UMW Blogs Trusts and Loves You!

Sarah Cunnane, writer for the Times Higher Education blog, recently featured UMW Blogs as one of the rare scholarly publishing platforms for a university community that actually cultivates, encourages, and allows for open publishing by anyone in the UMW community. We are proud of this public display of trust, and rather than resulting in a black eye for the institution it has become a mechanism for highlighting the amazing work of faculty and students alike, as well as bringing attention to the great work we do at UMW on a regular basis.

The discussion around trust and academic blogging platforms was ignited by a post by Mark Smithers on “Blogging and tust in Universities”. He highlighted UMW as a rare example of trust in Higher Education:

Now the question is why aren’t universities doing the same thing? To be fair, there are some very good examples of university blogging environments where numerous members of the university run a blog. One of the best known is the University of Mary Washington blogs site but even this runs from its own domain and not from the UMW main site. These sites, though, are the exception rather than the rule.

Fact is, this is just the beginning of UMW’s experiment with openly sharing the work we do with the world. over the coming academic year our main website, http://umw.edu, which is now running on WordPress will feature more department bogs/sites (see here, here, and here for examples), individual sites/blogs, and cross-fertilize content from specific departments and class sites into the umw.edu space. This open, fishbowl approach to teaching and learning on a university’s website brings a new idea of open engagement to a university’s web presence. UMW’s website is not just a brochure anymore—it is an open educational experience and a resource all at once!

Summer Session courses on UMW Blogs

Below is a list of courses for Session I and II being taught with UMW Blogs.

Recent UMW Blogs Outages

First and foremost, DTLT wants to apologize sincerely for any inconveniences recent UMW Blogs outages have caused. We have taken, and are continuing to take, steps to identify and fix the problems that seem to be causing these outages.

As of today, we have decided to disable a sitewide plugin that we installed last fall called BuddyPress. We added it to the site because we were interested in the social networking capabilities that it might allow us to build on top of the UMW Blogs platform. However, at this time, we are concerned that it may be contributing to the performance issues we have been seeing.

The good news is that the removal of this plugin should cause very little inconvenience. We have contacted the handful of users who are currently experimenting with the system, and the removal should have little impact on them.

The most widespread change you will notice due to this removal is the disappearance of the gray toolbar that used to appear whenever you were logged into UMW Blogs. This toolbar provided quick access to a list of your blogs as well as a logout button. We know that some users may have been relying on this interface, so we want to provide the following information about alternative ways to complete these tasks.

Accessing a List of Your Blogs
Whenever you are on the dashboard (or backend) of your blog, you should see a sidebar menu item labeled “Dashboard.” If you click on it, the menu will expand to reveal an item labeled “My Blogs.” Clicking this link will show you a list of all the blogs on which you are currently a user.

Logging Out
On most blogs, you should be able to find a “Logout” link in the sidebar or menu of the site. However, if you can’t find one, you can always logout of the system by going to the UMW Blogs home page http://www.umwblogs.org) and clicking the “Logout” link at the top of the right-hand sidebar.

If you are concerned about any other implications resulting from the removal of Buddypress, feel free to contact any member of DTLT.

UPDATE (2/18): Avatars on UMW Blogs

Another feature of BuddyPress that some UMW Blogs users may have been taking advantage of was the ability to upload and display avatars. It is still possible to associate your account with an avatar using the free Gravatar service.

If you have a blog on UMW Blogs and would like users’ avatars to be displayed, go to your “Appearance” menu and choose “Gravatars.” Simply toggle the option on and save. Now, if a user has a Gravatar set up, it will appear when they leave a comment on your blog.

If you are a user and would like to have your avatar appear whenever a blog enables this option, simple visit www.gravatar.com and set up an avatar. For this to work, the Gravatar must be associated with the email address that you use with your UMW Blogs account.

Introducing Gravatar

The screencast below gives an overview of Gravatar, which provides a quick and easy way to get a globally recognized avatar that will work with UMW Blogs and beyond.

Via Profhacker.

UMW Blogs Upgraded

We have upgraded UMW Blogs to the latest version of WordPress Multi-User, which has been nick-named “Coltrane” after the late, great Jazz musician. This version has a very different user interface on the administrative backend, and it may be a bit confusing at first glance. However, we have documented the whole thing for you in the support section here, so be sure to take a look there if you get lost. Also, if you have any specific issues or questions please contact Jim Groom at 654-1997, or use the contact email form here. Finally, take a look at the video above which provides a quick overview of the latest version of WordPress.