Working in Blogs

South Western is using freeware from Word Press to create our own branded blogs. All users on the network, both teachers and students, have the capability of creating their own blog. 1. Go to our main blog site: http://blog.swsd.k12.pa.us. The left side of the screen lists current blogs in the system. 2. Under Settings on the right click the Log on link. 3. In the next screen, enter your Novell username (first_last) and your Novell password and press the Log In button.

4. If you do not have a blog yet, click on Create a New Site link.

5. In the next window you will need to decide what the web address will be for your blog. The first portion of the web address is displayed under Site Name, blog.swsd.k12.pa.us/. You will only be allowed to use lowercase letters and no spaces. 6. Enter the title you want the blog to read in the box under Site Title:.
7.

In the Privacy section, decide whether or not you want your blog to be searchable. For student blogs, it would best to select No. (You can amend this under
Setting once the blog is created.)

8. Click the Create Site button at the bottom. Congratulations! You now have a new blog. The next screen will show you the web address of your new blog and have a log in link.

Alma Row Director of Data & Instructional Technology South Western School District

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Anatomy of your Blog
The main blog “Dashboard” consists of the left blue menu area and the center work area. All of the menus expand once you click on the heading. The central work area changes as well so that you can work on that part of the blog. Dashboard: Toggle back and forth between My Sites (lists all the blogs to which you have access) and Dashboard (where you control the blog itself). Posts: This lists any blog entries you have written in your blog. All posts appear chronologically, with the latest entry at the top. When you click on the Posts menu, you can edit, delete, etc. any of your posts in the work area in the center of this screen. Media: From this menu you can add new media (pictures, video, etc.) that you can embed in another page of your blog. Click on Add New and then the Select Files button to search your files to be uploaded. Links: From this menu you can add links that can appear in various portions of your blog (controlled through the Widgets found under the Appearance tab). Click on Add New to add an additional link you’d like to appear within your blog. Pages: Use this menu to create additional pages in your blog. Depending on the theme you have chosen, they will appear as tabs across the top of the blog. In the work area will appear a list of the pages affiliated with this blog. There is an “About” page already created for you. • • • Click on the Add New link to create a new page. Enter the title. Add your content to the page in the Upload/Insert box.

You can add media by clicking on the buttons above that window. You can add media from your files (computer), a web site (URL – my preference!), or from your media library (see above).

Alma Row Director of Data &Picture Video Audio Instructional Technology South Western School District

All other types)

Menu Area

Work Area

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You can continue to work on this additional page until you are ready to publish it. When you want it to be visible on your blog, click on the Publish button in the right Publish portion of the screen. Additional Options: o Page Attributions: Parent: This section allows you to control where this page will appear. The default is (no parent) which means it will appear in the list across the top of your blog. If you choose to have one of your other pages to be its ‘parent’, it will appear as a drop down under that page. You can also control the order of those sub-pages using the number section under Order. Template: The default is to have your page use the standard template (with the sidebar navigation). If you’d like the page to be free of that, click on the drop down menu and choose One column, not sidebar. o Custom Fields: I don’t use this as the purpose is for collecting additional data on those viewing your page…way beyond my needs or capabilities! o Discussion: Allow comments: Unless you want people to comment on each page you make (as opposed to your main page where your blog entries appear) uncheck this box. Allow trackbacks and pingbacks on this page: This is another feature for which I don’t see the purpose. Trackbacks will notify you if someone commented on your page (if you left the Allow comments checked). Pingbacks tells you if others linked to your page/blog. Again, I would uncheck this. o Comments: This section will list any comments left on this page if you left Allow comments checked (see above). o Revisions: This shows you all the different revisions to your page (each time you saved it). This is handy if you made a mistake and saved it but wanted to go back to an earlier version. By clicking on an earlier date, you can see the page as it was saved on that date/time. To revert to that version, click on the Restore link to its right in that chart.

Comments: This left menu will display the comments added to your blog. By default, our blogs do not display comments until they are approved. This can be changed under Discussion under Settings. Click to check the box next to each comment and then use the dropdown menu under Bulk Actions. Click on the Apply link to execute that action. Appearance: This section is a lot of fun as you can control how your blog will appear to the viewers. • Themes: We have preloaded 106 different themes for you to use and most can

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be customized. Click on the Preview link to see how your page will appear. Click on the Activate link to use that theme. (CAUTION: Not all themes allow for additional pages (other than nested under the Home page, so if you plan on having additional pages to your blog, make sure to choose a theme that allows additional pages.) • Widgets: There are many nifty widget that can add a lot to your blog. For example, a blog roll is a list of external websites that may be handy to have on your site. These widget will appear on your main home page as well as any pages you create with the Default Template (as opposed to One column, not sidebar option – see Pages above). o The available widgets are listed in the left portion of the work area and the sections to which you can add them are listed on the right. To use a widget all you need to do is click on it from the center section and drag it to the page section in the right area. That widget will then appear on that portion of the page. o Many widgets are pre-set on your blog. To eliminate any of them, click on the down arrow of that widget, click on the Delete link and then press the blue Save button. • Menu: If your theme supports a menu tab (additional pages you created visible), you can change what appears on that menu at the top. For example, you can add a link to your wikispace and your other pages in your blog. You can make separate menus for each page of your blog. If you’re fine with the automatic navigation of your blog, you may not want change this. Background: This will allow you to upload an image to use as the background to your blog. Typically, the theme has a rim around the edge where this image will appear. You can also choose a color (bottom portion). Header: If your theme uses a header graphic (picture along the top), you can change that by removing it, selecting your own image or another one they make available to you. Click the Save Changes button if you choose to change your header.

Users: This portion of the screen shows you as the administrator to this blog. You can add others in various roles. • • • Users: Shows who has access to this blog. Your Profile: Change the information as needed. “Nickname” is where you can put your formal name by which your students should call you. Add User: Click here (not Add New on the Users screen) to add others to your blog as it will use LDAP (automatically looks up our users on our network). Choose the correct role (Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, or Subscriber) and then press the Add User button. Tools: Okay, I don’t get what advantage the Press This tool is other than to create an instant post of the site you’re on, namely this tool portion of your blog. The other tool, Categories and Tag Converter, let’s you quickly change those items’ roles. (Tags and

Tools: •

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Categories are used when you make posts so that they can be grouped or searched on your site.) • • • Import: This feature is not available to us. Export: This lets you export a range of your blog posts. Use the dropdown menu to refine that export. Delete Site: This lets you delete the site. You will be prompted to check the box indicating you realize this cannot be undone. If you’re sure you’re done with the blog (e.g., you made a junk one to play around with), check the box and press the Delete My Site Permanently button. Poof! It’s gone!

Settings: To make any changes permanent, click on the blue Save Changes button at the bottom. • • • General: Go here to change the blog name, the tag line, your email address, time zone, etc. Writing: You can change the size of a post box, etc. but I typically don’t change much in this screen. Reading: One useful thing on this settings page is to pick a different page other than your home page to display when people go to your blog. By default, your blog, where you post your thoughts (and others can comment), is your home page. If you would like another page to be the Home page, use the dropdown menus listing your pages in the top Front Page Displays section. You will need to select a new posts page (where you blog posts will show). Discussion: This screen lets you control a lot about the discussions on your blog. o Email me whenever section: One thing you might want to change is to uncheck the boxes in the Email me whenever section (unless you want an email every time one of those conditions are met). o Before a comment appears section: If you are encouraging students to comment and have any concerns that inappropriate comments could be made, make sure you check the box next to An administrator must always approve the comment. • • Media: This section allows you to set defaults for media on your blog. Privacy: This allows you to control who has access to and visibility of your blog. You chose this setting when you created the blog. Unless there’s a reason the outside world needs to see your blog (and your students’ comments), it might be wise to choose the second setting that reads “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors.” XVE: These are default settings used when we imported WordPress software. I wouldn’t mess with any of these (and they are way above my head!).

Alma Row Director of Data & Instructional Technology South Western School District

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