WordPress Blogs for CFCC Faculty and Staff

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a web log program that allows users to create and manage their own blogs. Users can create and manage blog posts using a web based interface and see their content published instantly.

Who can use WordPress?

WordPress blogs are available to CFCC Faculty and Staff for use as their personal CFCC web pages. While each faculty or staff member controls the content of their blog they are still representing Cape Fear Community College to the public. Subject matter and content published to the WordPress blogs should be relevant and appropriate to Cape Fear Community College. It is also important to keep in mind that the CFCC Acceptable Use Policy for computers and technology applies to the WordPress blogs.

Why Use WordPress?

Because WordPress Rocks! It is also a great way to connect with students and colleagues. A WordPress blog can be used to supplement instructional material, journal professional development, support research or just blog about things that are interesting. Here are a few examples of how blogs are used at CFCC and other schools:

Cape Fear Community College provides up-to-date information with a News and Events blog.
http://cfcc.edu/blogs/news/

CFCC’s Webmaster uses a WordPress blog to share web related how-tos for CFCC Faculty and Staff. http://cfcc.edu/blogs/cwheikkila81/

Doc Searls Weblog is a blog maintained by a professor at Harvard. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/doc/

A View to Hugh is a UNC Weblog cataloging the work of photographic archivists who are processing the Hugh Morton Photographs and Films Collection.
http://www.lib.unc.edu/blogs/morton/

Anatomy of a Blog

Blogs and their uses can be very unique. However, many blogs share common elements specifically in the structure of their layout. For example, most blogs have a header, footer, content area and a sidebar. The diagram below shows common blog features and how they may be arranged.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Header

The header of a web blog is the area at the top of the blog. The header usually contains the title of the blog, the blog’s description and graphics. Some headers may include a navigation menu that is dynamically created from blog pages. The appearance and function of the header may change depending on the blog’s current theme.

Content

The content area of the blog is where the information added by publishing posts and pages will appear. The content area is typically the largest column in the layout and displays the text and images the author publishes on the blog.

Sidebar

The sidebar is a smaller, second column in the blog layout. The sidebar is typically where search fields, page menus, category menus and widgets are displayed. The combination of the content area and single side bar is a Two-column layout. Some blog themes feature more than one sidebar. The combination of the content area and two sidebars is a three column layout.

Footer

The footer is located at the bottom of the blog and minimally presents closing information about the blog, such as copyright notification and author identification. However, depending on the theme the footer can present additional content and information and some themes feature a widgitized footer that can display selected widgets.

The use and presentation of these layout elements within a blog is highly dependent upon the theme being used. Headers, footer and sidebars may have varying levels of sophistication and functionality depending on the selected WordPress theme.

Create a Blog

Activating a new blog is simple, users should go to http://cfcc.edu/blogs. This link displays the CFCC Blogs home page and presents a login form asking for a user name and password. Users logging in for the first time should use the same Username and Password they would use to access CampusCruiser, Blackboard or WebAdvisor.

login

Once logged in the user will see their WordPress dashboard. Users will also receive a welcoming email in their Campus Cruiser email account. After logging in the user can change the email address from their Campus Cruiser account to their Groupwise email on the general settings page.

Dashboard

The dashboard is the main control panel for the WordPress blog. From here the user can access all of the features and preferences for their blog. The dash board also provides current statistics on the number of posts, pages, tags and categories that are in the blog and informs the user of their current storage space available.

dashboard

The dashboard will also display recent comments and inform the user if comments are awaiting moderation.

Please note that storage space is limited to 150MB for each blog.

Change Your Title

The very first task a user should perform is to change the name of their blog. Upon logging in for the first time the blog uses the username as a default title. The user can change the title by accessing the settings link on their dashboard.

The first editable field on the General Settings page is for the blog title. The user can enter a new title here and then scroll to the bottom of the page to click the “Save Changes” button.

changetitle

The changes will be saved and the blog will be updated immediately. The user is now ready to begin creating posts for their blog.

Getting Started

WordPress allows the users to create Posts, Pages and Links. The user can insert images, audio and with the help of special plugins Flash or video media. The user can also organize their content through the use of categories and tags. The following section will highlight the most common features that allow the user to create and manage their content.

Terminology

Below are terms and definitions that introduce the main features and functions of WordPress.

Post

Posts are considered dynamic content because they constantly change. Posts are like a journal entry each new post replaces the one before it and old posts are archived. Most new content a user will add to their blog will be in the form of a post.

Page

A Page is static content where the user can create content that does not change. This is more like a traditional web page like an “About Me” page or a “Contact Me” page. Anytime the user wishes to publish information that is not going to change and should be available anytime the user should put that information on a page.

Images

WordPress allows the user to insert images into posts and pages. While WordPress provides several options to manage images it does not edit images. Use photo editing software to crop and resize photos for web viewing. Keep file size small, WordPress upload storage space is limited and large photos will fill storage space quickly.

Because of limited storage space the user may consider one of many free photo storage websites such as Flickr (http://www.flickr.com). The user can upload photos to Flickr and then link to the photo when posting to the WordPress blog.

Link

A link is a hyperlink to another page or website. In WordPress the user can create links to their favorite websites or other blogs and have those links appear in a sidebar widget called a Blog roll. The user can also create categories to organize links into custom menus.

Category

Categories help WordPress to organize posts, pages and even links. The user can create categories to organize pages and posts into related groups. Categories often appear on the blog as a list of links where each category will provide the site visitor with a listing of posts related to the category. This can serve as a secondary form of navigation for the blog.

Tags

A tag is a keyword or term that can be applied to blog posts to create highly searchable metadata. For example, if a blog post is about the history of Art Nouveau posters from the late 19th century then key words like art, poster or history may be appropriate tags for the post. If these are applied to the post then a site visitor can search for “art” on the blog and find the post about Art Nouveau posters. If a future post that discuses modern movie posters shares the tag “poster” with the previous Art Nouveau post then the two posts will be associated by the tag. Both posts may be provided in results of a search for the keyword poster. Some WordPress themes may include a sidebar widget know as a “tag cloud” that will display tags associated with the blog providing site visitors an alternative to categorical navigation. Tags are determined by the user and can be applied to posts when they are created.

Themes

Themes control the look and feel of the blog. A selection of themes can be found under the “Design” tab on the dashboard. The Themes page is the first page displayed under the Design tab. The Themes page displays the blog’s current theme and a listing of available themes. WordPress has a large user community and free high quality themes are popular and easy to find on the web. Any new themes must be submitted to the Web Master (Christina Heikkila) or the Web Designer (Justin Floyd).

Comments

Comments are a way for site visitors to interact with the author’s posts. Comments can provide engaging interactive content and feedback. It is also important to moderate comments for inappropriate content. The user can set a series of rules to help WordPress identify spam comments or inappropriate comments and send them to a Moderation Queue. The blog user can view, approve or disapprove incoming comments in the Moderation queue.

Plugin

Plugins are programs that extend the functionality of the WordPress blog. Plugins allow users to do things like embed video, display Flickr galleries, or just about anything the user can imagine. Available plugins are listed on the Plugin management page. Interested in Plugins? Learn more at the WordPress plugin directory. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/. Submit any plugin requests to CFCC’s Web Designer jfloyd@cfcc.edu.

Widget

Widgets are blocks of content the user can assign to designated areas of the blog. Typically Widgets are assigned to the Sidebar. Most blogs have two or three columns: a main column for the pages and posts, and a smaller secondary column called a sidebar. Most widgets are added to WordPress in the form of Plugins.