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 Here” button. 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.
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 (through the User area), 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! 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.
Please also note that you can click the “private” box to the right of the composition area if you’d like to limit the audience for your post to just the people in this class.
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.
To include a picture: Click on the “Add Media” button at the top-left of the composition box. You can insert an image from a file or just cut-and-paste the image URL. Once the picture is uploaded into 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).
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 “text” 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!