For a number of reasons not worth going into I dislike using our university course management system (CMS). I therefore decided to follow the suggestions in this great post by Ryan Cordell from the Chronicle’s awesome ProfHacker blog and start using WordPress as a CMS. One option for doing so was to use a free wordpress.com site for each class, but that would mean ads pop up on pages and there is less flexibility with how pages are built. On the other hand, I could go for the ad-free wordpress.org option, but I would have to pay for hosting and a domain name for each site. Solution? Since our lab website is already built with wordpress.org and I pay for a domain name and hosting, I opted instead to test my WP skills and convert my site to a Multisite Network. This greatly streamlines the management of multiple sites if you want them to have different looks, plugins, and themes. It turned out to be relatively easy, though I did struggle for a bit to fix some broken links and categories. If you are interested in using WordPress to create course web pages, and already use a self-hosted WordPress site for your lab or blog, then I highly recommend investing a few hours and making the switch. JUST BE SURE TO SAVE A COPY OF YOUR ORIGINAL WP-CONFIG AND HTACCESS FILES IN CASE YOU NEED TO DEBUG. Which I needed to do (the links, categories, and tags that were broken were because I made a mistake in the htaccess file).
Some resources to get started.
- From the codex: creating a multisite network
- A couple of multisite guides written especially for n00bs like me: here and here
- from the codex: debugging the installation of a multisite network:
PS word to the wise – make sure you aren’t violating FERPA when you opt out of your university’s CMS. Don’t post grades or similar on line. Even posting student names and contact info without a waiver may be a FERPA violation. Check your institutions FERPA guidelines.