Class Blogs

Every semester, the CILC hosts a number of class blogs, where each class is given its own instance of WordPress multisite, with the professor having admin rights on the main blog and each student having his or her own child blog. Over the past few years of doing so, we have come up with a suite of plugins and a specialized theme that we feel gives students and professors an easier and more enjoyable class-blogging experience, which we made open-source in 2011.

Our class blogs package consists of a group of plugins, packaged as an easy-to-use single MU plugin, that provides features that are commonly used by classes, such as word counting, automatic approval of student comments, an auto-updating YouTube class playlist and, most importantly, aggregation of student posts, comments and tags. These plugins are then used by a custom theme that is run on the main page of the blog. This theme shows student posts in columns, with the student who has made the most recent post appear as the first column on the page. In addition to showing the student’s name and posts, each column also displays the number of posts and comments created by the student. The default widgets in the sidebar also provide quick and easy access to student data, as they default to a list of all student blogs, a sitewide tag cloud, and recent sitewide comments.

classblogs_screenshot_01

These plugins are then used by a custom theme that is run on the main page of the blog. This theme shows student posts in columns, with the student who has made the most recent post appear as the first column on the page. In addition to showing the student’s name and posts, each column also displays the number of posts and comments created by the student. The default widgets in the sidebar also provide quick and easy access to student data, as they default to a list of all student blogs, a sitewide tag cloud, and recent sitewide comments.

All that needs to be done to install the class blogs package is to copy the mu-plugins directory and the custom theme to a WordPress installation that conforms to our architecture. These files, along with more detailed instructions and descriptions of each plugin, are freely available at theĀ Class Blogs GitHub repository.