Skip to Content
Palomar College Learning For Success

Academic Technology Resources Centers

Enhancing teaching and learning for students and faculty of Palomar College

Menu

Author: Chris Norcross

What’s New in WordPress 3.5

Now that the Palomar College WordPress system has been updated to version 3.5, this would be a good time to write about some of the changes you can expect to see when managing your sites. Here’s a rundown of the most important new stuff:

All New Media Uploader

The biggest change in version 3.5 of WordPress is the new media manager. Adding images or documents to a post or page is now easier. The new Insert Media screen, seen below, is much more streamlined. This is very helpful when uploading multiple files or creating image galleries.

Insert Media screen in WordPress 3.5

The new Insert Media screen in WordPress 3.5

Embedding Media

A feature that many do not know about is the ability to easily embed content from some third-party sites such as YouTube, Twitter, or Flickr. With WordPress 3.5, it is now possible to easily embed content from additional sites such as SlideshareInstagram, and SoundCloud. What makes this feature so great is that it is simple to use. All you do is paste a URL to content on any of the supported sites and it will embed the content in your post or page. For example, to embed audio from Soundcloud just copy the URL from the clip you want to embed from your browser’s address bar and paste it into a WordPress post. It will embed a player right on the page like this:

 

New Default Theme: Twenty Twelve

There is a new default theme for WordPress called Twenty Twelve that sports an attractive, minimal design. It is also responsive, meaning that it adapts to different screen sizes. As more of our users are browsing our sites with phones and tablets, responsive web design is becoming very important.

Twenty Twelve WordPress theme

The new default WordPress theme, Twenty Twelve.

 

 

Other Changes

The changes listed above are the most prominent but there are many more that you may not even notice including:

  • Remote publishing option turned on by default
  • Privacy settings moved to the Settings -> Reading area
  • All new Welcome screen for new WordPress sites

WordPress keeps getting easier to use and more powerful at the same time. If you have any questions or comments about WordPress 3.5 please use the comment box below.

Inserting Links Into WordPress Pages and Posts

Links to webpages and files are a basic part of the web. In fact, without them it wouldn’t be much of a ‘web’. The WordPress content editor makes it easy to insert new links and edit existing ones. There are three types of links that will commonly be inserted:

  • Internal pages or posts – These are links to pages or posts within your own WordPress site. WordPress makes it really easy to choose which existing page or post to link to.
  • External websites or files – Anything that is outside of your WordPress site is an an external link. WordPress allows you to specify a URL for any external content.
  • Internal files – The WordPress content editor makes it really easy to upload a file and link to it, all in one simple interface.
The following video demonstrates how to insert all three types of links:

How to Disable Comments in WordPress

One of the most frequently asked questions about using WordPress for managing a website is:

How do I disable the comments on a page or post?

While the comment system in WordPress works really well and can be a great way to get feedback, there are many instances when comments from site visitors are not necessary or appropriate. By default, the option for a site visitor to leave a comment is on. It is not obvious how to turn comments off when creating or editing a page because the option is initially hidden.

The following short video shows how to disable comments on a page or post and how to change the default setting so that comments are off when creating new content.

Customizing Menus in WordPress

Managing navigation menus on a website is usually a difficult task. WordPress takes way most of the difficulty of creating menus and, some would say, even makes it fun. In fact, on many WordPress sites the menu will automatically be configured as you create each new page. Page settings such as the ‘Parent Page’ and ‘Order’ allow you to control where in the menu the page will be listed.

There are, however, many cases where the menu needs to be customized. For example, if you need to add a link to a third-party webpage or add a post category.

The following video, part of the “Getting Started with WordPress” series, demonstrates how to create and manage a custom menu:

httpvh://youtu.be/RTn8iQRYbRU

Creating a New Page in WordPress

If you intend to use WordPress  as more than just a blog, and in my opinion you should at least consider it, it is necessary to understand how to create pages. While there are many similarities between creating a post and a page, there are some significant differences.

The following video gives an overview of creating a page and the various options available:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyUizX5j0RE

For more video tutorials on how to use WordPress check out the How-To page at the Palomar College WordPress Central site.

Creating New Posts in WordPress

After obtaining a new WordPress site, one of the most important tasks to learn is how to create new posts. Posts can be used in many different ways within WordPress, but their primary use is as discrete entries in a blog. The home page of a new WordPress site is what is referred to as the posts page. Any page in a WordPress site can be designated as the posts page, but the home page is the default.

Posts are a great way to get fresh information online, keeping your site from appearing stale. The beauty of WordPress is that posts are quick and easy to create.

The following video demonstrates how to create a new post and talks about many of the options when doing so:

Easy Websites with WordPress

Managing a website may not ever truly be easy, but WordPress can certainly make it easier. For those unfamiliar with WordPress, it is a web content management system that allows you to use a web browser for creating and editing a website. It can be accessed with any modern web browser from almost any internet connected computer. No special software or skills are needed.

The Palomar College Academic Technology Resource Center offers workshops on using WordPress. In particular, I would like to point out a new series of workshops called “Website in a Month”. Here’s the workshop description:

Don’t have a website? Is your existing website in need of a renovation? Whatever your needs are, this series of workshops is meant to get your website project started and finished in just 4 weeks. Using WordPress, you will learn how easy it can be to setup and manage a website. Whether you’re on your own or you have a team of people to work with, you will have a site that you can be proud of. The first meeting will cover how to get your site started and explain how the 4 week program will work.

The goal of the workshop series is to give as much hands on assistance with either creating a new site in WordPress or converting an existing site. The workshop dates/times are:

  • Tuesday, September 25, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 2, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 9, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 16, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

If you don’t yet have a WordPress site and would like a staff/faculty site to begin working with, these simple instructions will get you started: How to Create a WordPress Site [pdf]

If you are interested in creating a WordPress site for a department, discipline, or program submit a request through the ATRC Help Desk.

5 Reasons You Should Be Using Evernote

For many, Evernote is an indispensable tool. If you are not yet an Evernote user, here are five reasons that you should consider becoming one:

Capture Anything

Evernote allows you to capture almost anything and store it for later use. Notes can be text that you type in directly, a voice recording you make with a mobile device, or a photo from your smartphone. If you come across a webpage that you want to save the Evernote Web Clipper makes it as easy as clicking one button. Evernote is also a great place to store important files that you may need quick access to such as user manuals or research articles.

Access Notes Anywhere

Be it a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will be able to access and update Evernote. There are clients for Windows and Mac OS X if you want to use it on desktop and laptop computers. For mobile access, apps are available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7. If all else fails, there is a web based app that can be accessed from almost any modern browser.

Find Things Fast

The search and filtering capabilities in Evernote are incredible. Searches can be based on keywords, tags, dates,  or note types (such as images, audio, PDF, etc.). With a small amount of planning in how you use notebooks and tags it is possible to find exactly what you are looking for, whether it was created yesterday or 4 years ago. If you subscribe to Evernote premium ($5/month or $45/year), any PDF documents that you attach will be searchable as well.

Share with Friends and Colleagues

Evernote lets you share your notebooks with whoever you want. Notebooks can be made public via a link that can be posted on a webpage or included in an email. If security is important a notebook can be shared with only specific Evernote accounts. The premium version of Evernote lets you give others permission to edit shared notes for true collaboration.

Go Paperless

All of the combined features of Evernote make it possible to go almost completely paperless. Instead of printing an article from a webpage, just send it to Evernote and read it on your mobile device. The built in PDF functionality make it easy to scan a document, save it to Evernote, and find it whenever or wherever you need it.

A Brief Introduction to Google Docs

Google Docs is a service offered by Google that offers the ability to create, edit, manage, and share documents online. It is possible to make text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms. Google Docs can be compared to software suites such as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice but is housed online so that it can be accessed from almost any computer or device with an internet connection. Assuming that you have a compatible device with access to the internet, the only other requirement is that you have a Google Account.

After signing in to Google Docs, the Docs list is displayed. The Docs list is the command center for creating and managing all of the document types.

The Google Docs list

The Docs list is where you create new documents or edit and manage existing ones.

Any existing docs can be viewed or edited by clicking on its name in the list. To create a new document click the Create button. The type of document must be selected. Whether editing an existing doc or creating a new one, the interface will be familiar to anyone who has used an office suite application.

 

Editing a document

When editing a document the interface has many features that are similar to that of traditional word processing applications.

It is possible to upload documents to Google Docs as well. Almost any type of file can be uploaded. For many file types Google Docs can automatically convert it to the appropriate Doc type. For example, a Excel spreadsheet file can be converted to a Google Docs spreadsheet. Once a file is converted it can be edited just as easily as one that was originally created in Google Docs. Similarly, any Google Doc can be downloaded to a computer or device by first opening the doc and then choosing “Download as” from the File menu.

The sharing features of Google Docs is where it really shines. A document can be shared in multiple ways:

  • A doc can be emailed directly to someone as an attachment.
  • A link to a doc can be placed on a website or in another document.
  • Another person’s Google Account can be specified allowing that person to see the doc in their own Google Docs list.

If a link is placed on a website (or elsewhere), any changes to the document after the link was provided will be seen by users clicking on the link. If the doc is shared with another person’s account they can optionally be given editing, commenting, or ownership rights to it. These sharing features make Google Docs a great tool for collaborating with others.

For more information about Google Docs, checkout the recording of the Google Docs webinar that was offered by the Academic Technology Resource Center on April 10, 2012.

WordPress Themes from ElegantThemes Now Available

We began offering WordPress sites at Palomar College during summer 2011. Anyone who has used WordPress already knows just how powerful themes can be. Themes allow you to change the look (and sometimes the behavior) of your site with just a couple clicks of the mouse. There are over a thousand themes available for free at WordPress.org. Many of them are very attractive and easy to use. For those who are looking for something even better, I am happy to announce that we now have all 72 of the premium themes offered by ElegantThemes available for use on our Palomar hosted WordPress sites. These themes are, to put it mildly, beautiful. Here is an example of one of their themes:

The DeepFocus theme from ElegantThemes

For those who do not already have a WordPress site at Palomar, it is easy to create one. If you already have a WordPress site, choosing a new theme is easy. Just log in to your WordPress site, go to the Dashboard, and choose Appearance -> Themes. Form there you will be able to browse through all of the available themes and activate the one that you would like to use.

Important note: The preview option does not work for many of the themes from ElegantThemes. To get an idea of what they look like and what features they have I recommend browsing through them at the ElegantThemes website. Once you find one you like, go back to your own WordPress dashboard and activate it.