SimonSays takes a break from taking an wry and often irreverent look at the state of education in his regular haunt over at un.teachable.net to write a guest post here at Box of Tricks introducing us to some of WordPress’ most useful magazine style themes, also known as templates, that can be used for classroom blogging.
Below is his post:WordPress is the current king of blogging platforms. It’s the standard tool of the trade for professional bloggers and online publishers, and it’s what powers the blog you are reading now.
Webmasters love WordPress for its advanced features but it’s also a perfect platform for a student-run blog or online class magazine. WordPress can be hosted for free at WordPress.com, where the address of your blog would be http://yourclassblog.wordpress.com/. Alternatively, you can install the WordPress software on your own server if you want to have your own domain name (e.g. http://yourclassblog.com/) and more flexibility.
WordPress is ideal for a student blog or magazine because it supports multiple authors and is easy to adapt to a magazine-style layout, with excerpts and pictures from a lot of articles on the front page rather than the traditional one-beneath-the-other format that most other blogging platforms seem to follow.
This means that all the students can be logged-in to the site at the same time working on their articles and avoids any arguments about whose article gets to be top of the list when you publish them at the end of class.
To change the look and layout of your WordPress blog, you will need to install a new ‘theme’. There are thousands of free themes to choose from, though, so it can be confusing to start with.
To help you out, here are the five WordPress themes I’ve found work best for student-run blogs:
Mimbo has a simple look and is really easy to use. You can choose which category the ‘featured posts’ come from and how many to display. The sidebar can be altered easily by adding or removing widgets in your WordPress admin area.
Arthemia has a slightly more modern look then Mimbo. It’s easy to adjust the items in the sidebar using widgets but the options for changing the overall look are limited unless you are able to edit the code of the theme yourself.
My students loved this one because they thought it looked the coolest.
Linoluna has a nice, clean look. The main column is uncluttered and there is space for a picture with most of the articles on the front page.
You can also set the featured post (the article with the largest picture) to act as a slideshow displaying a series of different articles.
Perfect for making sure all the students get to display their work on the front page.
Magadine is great for displaying a selection of articles evenly, without putting too much emphasis on one in particular.
It’s really easy to use and even complete WordPress newbies can use it to create a professional-looking site quickly.
Hamasaki is the last of our themes for today and probably my favourite of the bunch. The reasons I like it so much are that it looks great and it’s very easy to customise.
Even if you know nothing about coding, you can change the colour of the title text and upload your own header image.
There are some spaces at for adverts, too. Although, you probably won’t want to use them for adverts, it’s really easy to put your own images in the spaces instead to personalise the template even more.
Adding multiples users and setting up themes
Setting up multiple users in WordPress is easy. Just log in, click ‘users’, select ‘add new’ then enter the details of the new author and select what level of access you want to give him or her. If you are using a blog at WordPress.com, new users will need to sign up for a free WordPress account before they are able to log into your blog.
It’s easy to adapt the look of a WordPress blog using ready-made ‘themes’, too. In your account, just go to ‘appearance’ and select, ‘Themes’. There you are able to upload your new theme or search for themes online. Once you have installed your new theme all you need to do is activate it your blog will have a new look.
Have you ever tried using WordPress for a student blog? If so, do you have any other templates to add to this list?