If your course materials are offered on the WordPress community server (Community@UAF), there are a few plugins that can help make you and your student’s experience better.  WordPress plugins are small bits of code written by a third party that can be enabled to help enhance functionality in many different ways.  Chances are, if you are trying to do something in particular in WordPress, there is a plugin for it.

Plugins on Community@UAF (https://community.uaf.edu/) are curated for software compatibility and usability for your use. One caveat to be aware of when trying plugins, is that they can interact in unexpected ways with your theme or with other plugins in combination. Activate one at a time and if you choose not to use it, deactivate after testing. Get help with choosing and configuring plugins by coming to any of our Open Lab sessions.

Instructional designers all have their favorite plugins but these are a few on the top of my list:

avatar list shows icons of contributors1. Author Avatars List. If your students are required to post on the site, enabling this plugin will allow you to list students by their avatar in a widget area (must also be enabled in Dashboard->Widgets). If you click on a student’s avatar, you will see all posts made by that student. This helps to foster a sense of community while also making it easier for everyone to find their posts. Students can create their avatar using the Gravatar link provided in Dashboard->Your Profile.  

2. Collapse-O-Matic. If you find you have pages with lots of text and want a simple way to condense the information visually in a smart way, this plugin will let you easily insert expandable sections right in your page using a shortcode wrapper around the content. (example: https://cios255.community.uaf.edu/1-tools/)   

3. H5P.  H5P allows you to upload, create, share and use rich interactive content on your site such as short quizzes, interactive video, image hotspots, drag and drop tasks with images, recording audio, collages, charts, and more. If you’re looking for tools to foster student engagement, check these out. For more information, see the H5P homepage (https://h5p.org) and the H5P Teaching Tip (https://iteachu.uaf.edu/h5p-plugin/).

h5p is a product that allows you to create interactive elements

4. Registered Users Only. Want to restrict access to your course site as you get it built or need to keep discussion private within the cohort? This plugin only allows registered users who are allowed access by their permissions level to view it.  

5. iframe. Do you need to embed Google Docs, Calendars, and media like Kaltura but are frustrated by the <iframe> code getting stripped out every time you save your page?  There are reasons this happens but if you find yourself in this situation, try enabling the iframe plugin. You will just need to change the brackets on the code — from <iframe> to [iframe].

See the PDF for this Teaching Tip. 

Jennifer Moss

Jennifer Moss is an instructional designer and adjunct faculty at UAF with over 25 years of experience in academic development in higher education.  

jlmoss@alaska.edu