Tips and Tricks for using the foxmis community
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Ilya Rogov

Quick Profile Personalization

If you have just signed up for an account in the MIS Community site then your default username will most likely be “tu######“. This naming convention makes it very difficult for students to find and connect with each other through BuddyPress. Also, if a faculty member is trying to find a particular student it makes it easier for them to search for them on first name, last name basis than an AccessNet username. It also helps if a student has a picture associated with their name. This enables another degree of differentiation that makes it easier for people to find each other, especially if someone is searching for you, but cannot remember your name.

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First, to change your username after registering for an account go to the admin bar (the grey bar located on the top of every page) and hover over “My Account” then navigate to Profile > Edit Profile. Here you can change your name from the default AccessNet login to your actual name (e.g. tua12345 to John Doe) choose an appropriate blog type and hit Save Changes.

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To change your picture/avatar simply click the link below Edit Profile that says Change Avatar then upload a JPG, GIF or PNG of yourself and you’re done! Remember you can always change/delete your old avatar if you choose to do so. Email me if you have any questions.

Creating a site for sharing your research and publications

Faculty members can display their research record on their personal site and have it automatically update the new departmental page which aggregates Fox MIS research. You can take advantage of several features of WordPress to post and tag this research. By using this approach faculty members can share their research with each other and the world much more effectively. Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish this:

  1. As mentioned in an earlier post, you must first activate your blog. This will allow you to submit each piece of research as a post. Listing each research item such as a journal article as a post is critical because it will allow you take advantage of the RSS and aggregation features that are built into the MIS community site.
  2. While posting your research you should utilize the tagging feature of WordPress to label each piece of research accordingly. (E.g. net neutrality, globalization, wireless technologies, etc.) Tags are in the right sidebar on the “Edit Post” page. You should also categorize the type of research (e.g., journal, conference, grant, case, working paper, other). Please use the example categories to maintain consistency and for ease of aggregation. Finally, also categorize each post with your name so that it can be easily accessed from the aggregate Fox MIS research site. Categories are also in the right sidebar on the “Edit Post” page.  Please see Munir Mandviwalla’s site for an example.
  3. You can then add several widgets to your research “blog” page such as the tags and recent posts widget that will make it much easier to browse your research.
  4. To configure your site for the above purpose, here’s what to do.
    1. Create a blank page via Dashboard > Pages > Add New and title it “Research”
    2. Publish the page leaving it blank.
    3. Go into Dashboard > Settings > Reading and then change the “Post page” to your newly created Research Page (in the picture below I set my post page to a temporary “Test Page”)statpage
  5. In order to display your new research page (with the tags included) switch the theme from “faculty” to “facultywithresearch2″.
  6. Start adding posts to your site for each unique piece of research.
  7. Send the RSS feed of your new site to the system administrator so we can add the feed to the overall Fox MIS research site.  Once this is done, you will be able to make changes and additions to your site and they will automatically propagate to the central site.
  8. You are finished! Now sharing and posting research is much easier and more efficient.

Configuring/Starting An Individual Blog

New student and faculty members might be finding it difficult to set up their blogs and make their regular posts show up on their homepage. By default each student and faculty member is assigned a template that focuses mainly on their “About Me” profile and not their blog posts. The actual blogging feature of WordPress is obscured through this profile-centric approach, however it is still an integral part of your personal page. By regularly updating your blog and posting new material it will keep your page looking fresh and active. Here’s what you can do.

Navigate to the dashboard and on the sidebar go to Appearances > Widgets then drag and drop the Recent Posts widget onto the sidebar. This will enable you and your visitors to see your latest blog posts and navigate to them by clicking on the respective hyperlinks.

NOTE: By doing this your sidebar will be completely wiped out and replaced with only the Recent Posts widget. This will leave a significant amount of whitespace on your sidebar so I suggest adding at least one more widget to give your page(s) a more “filled in” look. I suggest adding some of your favorite links and (if you intend to post a lot) add a categories widget.

Now you’re ready to post by simply going into your admin bar (grey bar on top of page) and selecting your blog/site and clicking on New Post. WordPress has a very rich posting interface where you can add images, video, tables, polls, and even forms into your posts. Have fun!

Using Plugins and Widgets

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Plugins extend WordPress functionality by allowing users to add various applications to their blogs or enhance aready existing WordPress features. Each blog has several plugins available for use. They are: KB-Gradebook, TinyMCE Advanced, cformsII, WordPress Download Monitor, Polls, and Ratings.

Most of these plugins can be inserted as widgets into your blog sidebar and will display sitewide. You can access the sidebar by going to your admin bar above each page, select a blog then go to Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets. Then you can add or delete widgets from your sidebar. I will make an individual post for each plugin detailing what it does and how you can use it. 

KB-Gradebook Plugin

imagesFaculty members can take advantage of a WordPress plugin that allows them to upload and display grades to students. The plugin allows you to upload custom gradesheets created by Excel or any other program that allows the exporting of CSV (Comma-Separated-Value) files. You are required to have a list of student names and their e-mail addresses so that they are able to view their individual grades by visiting a course site/blog. Once the gradebook plugin has ben set up maintenace is fairly hassle free.

Here’s how to get started: Continue reading

Starting to Use WordPress and BuddyPress

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Since there will be a large amount of new student users registering at the beginning of the semester I figure I’d post some guiding pointers to help them get set up.

As mentioned in my previous post, initially, your blog will look very bland. You are given a shell to populate as you please. However, there is some infastructure behind the shell which will both guide you and provide a framework for getting stuff done.

You (the user/blogger) exist in two mutually inclusive “parts” of the site. One is WordPress MU (the blog) where you can submit posts, change your “About Me” page, and add other pages to your personal site. The other is BuddyPress (the community/social network) where you can see the profiles of other students and faculty.

BuddyPress is comperable to Facebook in that it allows you to browse and “friend” various users and their blogs. For example you can keep track of your classmates by friending them and find your classes by searching the blogs. As the site grows you will be able to join various groups, such as AMIS, and have group discussions.