May 22, 2013, 8:00 am
A constant here at the site is our collective fondness for WordPress, the open-source blogging platform that’s easily adapted to a whole range of needs. Indeed, one of the reasons that we’re so fond of WordPress is that it’s so easily extended and modified. The WordPress backend makes the code for the various themes readily available, and so it’s quite easy to apply some CSS and a little light PHP to make a theme of your very own.
For those new to the platform, or new to the idea of trying out their own changes, this can be as intimidating a process as it is empowering. What if I break something?!?
If you are interested in starting to tinker with WordPress, but are worried about modifying code you don’t understand, Joshua Beckman has your back. Beckman has distributed Naked WordPress, a stripped-down, heavily commented theme that explains what’s going on under the hood. (Freely…
March 13, 2013, 8:00 am
Over the last few years, we’ve written a lot about maintaining an online presence. When that presence takes the form of a website, WordPress is one of the most commonly used tools for building (whether you download and install it yourself or decide to use wordpress.com instead). It’s certainly a ProfHacker favorite.
There are times, though, when creating a web presence involves not only running a blog and/or posting relevant professional information, but also hosting a full-blown digital project. WordPress might be sufficiently robust to handle what’s needed—or it might not. In a lot of instances, Drupal might be a better choice. Drupal for Humanists does a good job of explaining both what Drupal can do, and when it might be better to use something else.
The site also has links to tools for getting started with developing a Drupal site, including Acquia Drupal and Pantheon…
December 4, 2012, 11:00 am
Before I finished grad school, I took a month-long seminar on teaching with technology. Among other things, we talked about how to build an “interactive syllabus” using that Tool of Tools: Dreamweaver. I seem to recall the instructional design team spending two hours talking about how to format tables correctly in order to assure we got proper alignment. Fast-forward a few years, and I almost never build a web page from scratch. Instead, I use blogs in almost all of my classes: it’s a much simpler way to publish to the web.
It turns out many of us here at ProfHacker use blogs in the classroom. That explains why we’ve got posts on creating a printable syllabus from your blog (rather than vice versa), evaluating student blogs, re-using course blogs, moving your blog, and better blogging assignments. Blogs are great, and they help you get your work done, in an online space that…
September 20, 2012, 11:00 am
Of the perennial ProfHacker favorites, WordPress is probably neck and neck with Zotero as our most written about topic. From course blogs to department websites to ProfHacker itself, we like WordPress for just about any kind of website that you might run. In fact, other than the barest mention, I don’t think we’ve even acknowledged the existence of WordPress competitors like Blogger, Typepad, and MoveableType. WordPress really is that much better than the competition. (Jason does like About.me for profile pages, and if you’re comfortable on the command line Jekyll or Octopress are great choices.)
But if for academic purposes there isn’t much choice between WordPress and its competitors, you do have a choice between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. With WordPress.org, you host your own installation of WordPress and can install plugins and themes however you wish. With WordPress.com,…
June 1, 2012, 11:00 am
Are you happy with your department website? I would not be surprised if your answer is “No.” As I’ve written before, “[m]any (most?) college and university websites are poorly designed” and this includes the sites devoted to specific departments. (Please note: I’m not asserting that the web designers and developers in higher ed are incompetent. Rather, I think the problem is having to please several different audiences with competing, incompatible needs and ending up pleasing almost no one.)
Lately I’ve been thinking about what it might be like if my department were to use WordPress to maintain our website (and perhaps take some degree of control over its design while still staying within the campus branding guidelines). Now it’s true the WordPress was original created for blogging, but it has evolved into a very powerful content management system. Using it for our department website …
May 24, 2012, 11:00 am
We’ve all dreaded it: the day something goes horribly wrong with something that’s of ongoing importance for a course we’re teaching. It happened to me the middle of the semester.
I use a multisite installation of WordPress to run my courses. I try to be very faithful about keeping up with updates as appropriate. It was just that fidelity that caused a problem.
One evening in late March, one of my students emailed to let me know that she couldn’t access the course site—she kept getting an error that said something about too many redirects. I tried to go to the site myself, and got the same error. So I decided to try the sites for the other courses I was teaching this spring. I got the same result. In fact, I was getting the same error for every single site on my domain. Ugh.
I’d done some automatic updates on my WordPress installation earlier in the day; I can only conclude …
May 14, 2012, 8:00 am
Here at ProfHacker, we’ve published several posts about WordPress and Omeka, two great content management systems designed to make it easy for you to publish and organize your online content. How you let readers know when you publish new content, however, is up to you. One strategy is to use social networks like Twitter to send out short blurbs about new posts. However, managing an online profile and manually sending out these updates can be time consuming. While some Twitter plugins already exist for WordPress to Tweet automatically a link to a new post, I haven’t found one that worked especially well. And as far as I could tell, there was no such plugin for Omeka. Until now.
They say that if you want something done right you should do it yourself. So I created a Twitter plugin for WordPress and Omeka and called it Tweetster.
Tweetster was born out of necessity. Managing multiple …
April 9, 2012, 11:00 am
In February I wrote about using WordPress 3.0′s multisite feature to create class websites. I wrote about how easy it is to create separate websites for each course one teaches while managing them through a unified administrative interface. Last week I discovered a plugin that enhances WordPress’ multisite features for course websites. Blog Copier allows users to create duplicate sites within a multisite network with a single button click. The plugin creates the new site and imports into it all of the pages, posts, plugins, themes, and widgets from the old site.
So, if you’re planning a course that you’ve taught before, you can simply duplicate the course website and then tweak the details that have changed, saving you significant setup time. In my case, I have to make some adjustments for a semester-long course that I’m teaching in an abbreviated summer term, but I won’t have to…
February 28, 2012, 11:00 am
Numerous posts on ProfHacker have considered how to create and sustain a professional online identity, including Miriam Posner’s Primer for Academics, Jentery Sayer’s advice for job candidates, and George’s open thread on personal versus professional websites.
Here I want to introduce a very simple idea for any professor, alt-ac, or student who does indeed have his or her own professional website. It is quite simply: promote your talks and appearances.
In a prominent position on your site, maintain an up-to-date list of upcoming conference presentations, invited talks, readings, gallery shows, or any other appearances that are related to your academic life.
What are the benefits to publicizing your talks this way? Visitors to your site can see what you’re up to. You’ll end up with a record of what you’ve done—an archive that is especially handy when you write your …