Welcome to TECHStyle

Welcome to TECHStyle! This site is designed to serve three basic functions.

First, it houses the official Brittain Fellow Handbook. You can find the Handbook under “Handbook” on the Navigation bar.

Second, it hosts a blog network that may be used by any Brittain Fellow interested in maintaining a weblog of their teaching and research activities. The blog network can also be used to advertise events, host videos and podcasts of conferences and symposia, and feature profiles of Brittain Fellow alumni. Important or interesting blog posts will be featured on the front page along with announcements and archived events.

Third, it serves as a social network for Brittain Fellows, with an activity stream, profiles, groups, and forums. Communication between individual profiles is also possible TECHStyle is based on the latest version of WordPress (3.0.1). It also uses Buddypress (a basic social network bundle created for the WordPress CMS), PSAuto Sitemap (a dynamic plugin that creates a quick map for easy navigation), TwitterTools (a Twitter feed for Brittain Fellows), and Breadcrumb Navigation XT (creates a dynamic breadcrumb trail for enhanced navigation). Having said that, TECHStyle is still a pretty basic site. We hope that — with time, experience, and the insights of Brittain Fellows — we will be able to adapt this site to serve the needs of the program. Here are some basic things to remember when using the site:

Remember your login and password: Logins are generally your first and last name. Passwords are emailed with the TECHStyle invitation and can be changed at any time.

Use the Dashboard Effectively: WordPress is based upon a dashboard system. The basic functions of the dashboard can be viewed by looking at the navigation board on the left side of the dashboard. For detailed information about how to use the dashboard, please check out this video tutorial:

Be active in Buddypress and Social Networking on the Site: TECHStyle uses the Buddypress system for social networking, forums and individual communication between members. Each of you should have been emailed a “Welcome Pack” for Buddypress when you became members. Take a look at the Welcome Pack for detailed information on how to use the Buddypress features of this site.

Blog: Blogging on TECHStyle is pretty easy, especially if you have used WordPress before. The new feature for this website is the ability to create new Blog sites. If you wish to have a blog site of your own, you will need to email one of the site administrators. They will ask you for a name for your blog (the default is “firstnamelastname”), and create your blog. Many of the following directions are paraphrased and adapted from Jason Whittaker’s Using Your Blog.

  • Accessing: Select “MyBlogs” from the top menu on the TECHStyle front page. This will show a pre-made post with a single sentence “Hello World!” You will want to edit this to make your first post.
  • Blog Settings: Click on the “Settings” link and look at the default settings of your blog.
    • General: The tagline for your site is set to read “Just another TECHStyle Sites site.” You will want to edit this before posting.
    • Writing: This subsection lists categories and tags for your posts. Categories and tags are used on the site to organize your posts.
    • Reading: Here you can change what people see on the front page of your blog.
    • Discussion: You can enable or disable comments on this page.
    • Media: You can determine the size of video files or change settings for other types of media on this page.
    • Permalinks: This changes the settings for how URLs are calculated for your pages. If you don’t have a reason to change these, leave them alone.
  • Blog Appearance: The default theme is TwentyTen. A future post will cover all the things youc an do with TwentyTen. But you can also change many things about your blog’s appearance.
    • Themes: As I said before, TwentyTen is the default. But the theme network also features the flexible theme Atahualpa and the flashy Mystique theme. As we get a sense of Brittain Fellow needs, we will add more themes to the network.
    • Widgets: Widgets add new functionality to your site. For example, you can add a calendar that lists all blogs posted on a particular site. To use a widget, simply go to “widget” under appearance, select a widget, drag and drop that widget into the sidebar where you wish it to be located.
    • Menus: The ability to create custom menus is one of the big innovations of WordPress 3.0. For more detailed information on how to use custom menus, please see the site: http://bavatuesdays.com/wordpress-3-0-you-had-me-at-custom-menus/.
    • Background and Header: The TwentyTen theme allows you to change the backgroudna nd header. You can do that here.
  • Adding a New Blog Post: On the “Hello World!” post you found at the beginning of this tutorial, click “Edit.” This will bring up a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, along with an .html editor. If you are comfortable using .html, by all means use it.
    • Categories and Tags: Categories and tags are used to organize your posts within the site. If, for example, you create a post about pedagogy, you might want to create a pedagogy tag to group all of your pedagogy-related posts. As this site on optimizing your WordPress Blog shows, you shouldn’t confuse tags with categories. Both do the same thing, but “[c]ategories are your file cabinet draw where you file a document under one particular topic. Tags allow you to describe your post in more specific terms that help people find your information. By properly tagging your posts with relevant keywords, you help people find and cross reference your post with others.”
    • Status, Visibility, and Update: The status of your blog shows you if a post is published, pending review (for moderated posts), or is still in draft form. The visibility link shows who can see your post. You may want to set it to public (for everyone), password protected, or private (only you can see it). Click publish or update to publish or update your blog.

Moderating Comments: Sometimes you will want to delete certain comments. You can set whether people can comment on your blog in the Discussion settings. If you go to comments you will see a site that allows you to accept, reject, or edit comments that have been published to your blog.

Hopefully, these suggestions will allow you to use TECHStyle effectively, at least in a basic capacity. Subsequent posts will look at more advanced practices. Enjoy!

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