UBC Blogs Instructor Guide

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UBC Blogs is an interactive website-building platform where you and your students can create sites for sharing content individually or collaboratively. These sites can result in outcomes like a course website, a group blog, a peer review space, or a personal portfolio—all built on a flexible WordPress foundation, which helps you implement different themes and add-on tools without having to learn code.
Cost Yes Free
Bandwidth Yes Low demand
Canvas Integration Yes Works in coordination with Canvas
Privacy Yes UBC Blogs is FIPPA compliant and data is stored securely in Canada
Similar UBC-Supported Tools Canvas, edX Edge, and UBC Wiki are other centrally-supported tools that can deliver course content.

What can I use it for?

You can use UBC Blogs to create a website for a variety of purposes:

  • Building a course website to share course materials
  • Enabling group work by inviting students to author a website together
  • Collecting open-pedagogy assignments, where students post assignments openly
  • Encouraging students to set up their own sites to display portfolios or reflections
  • Publicly sharing your own Open Educational Resources

How are faculty using UBC Blogs?

Christina Hendricks uses UBC Blogs to have students share their work

The work students do in my courses can also be very valuable to others who want to learn about philosophical topics. Thus I have asked students to create blog posts and post other assignments on our public course websites to share their thoughts and their knowledge with others. Read more »

What do I need to use UBC Blogs?

A supported web browser

UBC Blogs runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari.

A UBC Blogs account

Accounts for UBC Blogs are based on UBC CWLs (Campus-Wide Logins), so all faculty, staff, and students who have a CWL can create an account themselves. Account creation will happen automatically the first time you log in to UBC Blogs.

Tips

  • There is no limit to the number of UBC Blogs sites you can have, but please create responsibly.
  • UBC Blogs is a great platform for enabling open-pedagogy assignments, but keep privacy in mind:
    • Avoid posting (or having students post) confidential information, such as student numbers, contact details, or other identifying information.
    • Provide an alternative submission method for any students who are uncomfortable sharing work openly.

How do I use UBC Blogs?

You will first create a UBC Blogs site, then be able to customize it for your course purposes.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using UBC Blogs.

Log in to UBC Blogs

  1. Go to blogs.ubc.ca/wp-admin and use your UBC CWL username and password to log in.
  2. If this is your first time logging in, follow the prompts to complete signing up for your UBC Blogs account.

Tips

Create a new website with UBC Blogs

You can create your site independently of Canvas or using Canvas. If using Canvas, you will not be able to select your site name (which forms part of the web address of your new site), as this will be auto-generated. But you will be able to add a UBC Blogs site link to your Canvas course, and students who click this link will be added to your site as "Authors", meaning they can write posts for your site.

  1. Go to the UBC Blogs sign-up page, and click Create a Website.
  2. Scroll down and fill in the form:
    • Site Name - This will form part of the web address or URL of your new site. All UBC Blogs have an address that starts with "blogs.ubc.ca" and then incorporates your site name.
    • Site Title - This is the title for your site and does not affect the web address. You can change your site title at any time.
    • Site Language - Choose to display your site in English or French.
    • Privacy - You can allow search engines to index this site, which means it can be searched for and found by anyone on the Internet. You can change this setting at any time; however, it will not be removed from search results immediately.
  3. Click Create Site.
  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Navigation tab.
  3. Find the UBC Blogs menu item, click the options menu (the 3 vertical dots), and choose Enable.
  4. Save your setting changes.
  5. If you want to change the default role given to students on on your site (i.e., to a role other than "Author"):
    • Click UBC Blogs where it appears now in the Course Navigation. This action will launch you into your new site.
    • Activate and copy the connection point between your site and Canvas:
      • Click the site name in the upper left to be taken to the Dashboard.
      • Click Plugin in the sidebar of the Dashboard, find the "LTI Connector Token" plugin, and click Activate.
      • Refresh the page, then click Tools in the sidebar, and select LTI Token.
      • Copy the token (number) that is displayed.
    • Please email lt.hub@ubc.ca with the following:
      • the LTI token you copied in the steps above
      • the website address of your new site and of your Canvas course
      • what role you want students to have after they click the link in your Canvas course
      • what you want the link in your Canvas course to be called (it cannot be "UBC Blogs" after this change)

Tips

  • The site name cannot be changed after you create it, so make sure you pick something that fits your site's purpose, if you are creating your site outside of Canvas.
  • Even if you make your whole site public, you can fine-tune the privacy of specific content to make it accessible only to certain groups of people. This can be done by adding password protection to individual posts or pages and sharing the password with anyone who you want to have access.
  • You can change the look and feel of your site by changing the theme. From the Dashboard of your site, hover over the Appearance item in the sidebar, and select Theme. Hover over any theme and click Activate to use it.

Add pages and posts to your UBC Blogs website

Pages are useful for displaying static content on your website that is best organized in a hierarchical structure, as pages can have sub-pages underneath them.

Posts are useful for displaying date-based content on your website, as posts are organized in chronological order. Posts can also be grouped by categories or tags to make them easier to find at a later time.

  1. Log in to UBC Blogs with your CWL.
  2. From the Dashboard, hover over the Pages or Posts item in the sidebar, and select Add New.
  3. Use the text editor to add a content to the page or post. You can preview and save a draft of your work as you go.
  4. Explore different parts of the editing interface to find other customizable options for your page or post, like where it sits in the site hierarchy (for pages) and the date to display with it (for posts).
  5. When you are ready to put the content on your site, click Publish. Your page or post will be added to your site for others to see.

Tips

  • Pages can be used to share your main course content. For example, you could have pages labeled as weekly modules and build sub-pages underneath each that feature the different topics or themes covered.
  • Posts can be used to share supplementary course content. For example, you could use posts to publish announcements or invite discussion on timely topics using the post comments.
  • Posts can be scheduled instead of immediately published, by setting the date associated with them in the future.
  • For extra editing features, you can enable the Gutenberg editor, which adds time-savers like reusable blocks of content. From the Dashboard of your site, hover over the Settings item in the sidebar, and select Writing. Check the boxes for enabling Gutenberg features on pages, posts, and blocks, then save your changes.

Upload a file to use on your UBC Blogs website

You can upload files such as images, PowerPoints, or PDFs to use on your site. Make sure you own the copyright for the file or have the copyright holder's permission to use the material first.

  1. Log in to UBC Blogs with your CWL.
  2. From the Dashboard, hover over the Media item in the sidebar, and select Add New.
  3. Select the file to upload.
  4. Tick the copyright permission that applies:
    • With the permission of the copyright holder(s) - Applies if you have created the image, have the permission of the copyright holder, or are using a Creative Commons license
    • Public Domain - Applies when the work is in the public domain (i.e., expired copyright or copyright has been waived)
    • Other - Applies for cases outside the above uses that require additional explanation
  5. Note any additional information regarding the copyright permissions in the textbox provided, e.g., "the image has CC by 4.0 license on it" or "permission to upload from the copyright holder via email".
  6. Click Upload to upload the file to your site. Once the upload completes, you will be able to link to or embed this file in your pages and posts.

Set the navigation of your UBC Blogs website

Menus in UBC Blogs are how you can build navigation for people to move through the pages or posts on your website.

  1. Log in to UBC Blogs with your CWL.
  2. From the Dashboard, hover over the Appearance item in the sidebar, and select Menus.
  3. Add a name for your menu, and click Create Menu to build your first menu.
  4. Under the "Add menu items" on the left-hand side, select what you want to include links to:
    • Pages - Link to pages that you have created.
    • Posts - Link to posts that you have created.
    • Custom Links - Link to external web addresses, e.g., ubc.ca
    • Categories - Link to categories you've used for posts. UBC Blogs will auto-generate a page of all the posts under that category.
  5. After you have selected the links you want, click Add to Menu. You can sort the menu items by dragging and dropping them, once they are added.
  6. Select the display location, that is, where you want the menu to display on the website. Different themes may have different options for menu display.
  7. Click Save Menu.

Tips

  • Try to use fewer than ten items for top navigation, as more options than this can make your site confusing and overwhelming to navigate. Remember that you can use sub-pages to help with organization and trimming, e.g., link to one page called "Weekly Modules" that has sub-pages of each week's module.
  • Clearly differentiate and label your navigation items, so students know what to expect when they click on each link. Think about what they may be coming to the site to find or do and use your navigation to guide them in the right direction.
  • UBC Blogs sites assign different roles to people who join them, which affect access to the menus feature. Only people with the role of "Administrator" can create and edit menus. If you have questions or need help with this, please contact us.

Add people to your UBC Blogs website

If you set up your site using Canvas, students from your Canvas course will join the site as "Authors" once they click the UBC Blogs link in Canvas. If you did not set up your site using Canvas or want to invite people another way, you can use the email or signup options below, provided the individuals you invite already have UBC Blogs accounts.

This method is useful if you’re adding people who are staff or faculty to the site.

    1. Log in to UBC Blogs with your CWL.
    2. From the Dashboard, hover over the Users item in the sidebar, and select Invite User.
    3. Enter the person's email.
    4. Select a role for the person on your site:
      • Administrator - can do anything on the site, including adding and removing users
      • Editor - can publish posts and pages and edit others' content
      • Author - can publish posts and pages but only edit their own content
      • Contributor - can write posts and pages but cannot publish them without approval
      • Subscriber - cannot write content but can access it, even if the site is private
    5. Click Send Invitation.

This method is useful if you want people to sign themselves up to join the site.

  1. Log in to UBC Blogs with your CWL.
  2. Click Plugin in the sidebar of the Dashboard, find the "Add Users Sidebar Widget" plugin, and click Activate. This widget will let you add a signup form to your site.
  3. From the Dashboard, hover over the Appearance item in the sidebar, and select Widgets.
  4. Click the Add Users widget, select where you would like it to appear, and click Add Widget.
  5. When the Add Users widget opens, enter a title and select the role you would like people who sign up to have:
    • Author - can publish posts and pages but only edit their own content
    • Contributor - can write posts and pages but cannot publish them without approval
    • Subscriber - cannot write content but can access it, even if the site is private
  6. Check Add a password to stop unwanted users from signing up. This will block random people from signing up.
  7. Click Save, set a password, and click Save again. Remember to distribute the password when you invite people to sign up.

Tips

  • Anyone you invite by email or using the signup must have a UBC Blogs account first. Ask invitees to create a UBC Blogs account by logging in with their UBC CWL at blogs.ubc.ca/wp-admin.
  • Even if you did not create your site using Canvas, you can add students using a link from your Canvas course. Please contact us for assistance with this.

Where can I get more support with UBC Blogs?

Technical Support

If you have trouble with UBC Blogs:

Learn more


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