About Blogging : For Teachers – Part 3(b) of 10


What is a blog?

Welcome to my 10-part online series About Blogging : An Introduction for Teachers. It is based on the course I created and delivered in 2014 and includes the notes and resources I made available to the course attendees. Twice a month I post a section of the course on the web site. At the end of the course, I will make available the PowerPoint presentation including the notes used and various resources for members of the Tech Teachers web site.



Part 3b : Using WordPress

Continuing on from Part 3a, this is the rest of the section on Using WordPress.

Using WordPress


Categories
Categories for Posts
The true power of a blog is the ability to categorise its content so that the user is able to navigate through efficiently and browse effectively. The content of a blog is the main drawing factor for users of the blog. To categorise each post is very important.

When posting, it helps to categorise the post. In the sidebar, to the right of your post, are the category options. By default, there is only one category called ‘uncategorised’.

cat1

To create a category, click the ‘+ Add New Category’ link and add a category for your post.

cat2

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Tags
Tags are like keywords or even phrases that one can add to their post/page to make searching for similar or related posts much easier. It also helps when grouping related content.

They’re quite useful and can come in handy with site searches, indexing content and user-engagement. Try using the same phrases or key words that are relevant to the content and repeat them in other related posts too.

The Tags options are also available on the hand side of your post while editing.

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Tips for category or tag naming

  • Leave out irrelevant words such as “of, or, with, and etc..”
  • Use useful names that people might search for eg. Life Science Resources
  • Be consistent in naming conventions
  • Don’t ‘over-tag’ your posts with too many tags or categories
  • Try use tags that will link related content eg. ‘Grade 12’ on any post that relates to Grade 12 users/teachers

Comments

To Allow Or Not To Allow

You can allow people to comment on posts and pages that you create. There are a number of reasons why you would allow commenting and just as many for not allowing commenting.

For

  • Engage your readers
  • Allow for discussion on topics/posts
  • Have questions and answers happen in real-time on your blog

Against

  • Comment spam with links to questionable sites
  • Users taking advantage and deviating from the topic of the post to push their opinions
  • Fake comments that seem almost real, complimenting your post/blog but deceptively throwing in a link to a spam web site

You can, however, allow comments to be moderated before they are publicly posted. Access this option via the Settings / Discussion options in the Dashboard sidebar. I suggest enabling these options to protect your blog and content.

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Appearance/Themes

Widgets
Widgets are used mostly for the sidebar, header and footer of your site. The sidebar contains links and navigation features for the blog. You can add links to external sites, pages in your blog, the latest posts, a calendar showing when posts have been added, links to categories on the site and much more.

To go to the Widgets page, navigate (from your Dashboard) to Appearance – Widgets.

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There are MANY widgets available with a drag-and-drop interface. Depending on the WordPress theme you have chosen for your site, you may have more than one location to place a widget.

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Simply drag the widgets you’d like to use to a container on the right. Some widgets have customisable options too like the Recent Posts widget.

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Here you can see I have added a bunch of widgets to the main sidebar:

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Here you can see the widgets in action on the live blog:

widgets5

Settings

The Blog Description
Access the settings via the Settings menu. Let’s look at the General settings.

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Here you can specify the name and tag-line for your blog. These are important as search engines will index these before looking at your content.

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Here I have added some information:

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And the live version where you can see the Site title and Description being displayed:

settings4


Discussion settings
One of the best parts of having a blog is that fact that people can comment on your content and you can generate discussion. There are advantages and disadvantages.

We have looked at comments already in the ‘comments‘ section above.


Sharing
Click on the ‘Sharing’ option to access the Sharing page where you can link your blog with other social networking accounts.  Basically what this means is that when you publish a post or create a page, a notification gets posted on the accounts you link. It’s quite handy if you have people following you on other social media outlets. For example, instead of having to update your Facebook page for your students, WordPress can post to it automatically for you!

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Password Protection

Protecting a Post
Password-protecting a post is very easy and ensures that only someone who knows the password can access and view the content of a particular post.

When creating a post, look at the ‘Publish’ box on the right of your post. Click ‘Visibility’ and select ‘password protected’. Enter in a password. Publish when ready.

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The end result is this:

password2


Protecting a Page
Protecting a page is exactly the same as protecting a post.




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