WordPress Quickstart for Faculty

This page goes over some specific aspects of using WordPress at Pomona for a public course website. If you’d like to read more in-depth information about using WordPress, the WordPress website has excellent documentation on every aspect of the program, from basic to advanced. These are some good pages to start with:

New User Registration

On the front page of your blog, there should be a Register link in the sidebar, under the Meta heading. Your sidebar layour will looks slightly different depending on the template you choose.

wordpress ITS meta section

This “Register” link takes students to the registration screen, where they enter a the user name of their choice and a valid email address. A password will be emailed to them at the email address they enter.

By default, user registration is open to anyone. But users who register via the front page of the site are given an initial access level of “Subscriber,” which does not allow the user to create posts. In order for registered users to have the ability to create their own posts, you must raise their access level to “Author.”

We can change sign-up so that registration is open to anyone for a short period of time, and everyone who registers is given the “Author” user level, giving your students access to the publishing tools as soon as they sign up. This makes registration very quick and easy for you and your students. But you must make sure that everyone who signs up is a student, and you must shut down user registration as soon as all your students are signed up.

User Names

Your user name policy is up to you. Because these websites are wide open to the world and will be archived by search engines, we suggest that you ask your students to choose a name without any immediately identifying information, such as their real name or their school ID. This gives the students a small degree of anonymity. (However you should still stress the public, published nature of these websites.)

We suggest that you ask your students to register with their college email address (which is not made public) so you can identify them and easily tell if a non-student is attempting to register.

User Passwords

Changing Password

WordPress chooses a random password which is emailed to the user. This password can be changed by logging in and going to the Users menu, and clicking on the Your Profile sub-menu

Lost Password

On the Login/Registration screen, there’s a link for “Lost your password?” This will email a random password to the address used at sign up.

wordpress - lost password

Site Administration:

The First Time you Log In

When you log in, you will see the WordPress Administration Panel.

WordPress Codex: Administration Panel

where you control the behind-the-scenes operations of your site. Common to all of the panels is a heading which shows the name of your blog, a link to your blog’s main page, a link to Sign Out, and a link to your profile (My Profile}.

Dashboard

The first screen of the Administration Panel you’ll see is the Dashboard, which displays news about WordPress and shows some statistics about your blog. The navigation tabs across the top take you to the various sections for administering your website.

wordpress dashboard - ITS

Writing Posts

WordPress was designed to make writing blog posts as easy as possible. The short version is:

  1. Login
  2. Click the tab labeled Write.
  3. Fill in the blanks.
  4. When you are ready, click Publish.

For a longer overview with details about what each part of the interface does, see:
WordPress Codex: Writing Posts

Writing Pages

“Pages” are almost exactly like “posts.” The main difference is that posts are organized chronologically and by category. Pages are not — they are only organized by their web address (slug), similar to a static HTML page. Pages can also be organized hierarchically, with one page appearing “below” another in the web address, similar to an HTML page located inside a directory.

You’ll probably use pages for things like the class syllabus.

To write a page:

  1. Go to the Write Panel.
  2. Select Write Page.
  3. Write the title of your pages on Title field.
  4. Write your text in the Page Content field.
  5. The Slug field is based on the title. Change the slug if you wish.
  6. Click the Publish button to make the page public.

Managing Comments

Blogs have their own special kind of spam — comment spam. We install several protective measures to help defend your course website, but spam is an ever-evolving threat, and some is probably going to sneak through. One thing you must do with your public course website is periodically check your comments and weed out any spam (most of it will be “moderated” which means it was caught, but not yet erased).

If you’re getting comment spam, please let the Instructional Technology Group know right away — we’ll take appropriate countermeasures.

Advanced

Plugins, templates, blogging clients, RSS…

Although WordPress is very easy to use, it has a lot of powerful features and can be customized in almost any way you want.

You can find out more about what WordPress can do in the WordPress Codex, or you can contact the the Instructional Technology Group for a one-on-one session on the topics of your choice.