Next Wednesday, I will be teaching the first of our two Basics of WordPress classes for the summer session. Both classes’ waitlists are already full, so watch this space for announcements about our fall classes. And you’re always welcome to drop by at our WordPress Office Hours.
In our classes, we guide users through creating their own website through our free WordPress Blogs environment at wordpress.ncsu.edu. It’s a great introduction to the platform, and a safe space that many users use to experiment and get to know the tools that they will be using in another place. After all, it’s better to make mistakes on Brian’s Test Site than on a live site for your department, research group, or other campus unit.
But the WordPress Blogs service is available for more than just tinkering and training. It’s a robust platform for self-publication and self-promotion– especially at a major research institution like NC State.
Below, I’d like to make the case that not only is OIT Design’s WordPress Blogs environment a service you can use, it’s a service you should use. Every member of the NC State community owes it to themselves to start blogging today!
Students arguably have the most to gain from our WordPress Blogs service. Blogging your way through college offers you an opportunity to document your academic successes, highlight your extra-curricular activities, and share your experience on campus.
Your parents will appreciate it– and probably share your blog posts on Facebook, so be careful about that. But so will prospective employers.
There’s a growing demand not just for STEM majors, but also STEM majors with strong communication skills and the non-technical foundation many employers are looking for. The blog you start as a student gives you an opportunity to hone your writing skills, and gives you a space to make connections between your academic studies and your non-academic passions. And it gives you a collection of ready-to-share writing samples for prospective employers.
Faculty and Graduate Students
Professors on our campus and across the country have always been early adopters when it comes to building personal websites. Building your own home on the web helps colleagues and collaborators find you, your research lab, and your publications. NC State’s AFS space is filled with faculty home pages built by hand in HTML.
The WordPress Blogs service makes it easier for professors to build their websites– no more hand-coding HTML pages– and it makes it easier to build better websites.
That was the subject of a challenge published in Nature several years ago: to build better academic websites that give “potential collaborators and recruiters a clearer window into your world.” WordPress provides a platform that supports good navigation menus and easy-to-read web content that represents your work in the best possible way.
Included in our service are several attractive themes and a number of plugins that enhance visitors’ experiences on your site, including:
- LaTeX for WordPress lets you display mathematical expressions using LaTeX syntax in your pages and blog posts using MathJax or the LaTeX image service.
- Google Doc Embedder lets you embed PDFs, Google Docs, PowerPoint presentations, and other files in your posts and pages to easily share your CV, syllabus, or paper drafts.
For graduate students and early-career academics, a WordPress website offers you another advantage as well: When you move on to a position with another university, you can take your website with you! WordPress allows you to export your site content as a single file and import it into another instance of WordPress at your new institution.
NC State is a big campus with a non-faculty workforce of well over 5,000 across countless departments and units. In any large organization, communication is a challenge. It’s easy for your group to get lost in the shuffle.
Your departmental website should always be the primary face of your group, describing who you are and the services you provide. But that website may not meet all of your needs. It’s probably not a place where you can highlight your group’s success stories, share best practices, or recognize employees’ hard work.
Using the WordPress Blogs service is an easy way to supplement your larger organizational web presence with something focused on your group. Build a space to tell your story at NC State and share the ways you’re helping to promote the university’s efforts.