Wordpress as a Website and Blogging Tool

Using WordPress has Helped me to take School Website Design and Blogging to a Whole other Level

Perhaps, one of the most exciting new tools that I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with over the last two years is WordPress.  What is WordPress?  According to iThemes, (your one stop shop for WordPress plugins), WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today.

I started out using WordPress to create a more interesting and interactive school website.  To be more accurate, it was what I referred to as the principal’s blog.  I used it to celebrate accomplishments at the school.  I posted newsletters and student videos.  I posted stories about the various technological innovations happening around the school, and publicized the new pedagogical approaches teachers were taking as more and more they infused their teaching practice with technology.

wordpress_mp6_dashboard

What I found appealing about WordPress is that, with a little work, you can create a very appealing looking website/blog.  Wordpress provides free templates for you to work with and if you upgrade to premium, you have access to online support to answer any questions you might have about widgets and how to customize your site to your purposes.

In fact, this website, has been created using WordPress.  We started off with a simple template, which we have customized to suit the purposes of your PQP.

Some of the amazing things you should know about WordPress:

  • The wordprocessing window is very familiar and intuitive. It doesn’t give you the same range and functionality of Word or Google Sheets, but simple and clean is always better when it comes to web design.
  • If you get tired of a particular template, you can always browse the WordPress template gallery and preview what your website would look like if you applied a new template.  What’s uber cool is that it will take the content you already have posted and rearrange it using the new template as a preview – hit apply and there you have it – you can make your old content look new by changing the template.
  • You can use the URL for your website/blog provided by WordPress (which tends to be long and unweildy) or you can purchase a more manageable URL from a second party, through WordPress
  • The free templates are great if all you want to do is create a simple website or blog, but if you are looking to get access to more functional templates with greater access to widgets and tools, upgrading to premium is the way to go
  • I recently learned that you can work on WordPress and they will host your site for you, free or otherwise, or you can download WordPress (like you would an app), host your website own server or another server.
  • If you are looking for greater functionality, you can download and install various plugins that allow you to embed various feeds or tools that will really enhance the look and functionality of your site.  Some of the plugins are included as part of WordPress, others can only be installed if you download WordPress and work on a different server.
  • WordPress is a collaborative tool, in that you can set permissions to include another person to administer to the site, or you can include other authors as contributors to the site.  You can allow for interactivity and only allow posts and blogs that you have approved to appear on your site.
  • A widget is tool that allows you to embed various elements into your website or blog.  For example, if you want to embed a link from your iCalendar into your website or blog, you would use a calendar widget to do so or if you wanted to include a Twitter feed, you would have to cut and past a link provided to you from your Twitter account into a Social Media widget.

I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t spend hours working on my first site.  Of course, I picked one of the most difficult templates to work with (I have always been an overachiever), which meant I had to, with support of my online Wordpress friends (love you WordPress Elizabeth!!), learn about widgets and menu bars, etc. the hard way, but I would say it is the best most useful PD I have every allowed myself.  Well worth the time and effort to learn how to use this very powerful tool.

Lou Paonessa,  YCDSB

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