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Teaching with a site opens up possibilities for increased customization, integrating various digital tools, and writing for a public audience.

Sites are highly customizable. Themes allow instructors to determine the design elements of the site including custom header images and colors. Custom Menus allow instructors to determine the information architecture of the site. Plugins allow instructors to add extra functionality such as tallying students posts or integrating digital tools like timelines or maps. Sites have various privacy settings from completely private tp publicly visible.

For more information about WordPress Basics see here.

 

Getting Started

To get up and running easily, the Common team created a Teaching Template for sites. Sites created using this template come pre-populated with pages for your Syllabus and Course Schedule, and post categories for Resources.

 

Building the Site & Adding Content

To create a site, you will need to register and log into the Commons. One you are logged in, click “Sites” in the main menu along the top of the home page. This will take you to the Creation Portal where you can select to “Create a Site”. More directions for creating groups and sites are here.

The two main ways to add content to a site are Pages and Posts. Pages are best used for static  information, like syllabus details or basic course information. Posts are better for creating multiple entries on a topic (i.e. Resources added to the site over the course of the semester). Posts can be organized using “categories” to sort them into specific topics areas. Posts are like blog entries or short articles and Pages are a good place for more basic information about the course or site.

Courses that use sites often share the course materials (syllabus, course schedule, assignment directions) as pages on the site. Students often  turn in assignments or share weekly reading responses as posts on the site. Sometimes, students and instructors offer feedback and engage in discussion on the site by commenting on posts.

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Course Models

Courses can just share course materials, or students can interact on the site. It all depends on the instructor wants to use the Commons. The Commons can just be a place to get course materials, or it can be a place to turn in assignments and engage in online discussion, or it can even be a place for students to engage in a public facing project . See these Course Models for more ideas and examples for how instructors are teaching on the Commons.