get blogging!

All students in the class are “Authors” on our course website. This means you will need to sign in to the site, which you can do at the “Sign In” area along the right hand side of the course blog site. (You may have to scroll down a bit).  Click “log in” and you will be prompted to enter your CofC User Name (what comes before the “@” in your CofC e-mail address) and Password—your official College password.  (Important note: The password for accessing PDF articles within the blog is different; I’ll tell you that in class.)

Once you are logged in you should be immediately directed to the “Dashboard” —where all the behind-the-scenes stuff is located. (If for some reason you aren’t, go to the “Sign In” box on the right again and click “Site Admin,” which will give you access to the “Dashboard” for our class website.)

The two items on the Dashboard that will be most important are links for “Posts” and, if you scroll down, “Users.” (These are both along the left-hand side.) In the “Users” link, you can change things like how you want your name to appear in your post using the “Nickname” function (where I hope you will all go and enter your first name and, if you have a name that is more common, such as Ashley or Lauren, your last initial or last name).

Once you set up the user name that you want displayed, you’ll want to click on the “Posts” link, which is where the real action happens.  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 what you’ve done as a draft if you want to check it later before you “Publish” it—but do remember that you’ve only saved and not posted, or you’re likely to think you’ve actually published it when you haven’t yet.  You can also “Preview” the post, though again, remember to publish it eventually.  The “Preview,” “Publish,” and “Save Draft” buttons are all on the upper-right-hand side of the Dashboard. I encourage you to review all posts so you can check the links and the general aesthetics of this post.

Because all of your posts will appear on the homepage as a single stream of content, please add a more quicktag after about four lines of text.  Your post will then appear as an excerpt, or “teaser,” compelling readers to click to continue reading.  The quicktag is located above the composition field, with all the other formatting buttons.  It looks like this:

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 toolbar.  Highlight the text in your post that you want linked and click on the “link” icon.  You’ll be prompted to enter a URL (web address). Make sure the “http://” tag doesn’t appear twice (the web host includes it automatically, so if you copy and paste an address, you might end up with duplicate “http://”s).  In the same dialog box, you will be asked to set a “target.”  Select the “open link in new window” option.  Don’t worry about anything else in that dialog box.  It is easiest to cut-and-paste the link rather than enter it in manually (and errors are commonly made in the process of typing the addresses).

If you want to include a picture: Click on the picture-frame icon to the right of the “Upload/Insert” prompt at the top of the text box. Remember to select how you want the picture to appear (small thumbnail, larger image, etc.) and the alignment (left, center, right). You have to press the “upload picture” button at the bottom or the picture will not appear.  Once the picture is uploaded in your post, you can change its size and/or location by clicking on it.  You will have the option to delete it, or, by clicking on the frame icon on the picture itself, further manipulate it.

To add video: In the Dashboard text box, you will see an option to select a “Visual” or a “HTML” tab. Most of the time you need to type in “Visual” mode.  For video, however, you will select HTML when you’re ready to place a video.  Once you’re on the HTML tab, go to your YouTube video.  Below the video, click on the “embed” button.  A bunch of code should appear.  Choose the options you want in terms of the video’s appearance (frame color, etc.).  Then, cut and paste the code over to the HTML box on the Dashboard.  (Be sure the cursor is where you want the video to go within your post first).  This will give you a reasonably sized video embed.  If you just cut and paste the web address into the visual box, a video appears, but it’s large and it slows the page down a bit when scrolling.

When you finish your post: Remember, you have to press “Publish” on the right-hand side of the page in order for your post to go live.  You can also “preview” it first, or save it as a draft and return to it later.  Another very important point: You can always publish it, and edit it again later if you notice something is amiss.

Commenting on other posts should be self-explanatory (like what you do in Facebook), but please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.