How to Teach an Online Course using WordPressby eHow Contributor
If you have some great content you would like to teach, but don't own your own server or don't wish to subscribe to a hosting Website, there is a simple way to do it using a free blog space at WordPress. Other free blogging sites might also work the same way, so if you use Blogger or one of the other sites, check to see if the following steps will work. In the meantime, this is how I set up my course called "Creating a Character Sketch" on a free Word Press blog site.
Develop your content for the course. You can follow the instructions in my related article, How to Develop a Training Course (link in Resources below) or follow your own template for curriculum design. It is important to create the entire course in a word processing program first. The entire course will consist of reading assignments, links to Websites, discussion questions, detailed instructions for assignments and instructions for the instructor on how and when to post various components of the course.
Open a new blog on WordPress.com (link in resources below) or other free blog hosting site. Create the first page of the blog. This will be the landing page for your students so include the course description here as well as instructions about how to access the remainder of the course. The content on this page is considered to be static, it should not change after the course starts.
When you are on the editing site for this first page there are some things to remember to do: 1. Password protect the page. This is to make sure that no-one can access the site without your permission (and without paying tuition). 2. Turn off the comments part of the page. You do not want students to comment here. You want to contain the comments in specific pages set up for discussion. 3. Post your photo and contact information on this first page, which is usually called the Home page of the blog.
Start a new page for the content of the first section of the class. Title this page something like "Section One." This is where you will post the content information you created in your course template in Step One. It should include a description of the session, the purpose, the objective and the deliverables which includes the activities and assessments. This is also a static page, so disable the comments section and password protect the page as well. You can set either the same password as for the home page or a different one. See tips below to determine which way will work best for you.
Start a new, again static, page so you can post any reading material or lectures you have created for the course. You can title this page Course Notes or Course Links if you post links to Websites you want the students to visit for the session. Turn off the comments on this page as well, as you are simply presenting material for the students to access. WordPress allows you to set a hierarchy for presenting the pages, so set this page with the previous page (Section One) as its parent page. That way this page will not show up on the top menu bar, but it will appear under the Section One page in the list of pages in one of the side columns. (see tips below)
Set up your discussion question pages. Use one new page for each discussion question and leave the comments area open. This is where the action of the class will be. Set each discussion page with the appropriate Section page as its parent so it only appears in the list of pages under the appropriate section. Title each page with the number of the Discussion Question (DQ1, DQ2, etc.) Your students will be able to easily navigate the different areas of the course this way. Set a password for every page, using the same one as the parent page. This will allow students to move around in each section without having to re-enter passwords.
Set up one final page, this one without a parent page so it will appear in the top menu bar. Title this one Introductions or Intros and Chat. This is another discussion thread but one that can be accessed anytime during the course, so be sure to use the same password as on the home page. Post a note asking students to introduce themselves and let them know that this is the area where they can chat with their classmates about any off-topic subjects just as if they were meeting in the hall before class. Post your own short introduction on this page so students can get to know you.
Now, you are ready to teach your class. Set your tuition, advertise the course, and wait for the students to come. (If you build it, they will come!)
Items you will need
Free Blog site like WordPress
Using the same password on all pages allows the participants to enter any page in the course whenever they like after receiving the password. All pages that have the same password will be accessible with one entry of the password. This works well for a self-paced course, but if you want the sessions to open according to a schedule, use different passwords for each session. Give the participants the passwords to the next sessions the day before they are to start. In order to show the page links on your blog, you need to go to WIDGETS and add the PAGES widget to the blog. You can see the WIDGETS link when you are on the editing site for the blog. You only need to add this widget once for it to appear on all pages.
Do not give any passwords to anyone until they have paid the tuition. Once a course has ended, change the passwords for the next time you offer it.
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