*Note: We will be updating and improving these instructions.
The Futures Initiative Commons in a Box (CBOX) installation is built on WordPress and BuddyPress. Only basic knowledge of WordPress is necessary to build a Site on the Futures Initiative.
When you create a site on The Futures Initiative CBOX Installation, you will automatically be assigned a “Group” and a “Blog.” WordPress uses the terms “Blog” and “Site” interchangeably, though I will refer to this function as a Site. Both Groups and Sites can be either public or private. It may be helpful to think about the Group as a space for internal conversations where students can collaborate and converse with one another, whereas the Site can be a space for resources (like syllabi) and more polished student reflections.
Sites (these can vary widely in appearance based on the WordPress theme you choose)
While some instructors have effectively utilized both components, I often use only the Site, making it private to students in the course. All information related to the course can be found there including the syllabus, the schedule and readings, notes from class, and links to additional resources. It also serves as a conversation space, where students are required to post blogs and comment on each other’s work. The CUNY Academic Commons has an excellent FAQ page with helpful advice for setting up both groups and sites.
1. Once you have signed up and are logged into the Futures Initiative, you should be able to click on your name in the upper righthand corner of the screen, and scroll down to Sites–>Create a site.
2. You will then be asked to provide a URL, site name, and to decide whether or not your Site will be publicly available via search engines. You can also further customize the Site’s privacy, and decide who, even within the Futures Initiative network, will be able to see the Site.
3. Once your Site has been created, you will be able to view both its front and back end (Dashboard). The Dashboard is where you will control the site’s settings, organization, and appearance.
Back End (Dashboard)
WordPress sites allow for both posts and pages.
Posts appear on your site’s home page, and they are chronological and dynamic. In other words, new Posts appear at the very top of your home page, pushing down the older Posts. Posts can thus be thought of as the “breaking news” section; your most recent post is the first thing users will see when they visit your site.
Pages can contain the same content as posts, and are created in a similar way, but they are non-chronological and static. Whereas your posts will appear in sequence on the home page of your blog, the titles of all your pages will instead appear as a list of links on your home page, usually in the header or the sidebar of your blog, depending on your theme. Users will have to click on these links in order to view each page.
In the picture below, “Syllabus,” “Reading List and Assignments,” “Notes From Class,” and “Resources” are all Pages. “Sample Annotated Bibliography & Research Response Blogs” is the title of a Post.
- It may be useful to sketch out beforehand what you want your site to look like and how you envision using it. Then, using the Dashboard you can add and customize content on Pages, add custom Menus, select a Theme, and add Widgets: small tools that allow you to perform specific functions.
Once you have set up a Site and/or Group on the Futures Initiative, we recommend using the CUNY Academic Commons FAQ page for information about setting up Groups and Sites. You can learn more about WordPress from their website, and from numerous online forums.