#LD5D Module 1 Thing 2: Choosing appropriate types of platform

Hi, it’s Michelle Reid here, taking over the post for Week 2!

The second week of LD5D explores further how WordPress can be used to create and maintain your professional online identity through considering the type of content you want to share and the ways in which you want to reach your audience.

Tool: WordPress 

WordPress is a flexible tool and can be used in a number of ways to create both pages and posts. Fixed pages are a ‘broadcast’ medium enabling you to disseminate information to your audience for them to consume. Blog posts allow you to produce more dynamic content that your audience can comment upon and interact with.

To give two examples from my context at the University of Reading – our Study Advice study guides are based on core study principles; we don’t expect them to change so we make them available as a series of webpages that we can update occasionally to include links to useful further resources we find. In contrast, our University of Reading Library has a news blog to alert people to new developments in the Library and seek user feedback on these changes.

These examples are both part of a main university content management system which manages Reading’s ‘corporate’ webpages and blogs. So why might we as Educators or Learning Developers need additional professional blogs or websites beyond those we may maintain as part of our ‘service’ or role?

Task: Creating pages and posts with WordPress

This week you have the chance to experiment with creating both static pages and blog posts in WordPress, and consider when and why you may want to use these different modes.

1/ Consider your purpose, audience, and online identity

Before creating pages and posts, it is worth considering the main purpose and the main audience for your blog or website. (Of course for LD5D you have a ready-made purpose and audience, as you are using your blog as the forum for reflecting on the tasks each week and for communicating with fellow participants). However, you may wish to think about the potential uses you have for a personal professional blog or website in your wider role: Communicating with colleagues, fellow learning developers, students? Disseminating research, sharing tips, motivating yourself to write, or working out your views on issues that concern you?

An online identity is like the theme or ‘angle’ that gives coherence to your blog or website. It is something that can be embodied through the visual appearance, feel, content and ethos of your blog or website.  To take an off-the-wall example from fashion blogging not education, see Fashionably Light. This may not be to everyone’s taste (uber-cute minimalism!) but what I like about this is the way the author embodies her message throughout all aspects of the blog from the title to the length of the posts.

2/ Add pages and posts in WordPress

Adding content in WordPress is easy, but what can sometimes be confusing is there is often more than one way of adding a post or a page – either by using the toolbar or through the dashboard editor. The toolbar is usually quicker and easier, so I will focus on this:

2a/ Adding a post

  • Log in to WordPress
  • Click on the ‘New post’ button on the right side of the tool bar on the top of the page

  • On the New Post screen, you will see the different types of content you can add (text, photo, video, quote, or link)
  • Select ‘Text’ to start with
  • Give your post a title
  • Write whatever text you would like in the box
  • You can also add tags to your posts so in the future you can group posts or make them searchable by tags
  • You can use the ‘Preview’ button to check how it will look and ‘Save Draft’ if you are not yet ready to publish
  • Click ‘Publish Post’ when you are ready to publish

If you prefer, you can watch this video for instructions on creating posts

2b/ Adding a page

  • Go to your blog main homepage
  • In the far upper left hand corner you will see the name of your blog – click on this
  • It will reveal a drop down menu, go to ‘New’ => ‘page’

 

  • Give your page a title
  • Add the text you want to appear on your page
  • Click ‘Publish’ when you are ready to publish

To find out more, you can watch this video on how to create a page

3/ Focus on static pages

You have already experienced creating a blog post from Week 1, so you may wish to focus on adding some static pages to your blog such as an ‘About’ page , ‘Publications’ page or ‘Useful links’ page. In fact you may have already noticed that WordPress automatically gives you an ‘About’ page with default text. This doesn’t look very personal or welcoming so you might like to edit this first to contextualize yourself and your blog. Then feel free to experiment creating other suitable static pages.

If you are planning to use WordPress to create a website, as opposed to a blog, you can set it to display one of your static pages as the front page instead of the rolling feed of your latest blog posts. You can watch this video on creating a static front page to find out more.

Another useful feature when using WordPress to create a website is the ability to change the order of items on your menu bar and to create nested drop-down menu items under a parent menu item. To make nested menu items, when creating a new page, you can use the Page Attributes box which is found at the right side of the page editor under the Publish mode:

Page Attributes box

This enables you to set one of your existing pages as the ‘parent’ under which the newly created page will nest. There is no limit to how deeply you can nest pages, so it is worth spending a little time thinking about a simple and logical structure for your nested pages before creating them, as it is far easier to create the parent page first and the nested pages afterwards.

You can also use the ‘Order’ box (see above) to change the order in which your static pages display. If you had three main pages on your menu bar (e.g. Publications, About, Useful links) and you wanted the About page to display first on the menu bar, assign it a ‘1’ in the Order box, then assign a ‘2’ to the next page, and ‘3’ to the final one, and so on.

4/ Get inspiration from other blogs

To give some ideas of how you might want to use a blog in different professional contexts, here are some examples I like, and please share your own recommendations too in the comments:

Reading Latin – Latin Reading – Professor Peter Kruschwitz

A great example of a blog used to share small pieces of research from an ongoing personal project. The blog format allows Peter to work through his thinking in a more informal and immediate way than other forms of academic publication.

The Thesis Whisperer

This shows how you can use a blog to collate tips and advice on a specific theme that students can then search to find the advice they need. Built using WordPress too!

SilchesterDig – Amanda Clarke

Amanda uses her blog as a professional diary and scrap book to chart the highs and lows of the digging season at Silchester. A really good way to capture the experiences of life on a large archaeological project, to keep people updated on the research as it happens and to give prospective students a taster of what it might be like on the dig.

Engage in Teaching and Learning

Worried that you might not have enough ongoing content for a blog or enough energy to write all the posts yourself? Enlist the help of your colleagues and use the blog format to share best practice or update each other on interesting stuff that you are doing!

You can use the reflective framework to prompt thoughts for your blog post this week:

Keyskills: How have you found using WordPress to create posts and pages – did it enable you to do what you wanted? Have you created blogs or webpages using other tools elsewhere? How does WordPress compare?

Profession-specific: Would a blog or a website be more suitable for your uses? What would be the purpose and audience for your professional website or blog? What kind of content would you want to share? What kind of theme or identity would you create?

Evaluation: What are some of the challenges in creating an online identity? Do you follow particular blogs yourself? If so, what is it about these blogs that attracted you and why do you continue to follow them?

Integration: How much maintenance might your blog or website need? If you are thinking of using a blog format, how often would you consider posting? Have you found any useful tricks, tips, or strategies for keeping your online presence updated?

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Posted in Module One
3 comments on “#LD5D Module 1 Thing 2: Choosing appropriate types of platform
  1. […] via #LD5D Module 1 Thing 2: Choosing appropriate types of platform. […]

  2. Fantastically useful post, Michelle. thank you! NB: I am re-posting LD5D to my Becoming an Educationalist students. These are first year Education Studies students – and we want them to develop their digital selves – including by blogging their own learning… I think LD5D is a great and very professional way for them to learn about blogging… But it also means that all our Becoming Educational blogs are appearing here in this blogroll, including the ones not directly involved with LD5D. I hope this is not a problem – and that it is not too distracting. Best, Sandra

  3. paulineridley says:

    no problem Sandra – its interesting to see this blog and the activities your students are undertaking!

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