Setting up a blog for the course
You’ll need to set up your own blog site for this course. UBC has its own WordPress installation that is very stable and works very well. Plus, your information is stored on servers in Canada, which is not the case with some of the other blogging sites. And there is a good deal of support available for helping you with UBC Blogs, including the fact that I know how it works (not the case for some of the other platforms).
I recommend you set up a blog on UBC blogs!
Here’s a screencast video that walks you through the first steps towards setting up a blog and customizing it on UBC Blogs.
- The first steps to setting up a blog on UBC Blogs: beginning
- Changing the theme (the overall look) of your blog: starts around 2:45
- Adding a header image: starts around 4:15
- Changing colours, name of the blog site: around 5:15
- Getting rid of the sample blog posts, comments, pages if WordPress sets these up for you: starts around 8:00
Here’s a video about how to write posts and embed pictures and videos in them. It also talks about tags and categories for your posts.
- Writing a post is the very first part of the video.
- Saving your post before your publish it, and also previewing it: starts around 2:15
- Making your post password protected: 3:10
- Adding categories & tags: 4:45
- Set a feature image for a post: 6:45
- Publishing your post (making it live on your site): 8:20
- Editing post after you’ve published it: 9:00
- Adding a picture in a post, including what sorts of pictures you can/cannot use, and how to caption them: starts around 9:15
- Updating post (re-publishing new version) after you’ve edited it: 11:50
- Adding files like Word or PDF docs to a post: 12:20
- Adding a video to a post: 13:30
Here is the last video in the series, talking about what you need to do to deal with comments effectively.
- Adjusting the settings for comments: beginning of video
- Adding a plugin that lets those who are commenting click a box to get an email if someone replies to their comment: 4:10
- Adding a comment to someone else’s post and clicking the box to get an email if someone replies: 6:00
This set of FAQ on the UBC Blogs site is quite useful, I think: http://blogs.ubc.ca/faq/
This site has some good “help” pages on getting started with various features in WordPress: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons
— Note, though, that some of the pages there get to quite advanced things, and some of those are not possible on UBC Blogs (you’d have to install WordPress on your own server to do some of them). The “Beginners” section is useful, though!
Using images in your blog posts
If you want to include images, here is information on finding images that are either public domain or that are licensed to allow reuse/reposting: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:PDCCLicenses
Be sure you put information about whether the image is public domain or licensed for re-use, either in the caption of the image or elsewhere in the blog post.
Be sure not to post any images that you don’t show clearly are public domain or licensed for re-use.
Instructions for writing blog posts, including when you need to do so
This document was also handed out in class, but here it is in case you want quick reference or have lost it! Downloadable versions are linked below (they are the same document in two different formats), and then the text of the document follows for quick reading.
Arts One, Hendricks seminar, 2016-2017
Everyone will need to set up a blog site, either on the UBC Blogs system or somewhere else, and your posts will be collected to our seminar site (https://a1hendricks.arts.ubc.ca) as well as to a site that collects all Arts One blog posts: http://artsone-open.arts.ubc.ca.
Instructions for how to set up a blog on the UBC Blogs system are on our website, under “course materials” and “blog instructions”: https://a1hendricks.arts.ubc.ca/ If you’re having any trouble with anything about setting up a blog, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are options for being public, staying private, or being anonymous, though:
- You can make all your blog posts public, with your real name, or
- You can make your posts public but with a pseudonym, or
- You can use a password on your posts that the class knows, so only people from the class can see them (if you’d like to do this, please let me know so I can set up a password to share with everyone), or
Please talk to me if you’d like to do one of the last two options, because it’s a little complicated and it will be easier if I walk you through the steps! If you are very concerned about writing things that others could see, even just those in the class, please talk to me as well and we’ll see what we can work out.
Here’s what you’ll need to after you set up your site.
- First off, please write a first blog post that just introduces yourself
This is partly to help us get to know each other, and partly for technical reasons: I’m going to be collecting all the blog posts onto our course site, and to do that I first need to have everyone have at least one post on their site.
You can talk about where you’re from, or what drew you to Arts One, or what you’re excited to read, or anything else you’d like to share to help us get to know one another!
- After writing your first blog post, send the URL of your blog to Christina: email@example.com
— also do this as soon as you can! (just go to the address bar at the top of the webpage when you’re at your blog, and copy that)
I need this so I can put all of your blogs into an aggregator at our course site, as noted above. What this means is that all the blog posts will show up on that site in one place, which makes it easier to read them and comment on them!
- You need to write at least 4 posts in term 1, and 5 in term 2
Your introduction post (above) counts as one of these, so you just need to do three more for Term 1 (then 5 in Term 2)
Two of these (one in Term 1) will be for your presentations, and then the rest can be on books/films/other works of your choice—ideally focused on what we’re reading/viewing for the course, though maybe you could do one on something related to what we’re reading/viewing.
Blog post due dates/times:
- When you have a presentation, you must have your blog post done before class on your presentation date. That way you can use it to organize your thoughts for your presentation, and it’s ready for after class in case people want to make further comments on what you said, on the post itself.
- Otherwise, if it’s a post not about a presentation, be sure to have it done at the latest before class on Fridays of the weeks we’re talking about the text you’re writing about. It would be better if they were done earlier so I could talk about one or more of them in seminar!
The idea with these posts is to give you a chance to reflect on something in the readings or films, give comments as to what you think, ask questions, criticize, etc. You can raise things that you’d like to discuss in seminar, perhaps, or just something that struck you as interesting in the text. Doing a blog post is a way to organize your thoughts about a reading, to take notes, in a sense, on what you found most interesting or puzzling, or to ask things that I or others might be able to answer.
This is informal writing—you don’t need to have a thesis or solid argumentation, though it would help all of us reading your posts if you make your thoughts as clear as possible. You should, as much as possible, provide references to the texts or films or other works you discuss, so that readers of your posts can go back to the works and find what you are talking about.
- Please give your blog post a tag that is the last name of the author for that week. If there is more than one author, then give both authors’ last names as tags. Same if you talk about more than one author in your post, even if all are not assigned for that week.
So, for example, if I’m writing a blog post that talks about both Plato and Sophocles, then I’d give it the tags “Plato” and “Sophocles.” This is because it will make it easier to find blog posts about particular texts and authors if they are all tagged with the authors’ names.
How to add tags is in the second video I made about starting your blog, on our site (https://a1hendricks.arts.ubc.ca), under “course materials,” then “blog instructions.”
Short version: the “tags” area is on the right menu when you’re writing a post.
- Reading and commenting on others’ posts
I will be reading all the blog posts, and commenting on most (depending on how many there are each week, I may or may not have time to comment on them all). It’s part of your job as a member of our seminar to read and comment on some posts as well. Do your best to read all posts, and comment on at least one each week. Just get into the habit of checking the seminar site towards the end of each week. This way, we have a chance to discuss ideas, questions, criticisms that we don’t have time to get to in class.
Consider: good comments are more than simply saying something like “good post!” Good comments say something about why you think the person is saying something good, or raise a question, or even raise a possible objection. Just as in class, be respectful of others’ views; feel free to disagree, but do so in a respectful and kind way, just as you would/should in person!
Be sure to click the checkbox on the comment page that says something like “email me if there is a reply,” so then you’ll get an email if the blog author (or anyone else) responds.
If you receive a comment on your blog, do respond—since the person took the time to leave a comment, it’s polite to take the time to reply, and it also can be the start of an interesting conversation. But if you were the one commenting and got a reply, at that point you can choose whether or not to respond back; if you started the conversation, the generally accepted practice in the blogging world, I think, is that it’s up to you to decide if you want to continue it. Still, if the blogger asked you a question in his/her reply to your comment, it’s polite to go back and answer.
- Marking blog posts
The blog posts will be marked as (+) adequate, (-) not entirely adequate, (0) not completed. You’ll get a (+) if you do all of the following:
- Submit on time (see due dates/times, above)
- Write at least 250-300 words
- Reflect on the text, film or other work for that week (though you can also talk about another text too!); once or twice you could write a blog post on something else related to the texts we’re discussing, but talk about how it’s related
- Include page numbers or section numbers for specific things you’re talking about in the works, so we can all find those things later