First, some lingo: the “Dashboard” is the website’s administration panel–that’s where all the mechanics happen. You will access the Dashboard to author blog posts and check your user stats and option (such as name display).
Once your instructor has added you as an official “author” on the course blog, you are ready to go! When you’ve arrived at the course website, look for the “Sign In” area along the right hand side just under the banner. Click “log in” (or on “site admin” if you are already logged on). You will be prompted to enter your CofC User Name (what comes before the “@” in your CofC e-mail address) and Password. Please note that this is your official CofC password: if your CofC password changes, this password changes.
Once you are logged in, if you aren’t immediately routed to the “Dashboard,” go to the “Sign In” area on the right.
The two items on the Dashboard that will be most important—both along the left-hand side column—are the links for “Posts” and “Profile.” Through the “Profile” link, you can change things like how you want your name to appear in your post using the “Nickname” function. You will likely need to use at least your first name so your teacher and classmates can identify you.
Once you set up the user name that you want displayed, you’ll want to click on the “Posts” link, which is where you will compose, design, and publish your posts. Clicking on “Posts” should reveal a sub-menu. Click on “Add New.” You’ll see a prompt in the main part of the page that says “Enter your title here” and then a text box below. Offer an engaging post title and type away in the text box below! Rather than work in the small space provided, you can toggle between the small text box and a larger text box by clicking on the icon with arrows pointing to the four corners in the composition toolbar (above the text box). In order to save or update your post, however, you must return to the small text box screen. You can save posts that are still in progress as a draft if you want to check it later before you “Publish” it. You can also “Preview” the post. The “Preview,” “Publish,” and “Save Draft” buttons are all on the upper-right side of the Dashboard. I encourage you to review all posts so you can check the links and the general aesthetics of the post. You can always go back and edit your own published posts.
To the right of the composition box, you will see a “category” widget. Make sure you select the correct category (CloseReads, NovelWorlds, or AfterShocks) to your post.
Blog posts are great because they can point (link) to other things online. You can also make them visually appealing by adding pictures and videos. All of these things help bring a blog post to life. Below, I offer instructions on how to move beyond mere text posts.
To add a link: In order to link to other blogs or news items or anything else online, you need to add a link. You’ll see the “link” button (it looks like two links of a chain) above the text box in the composition toolbar. Highlight the text in your post that you want linked and click on the “link” button. You’ll be prompted to enter (cut-and-paste) a URL (web address). Make sure the “http://” tag doesn’t appear twice. In the same dialog box, you will be asked whether you want to open link in new window–I would prefer you select that option.
To include a picture: Click on the picture-frame icon to the right of the “Upload/Insert” prompt at the top-left of the composition box. Remember to select the size (small thumbnail, larger image, etc.) and alignment (left, center, right). You have to press the “upload picture” button at the bottom of the insert-picture dialog box to officially upload the post. Once the picture is uploaded intp your post, you can change its size and/or location, add a caption, or check out the advanced features by clicking on the picture itself, and clicking on the icon in the upper-right of the picture. Please also link your photo to the website from which you borrowed it (see linking instructions above). Give credit where credit is due. You can save online images as JPEGs and follow instructions above for inserting them, or you can simply cut and paste and alter the specs once the picture is already in your post. Not all picture formats translate well, though, so cutting and pasting from online, while easier, can sometime create more problems.
To add video: Simply click on the youtube (or other) video you would like to upload and cut-and-paste the URL (web address) directly into your post. You’re done! If you want more control over the appearance of the video (border color, framing, size, etc,) you can click “embed” and insert the code. But in order to do this, you need to click over to the HTML tab at the top-right of the composition box. Remember to switch back to the “Visual” tab after you insert the code, however, as that’s the easiest interface for composing your post.
Embedding: I described above how to incorporate a youtube video using the “embed” feature. But you can embed much more: PDFs, Word documents (through websites like Scribd.com and flipsnack.com), slide shows (using flickr and other photo programs), prezi presentations, tiki-toki timelines, and more. For all these options, you simply need to find the “embed” code (usually provided through a “share” or “embed” button) and cut-and-paste it into the HTML composition box. You can easily can toggle between the “visual” mode and the “HTML” mode in the upper-right corner of the blog composition box.
Adding Tags: When you compose a post, it will help readers of the blog if you offer 1-3 keywords what will help identify your post. If you are enrolled in the Honors First-Year Experience course (BGS) you will be required to add tags that indicate certain values- and competencies-related keywords for your blog reflections. In order to insert a tag, look for the “Post Tags” box to the right-hand site of the composition box (you may have to scroll down just a bit). You can choose from frequently used keywords or add new ones.
To Comment: Commenting on other posts should be self-explanatory, though make sure you are logged on–otherwise the blog server won’t accept your comment.
Good luck, and happy blogging!