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Weekly Web Updates – April 20

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

New WordPress themes available

The following themes are now available in sites.middlebury.edu and sites.miis.edu.

Updates

  • WordPress plugin updates:
    • WPtouch Mobile
    • Subscribe2
    • Schedule Posts Calendar
    • Resize Image After Upload
    • Redirection
    • Post Types Order
    • NextGen Gallery
    • MailPoet Newsletters
    • Akismet
    • Liveblog
    • Email Users
    • CM Tooltip Glossary
    • Blog ID In Site Admin Menu
    • BBPress
    • QTranslate-X

Known Issues

  • We’ve been noticing periodic stability issues with the web-server that hosts the GO application. We anticipate that these issues will be resolved by an upcoming system update.

Tweaks and Fixes

      Fixed a broken view that was preventing

faculty-housing listings

    from displaying.

7 Innovative Midd Course Sites in WordPress

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Have you considered using WordPress as a course website, but aren’t sure how it might look? Are you using it already, but curious about new ideas? Here’s a sneak peek at how other Middlebury faculty have been doing it.

Simple Websites
Create a simple website with WordPress by hiding its blog features. Make “Pages” for your content (e.g., syllabus, lecture outlines, and assignment overviews), then from the Settings > Reading menu, change your blog’s front page to a “static page.”

history-american-women
History of American Women (login to view)

Share Course Materials and Announcements
Use WordPress’s blog “Posts” to share timely announcements with your class, and create “Pages” for static content like your syllabus, schedule, and resources that students need often.

modern-chinese-politics
Modern Chinese Politics

Sharing & Publishing Student Work
Publish student work informally on the web, or give students a way to share their work with other members of the class. By elevating students’ role in your site to Contributor or higher (Users > Change Role To…), students can post to the course site themselves. WordPress’s Privacy settings give you control over whether student work is limited to just the class or beyond (Settings > Reading).

political-economy-gmos
Political Ecology of GMOs
Solvitur Ambulando
Middlebury Studio Art

Digital Class Project
An entire class might collaborate to produce an archival and educational resource that lives on well after the course ends. LIS can provide extra support for ambitious projects.

chicago-freedom-movement
Chicago Freedom Movement

Multi-Purpose
WordPress is flexible. Use it for a combination of posting course content, creating interactive opportunities for students, and as a platform to share student work.

inferno
The Keys to Dan Brown’s Inferno

No matter which approach you adopt, your WordPress site can be visible to anyone on the web, limited to Middlebury account holders, or private to just the students in your course.

To create a WordPress site for your course, visit the Course Hub  > Manage Resources > Add a Resource > WordPress and follow the steps. Your LIS liaison is available to discuss ways you might use WordPress, walk you through the process, and provide additional support.

A footnote to your blog

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Thanks to a request by the New England Review, a new plugin called Simple Footnotes and Simple Footnotes Editor Button can be activated on your WordPress site for fast, elegant, hyperlinked footnotes.

First, activate Simple Footnotes under the Plugins menu at your WordPress Dashboard. When you create a new post or page, you’ll notice a new ab1 button in the editing toolbar.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.00.40 PM

When you’re ready to add a footnote, click that new button:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.04.27 PM

Type the text of your footnote in the Insert a footnote box that pops up and then Insert.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.08.14 PM

Use the Preview button to see how your footnotes look. While in edit mode, you’ll only see “tags” around your footnotes, like this = [ref]. Don’t fear! Your footnotes will look wonderful to the rest of the world once you publish your post or page, like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.14.19 PM

And at the bottom of your page, your footnote will look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.15.34 PM

Group support added to WordPress

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We are pleased to announce the addition of a much-awaited feature to our WordPress site network. As of today groups added to sites can automatically maintain their membership over time. Site administrators will no longer have to go back into WordPress and regularly bulk-add groups to grant access to new group members.

In the WordPress Dashboard
When you add users to a WordPress site by group the new default option is to keep the group in sync:

Adding a new group to a site, keeping the group in sync.

Adding a new group to a site.
Note the new “Keep in Sync” option.

All users currently in the group will be added to the site with the role you specified. Members of the group who already have a role with greater abilities will not have their permissions reduced. Members of the group who already have a role with less abilities will be raised to the role specified for the group.

The groups synced are shown in a list and can be removed if desired.

The groups synced are shown in a list and can be removed if desired.

Over time, as people are added to the group, their roles in the site will be updated whenever they log into WordPress. If a person is removed from a group they will have their role in the site removed when they log into WordPress if their role hasn’t been manually changed to a different level.

More details about group-synchronization are available in the LIS Wiki.

In the Course Hub
In tandem with this new feature in the WordPress dashboard, the Course Hub now automatically adds class-groups to WordPress sites when adding WordPress Resources. When you add a WordPress Resource to the Course Hub the screen now includes an option that lets you specify what role to give students in the WordPress site. (Instructors will always be administrators of the site.)

Choose which role to give students in the WordPress site.

Choose which role to give students in the WordPress site.

When you save the WordPress Resource in the Course Hub three class-groups (instructors, students, and audits) are added to WordPress site and kept in sync. Instructors no longer need to do the extra step of going to WordPress and adding the class-groups to the site. As well, new students enrolled during the “Add/Drop Period” will automatically have access to the WordPress site when they log in after their enrollment has processed.

The instructors, students, and audits groups are automatically added to WordPress by the Course Hub.

The instructors, students, and audits groups are automatically added to WordPress by the Course Hub.

If you delete the WordPress Resource from the Course Hub the users and class-groups it added will be removed from the WordPress site, however the site itself will not be deleted automatically.

Looking back at comment-spam in WordPress

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In February 2012 we started noticing a large influx of new comment-spam coming into our sites.middlebury.edu WordPress system that the built-in anti-spam plugins weren’t able to handle. To combat this annoying plague we created a new plugin that instantly killed any comments trying to submit an “author URL” along with the “author name” and “comment text” now that the “author URL” field is hidden.

In the year and a half since this plugin has been in place across our blog network it has blocked an average of 40,000 spam comments every month.

+------+-------+--------------+
| year | month | spam blocked |
+------+-------+--------------+
| 2012 |     3 |       14,814 |
| 2012 |     4 |       19,956 |
| 2012 |     5 |       18,225 |
| 2012 |     6 |       15,937 |
| 2012 |     7 |       29,232 |
| 2012 |     8 |       24,073 |
| 2012 |     9 |       25,973 |
| 2012 |    10 |       42,514 |
| 2012 |    11 |       49,265 |
| 2012 |    12 |      106,128 |
| 2013 |     1 |      103,850 |
| 2013 |     2 |       72,944 |
| 2013 |     3 |       38,336 |
| 2013 |     4 |       35,125 |
| 2013 |     5 |       32,975 |
| 2013 |     6 |       35,011 |
| 2013 |     7 |       28,218 |
+------+-------+--------------+

While some spam is bound to get past any automated filtering, we hope that these efforts have alleviated most of the hassle of dealing with spam comments in WordPress.

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Embed Google Docs in your Posts

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

This plugin requires little in the way of explanation. If you have a document hosted on Google Docs or Google Drive and want to embed it in a blog post or page, enable the Google Docs Shortcode plugin in your site’s administration interface. This plugin supports embedding documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. You can use some shortcode like this to add your documents:

[gdoc link="LINK_TO_GOOGLE_DOC" height="600"]

Documentation on getting the link for the shortcode is available at that link. As an example, here’s are presentation slides from a session I gave on our Drupal architecture:

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Embed Google Docs in your Posts

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

This plugin requires little in the way of explanation. If you have a document hosted on Google Docs or Google Drive and want to embed it in a blog post or page, enable the Google Docs Shortcode plugin in your site’s administration interface. This plugin supports embedding documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. You can use some shortcode like this to add your documents:

[gdoc link="LINK_TO_GOOGLE_DOC" height="600"]

Documentation on getting the link for the shortcode is available at that link. As an example, here’s are presentation slides from a session I gave on our Drupal architecture: