still chuntering…

More mysteries to which I may never find answers…

  • CATEGORIES CLOUD

is now displayed as a horizontal type list – the beautiful cloud format seems to have disappeared & I can’t figure out how to get it back again.  At present, there is no point in having the ‘cloud’ because it has nothing to distinguish it from the list format of the plain categories widget.  Not exactly sure how it works – is it the number of posts or the volume of words which prompts the cloud to change?  Or has it just suffered an untimely death on me?

  • UPLOADED IMAGES

I’ve uploaded various types – photos, screen-clipped Powerpoint jpegs, bog-standard jpegs – & most look fine & can be clicked on to see an enlarged version.  Photos are the exception, which pop up huge, so I need to find a way of formatting them so they are the correct size & decent quality, not the vast & blurry offerings they are at present.

  • INSERTING URLs & LABELLING URLs

Need to input a label to replace URLs, & keep it short – they sprawl not only across the main body of the page, but also on top of the sidebar script if too long, & consequently are illegible.

  • BLOGROLL

I haven’t found a ‘search’ facility yet so I can trawl by author for co-workers’ WordPress blogs & link up, nor can I find a way of searching by topics of interest.

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CHUNTERING ON…

Well, I’d like to say that the past 24 hours has been something of a learning curve, but in reality they’ve been more of an unlearning experience; I’m now grumpy, confused and frustrated because I can’t find ways of formatting this blog as I would like.

  • WIDGETS

I’ve now got a side-bar with widgets – yey!   I’m still not sure what widgets actually are, but they seem to be links to organise and collate information, so I’m calling this ‘progress’ of sorts.

  • PAGES

This has been my biggest nightmare so far.  What I would really like is a nice neat row of tabs along the top of my page, which will link to other topic pages – I’m trying to avoid the hideous ‘shopping list’ format I had yesterday, and really need to find ways of categorising and sorting information, partly for my own sake but also for ease of user-access.  I can produce pages, but haven’t found a way of linking posts to individual pages; the ‘Help’ facility simply states that a ‘page’ is much the same as a ‘post’, so that’s no help whatsoever.  So, after much cutting, pasting, trawling the Dashboard & colourful language, I’ve now deleted the pages I created yesterday – I simply don’t have the time to faff on with this because I have work to produce, & I’m disappointed with WordPress in that producing this kind of format, which I think most creators / users would want and expect as standard, is either impossible, or a rather complex process which I haven’t discovered yet.  Again, back to the design issue – perhaps the ‘theme’ I selected doesn’t support this?

  • CATEGORIES / CATEGORY CLOUD

Selected this from the widgets and have now managed to link my posts to ‘categories’ – thank you Caroline!:-) – the result of which is that I can now organise the posts into topic groups, and links to the various categories are listed on the sidebar widget.  The downside is that, regarding user-friendliness and accessibility, they aren’t that visible – the font is small, the location is not where a user would expect to find navigation links, and because I have also changed my ‘front page’ to the ‘static’ option, the only access to the categorised information is via these links.  I suspect that most users wouldn’t realise that access to other posts is via these links, but most importnantly for myself and the consideration of using a WordPress blog with students, this is a real clanger – my learners would really struggle to navigate and locate information on this blog, and therefore in its present form, I wouldn’t even consider using this in a classroom context.  I need to find a way of having bold, clear, easy to locate tabs across the top of the page.

I have currently selected the Category Cloud, as opposed the the straight Category option – I’m hoping that the cloud will work a bit like Wordle, so will be an interesting visual.  I suspect I may end up having both on there, because if the cloud develops as I am anticipating, once again, it might not be as user-friendly as it needs to be – these Category links MUST be a clear as possible, since they are, at present, the only route of access to the Reflections and Tasks posts.

I’m also considering adding a further category where I can store some interesting classroom writing task ideas which have appeared on the Reader page – it would be good to have a stash of useful ideas to try out.  I’m not sure yet how to grab this stuff – I think perhaps the ‘reblog’ icon could work in the same way as a FB ‘share’ button?

EXCITING TECHIE MOMENT…

When this post is published, I’ll be able to see if the Categories Cloud works as I am hoping.

Ooooh, it works! 🙂 & it’s very pretty too 🙂  Have now added a Categories List format as well, because these links must be really clear & easy to locate.

Changes don’t take place immediately or by clicking ‘refresh’ – the cloud took about 10 mins to change.  Also, I’ve just added another ‘category’ which isn’t showing yet – maybe I need to link a post to it first?

A baptism of fire…

Just recording a few thoughts about using WordPress for the first time, and the trials and traumas so far…

  • DESIGN and FUNCTIONALITY

My educational background is in Art and Design, and consequently issues such as functionality, user-friendliness, and overall effective design combined with visual appeal dominate everything that I do; I strongly believe that there is absolutely no excuse for poor design, and (rather shamefully) admit to spending the majority of my time working on the visual and design aspects of resources, as opposed to the content.  The visual appeal of a resource impacts directly on students’ responses to it, and their interest and willingness to interact with it, and within my work context of delivering to adult learners whose first language is not English, who often have low levels of literacy and ICT skills, it is vital that the resources I produce have a clear layout, and are easy to access and locate.

So far, creating a WordPress blog has proved to be both challenging and disappointing in the design department.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time trawling through the various ‘themes’, and finally settled for one which (I think) will enable me to upload plenty of images which can be displayed horizontally across the page – I loathe sprawling ‘shopping list’ type pages.  However, I remain unconvinced that this was the right decision because, as yet, I’m not entirely sure how this blog will develop, what type of content I will be uploading and which visual layout would best meet its needs.  Furthermore, customising the layout and colours on the page is extremely limited – apparently I need to upgrade to enjoy the arty aspects of customising my page 😦

  • USER-FRIENDLINESS

Put bluntly, I am not especially gifted in the techie department, but I have adopted a technique of cheerfully clicking away at anything and everything until I can produce what I want, or at the very least, something broadly comparable; it’s an unpredictable and rather chaotic approach but it works for me, and I usually gain new knowledge along the way.  I’d like to say that this has been the case with WordPress, but sadly not – yes, I have published a couple of things, but am not entirely sure how and doubt I could repeat the process with ease, so I definitely need more practice.  The Dashboard is terrifying – what does it all mean?!?  At present, I have to confess to feeling that Wordpress is a bit of a headache :-S

  • BLOGGING

I find the entire concept of blogging very odd, and it would not be an understatement to say that I am an extremely reluctant blogger.  However, I am aware of the enormous advantages it offers for sharing ideas and good practice within a professional context.  I have used private blogs within VLEs to record my thoughts, student responses, identify potential problematic issues, record epic fails, and most importantly, to log my learning journey of experimentation within Moodle, and found this to be extremely useful; this was acceptable to me because access to these blogs was limited to myself and a member of the Staff Development team.   I have willingly shared my VLE work recently, following a request from Staff Development that it be used to showcase good practice both within my own department and for college-wide training purposes, and also in response to a request from a VLE team member to share it with an external provider.  However, blogging in the public domain is a completely different ball-game, and one which fills me with total horror, most likely because of the ‘unknown’ potential audience.