted by schools and universities around the world. “Open source” means that the programming code that makes up the WordPress blogging system is open and available to anyone who wants to see it (as opposed to closed proprietary software like Microsoft Windows or Adobe Photoshop). This means that all the bloggers and web developers that use WordPress can suggest fixes to bugs in the code and develop plugins or components to be added to the WordPress system. These plugins have expanded the horizons of WordPress to allow it to integrate with other software and adapt to new uses.
The blog you are using for this course is hosted at Thompson Rivers University, but you can export and download the content of your blog and put it up at another WordPress system like WordPress.com or edublogs.org. The content should also upload to other systems like Blogger, though you may lose some elements such as comments or categories.
Customizing Your Blog
You will want to learn how to use the “Dashboard” interface of your blog to manage your blog’s appearance, write and edit posts or pages, and manage comments and plugins. The video below presents a basic introduction to the WordPress dashboard.
For greater depth you may want to read “First Steps with WordPress” from WordPress.org. This will provide detailed instructions with screenshots for many of the settings and processes you will handle during this course.
Categories and Tags
Your blog can group posts using categories that you can assign as you write them or by editing them. Your blog also allows you to assign tags to your posts that help to describe their content. As part of your work in this course, you will need to use categories that will match the categories in other student blogs and on the course blog. Any blog posts that you apply the ‘EDDL 5141’ category to will be republished on the main course blog. You will also need to give specific tags to some posts to allow them to be collected for display with others from the class.
Writing and Commenting
Feel free to write on topics that interest you, in addition to any posts and pages produced for the course. Course-related posts will be aggregated on the course blog and can also be aggregated on your blog by using an RSS widget that will be provided in the first weeks of the course. Do take the time to visit other student blogs to comment on their individual posts or to respond to the posts of other students.
In addition to reviewing the ‘First Steps with WordPress’ tutorial above, you should look closely at the following tutorials.
WordPress Administration Panels (also called the ‘Dashboard’)
This gives you a brief description and then links to detailed tutorials on all the options for customizing your WordPress blog. Feel free to experiment (in most cases I can reverse or salvage any problems that arise).
Add New Posts Screen
This tutorial sets out all the steps and options in creating a new blog post – the most common activity you will undertake on your blog.
One of the most important customizations you can make to your blog is to change the theme. Themes will giver different layouts and colour schemes and some will include additional functionality. Feel free to try out several themes – some will allow you to customize your blog header image.
You can add different things to your left and/or right margins on your blog by using the widgets. On the main course blog site widgets provide the links to other blogs, page menus and other functionality. Explore widgets that interest you. They can be configured and placed into a menu and then removed as you see fit.