Learn More About UR Blogs
Most people know WordPress for its blogging capabilities, and while personal publishing remains at its core, WordPress has expanded far beyond those humble beginnings. The same software we use on this site now runs almost 32% of all websites in the world, for a 60% market share among websites that use a content management system. To see the wide array of sites WordPress has been used to create, feel free to browse the WordPress Showcase.
Usage of our campus installation of WordPress, called UR Blogs, typically falls into one of five categories: course discussion; course projects and exhibits; department and research lab sites; student organizations; and personal sites. Use the tabs below to explore these different categories, browse the site gallery for examples of sites created on UR Blogs, contact your CTLT liaison if you have questions, or request a site if you’re ready to get started.
- Course Discussion
- Course Projects & Exhibits
- Department & Research Lab Sites
- Student Organizations
- Personal Sites
One of the simplest ways to use UR Blogs in the classroom is the centralized model. In this approach, students all contribute to a single site, while the faculty member controls how that information is organized and displayed. Students have control over what they post, while faculty members have decision-making ability over who can access the site, and whether that information remains available after the course is over.
Advantages to this model include an easier and faster setup process, as only the faculty member needs to establish a site. Depending on what is expected from them, students may be able to participate without logging in, or may log in with their existing UR NetID. Keeping all course activity in one place (instead of distributed between a central site and student portfolios) also makes it easier for students to keep track of where they should be submitting work.
This model is recommended for courses in which all students will take part in considering and discussing the same topics. For example, an “Interpretations of the Bible” course might ask a few students to post reflections on each class session as a way to start discussion, and then ask other students to continue the conversations by leaving comments on each post.
Similarly, a “Politics of Presidential Elections” course might encourage students to share and comment on recent news stories, including collecting tweets, videos, and other media. This course might use the available privacy options to restrict participation, or even viewing the site, to those whom the faculty member has approved.
The technical skill level required to use this model is low. CTLT Liaisons are available to help faculty establish and build a site, and also to schedule class visits to help students understand how to use the site. Even if students do not have previous experience with WordPress specifically, many of the tasks they need to perform will be familiar to those who have participated in online discussion forums.
One of the most flexible ways to use UR Blogs in the classroom is the project model. In this approach, students each have their own site on UR Blogs where they not only publish their work, but also choose how their work is organized and displayed to visitors. Meanwhile, the faculty member establishes a central course site which includes links to, and/or automatically publishes selected content from, the students’ individual sites. The faculty member retains control over how work is organized and displayed on the central site.
Advantages to this model include ease of use for both faculty and students, who only have to visit one site (the central site) to see the work done by all students in the course. In addition to learning course material, students who use this model also gain practical experience using WordPress, which powers almost 32% of all websites, and leave the course with a completed project website they own and can refer to on internship and job applications.
This model is recommended for courses in which students are working on similarly structured but distinct projects. For example, an “American Music of the 1960s” class might ask each student to conduct research on a particular musical artist, and to design their sites using colors, images, and other media that help represent that artist and their genre. Sites about Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin would likely contain the same types of information, while looking very different from one another.
Similarly, a “Biology of Cancer” class might break students into groups, and ask each group to conduct research about recent developments and breakthroughs related to a particular cancer treatment. Sites about surgery, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplants might all have a similar visual design, but may include different types of information or need to use slightly different organizational structures.
The technical skill level required to use this model can be very low. Faculty members are welcome to contact their CTLT Liaison for help in establishing the central site, including setting up the mechanism that automatically pulls in student work. Liaisons can also help with the creation of student portfolios, including pre-populating them with organizational structures and sample content. Last but not least, we are happy to schedule class visits to introduce students to the portfolio model and demonstrate how to use it.