WordPress – getting started

Understanding the Back-End
Last week’s Teaching Tip addressed why you might consider using an open platform, such as WordPress, for class materials and student interaction. This week, we’ll look at what you need to know to get started designing —your WordPress website on the Community server.


The Dashboard is where you can quickly get recent activity information about your site. Typically, this is the area you —will first see when you log into your WordPress site.


Site settings should be addressed early in the site design. It is especially important to read through and set both the ‘General’ —and ‘Discussion’ settings carefully.


Theme choice should be based on how you want the site to look and function. As you are getting started, it is often helpful to model your site on another. Look at course site examples at https://community.uaf.edu. Often the Theme used is credited at the bottom of the site (footer region).
Each Theme offers different capabilities. Page layout, color and widget areas are all examples of theme-specific site —components.


Widgets are building blocks that perform a specific function on your site. The available widgets will vary depending on what theme you are using and which plugins are enabled.
Arrange your widgets via the ‘Appearance’ -> ‘Widget’ interface by dragging and dropping them into the widget- ready areas, which are provided by the theme.


Plugins provide specific functionality on your site. Search for plugins and enable them via the ‘Plugin’ interface. Not all plugins work the same with all themes and sometimes plugins have their own settings, so some experimentation —with them is often necessary.


Add, remove and keep track of users in the ‘User’ panel. User permissions are as follows:

  • Administrator – owner and manager of the site.
  • Editor – can edit all pages and posts but cannot modify site settings, plugins, or widgets.
  • Author – can publish and manage their own posts
  • with multimedia.
  • Contributor – can create a post but cannot publish it. — Subscriber – can only manage their profile.
All of the roles above can comment on posts if you allow commenting in the Discussion settings.
The permission level you give students will depend on how you want them to perform and interact in class.
Will students need to upload multimedia? If so, they will need to be invited to join the site as ‘Authors’.
Will students only be commenting on your posts with text? You may not need to invite them. Instead, consider crafting the ‘Discussion Settings’ so that the comment author must have a previously approved comment. The instructor then manually approves the first comment from each student, after which the discussion can flow freely.





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