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 the “sign in” button at the top left of the page. 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.
Once you are logged in, you should be routed to the “Dashboard” area where you compose your posts, add media, and set up your user profile.
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. Note that your name appears, by default, as your CofC username. Most students choose to change that.
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.
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 or other media: Click on the “add media” icon at the top-left of the composition box. You can dynamically resize image once it is in place, and also click on it to select how you want it justified. You can also insert from URL (right clicking on an image, clicking copy URL, than pasting it). Once the picture is uploaded onto 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 photo. 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.
Adding Categories and Tags: When you compose a post, please assigne a category to it on the right-hand side of the composition box. Usually you will have to un-click the “uncategoriezed” category and then click one of the three main categories. You might also offer some “tags” to help readers of the blog identify your post. 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. Note, categories as set in advance, and tags are more improvisational.
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!