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Starting a blog: the basics

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First, here are some links to start with:
Creating a blog
  1. Go to http://blog.lib.umn.edu
  2. In your toolbar, under the Create menu, choose Blog. Create > Blog
  3. Blog name = your choice
  4. Template set = you should choose Classic Blog template. It has the simplest interface and the most preset styles available to it. I think it will function in the way that you want it to.
  5. Directory name = also your choice, but this will impact the URL. Your URL will look like: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/anorden/[directory name]
  6. Time Zone and Language, also your choice.
Giving people access to your blog
By default, as the creator, you have "blog administrator" access. See this page for information about blog administrator and other roles. http://www.movabletype.org/documentation/administrator/managing-users/roles.html

Go to Manage > Users, then click Add Users to this Blog. You can enter several University IDs separated by a comma and a space. For example: heinz062, anorden, goldy001, gopher002
Check boxes underneath for all the roles you would like these individuals to have. My guess is that you will add Holly Littlefield (littl009) first as blog administrator. Then, you will go into Add Users to this Blog once more and add a comma-delimited list of the class' students. They should probably have author or contributor status. The difference: an author can publish their entries whereas a contributor writes an entry to be approved by the blog administrator.

Setting the comment permissions
Go to Preferences > Comment. I'm assuming you want to accept comments, but from whom? If you only want the students to be able to comment, choose the"Any authenticated commenters (any U of M Internet ID will be allowed to post comments)" option. If you choose "Anyone", you will be susceptible to spam, but if you had a non-U of M audience, this would be a necessary evil. Save any changes you make.

Spam

Styles (the look of your blog)
By default, your blog will look maroon, gold and black, if I'm not mistaken. Go to Manage > Styles and click on MT 4 Style Library. You can pick any style out of this library, and it should work just fine.

Configure your entry defaults and enabling the Rich Text editor
The default format for entries will be something called "Convert Line Breaks". Essentially that means that everything is written as HTML except that carriage returns will be interpreted as line breaks. I prefer to give authors a Rich Text editor option, much like Notepad or Google Docs.

Go to Preferences > Entry. Switch the default text formatting to Rich Text.

Categories
Are you planning on having the students organize their entries by category? An example categorical organization would be by assignment (Assignment #1, Week 1 Assignment, etc.) By organizing similar entries, this could help with grading. Go to Manage > Categories and create some top-level categories that the student will see on the right-hand side of a new entry form.

(Re)publish your blog
Whenever you make changes to your blog, you will either be asked if you want to re-publish or you will have to re-publish manually for the changes to take effect. This occurs automatically for some pages when a new entry or comment is published. If you need to re-publish manually, look for the circle of arrows icon located in your horizontal toolbar, next to Create, Manage, Design, Preferences, etc.

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