Created with the Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator

Created with the Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator (because I can)

This is the first in a series of posts meant as a guide for almost anyone to create a WordPress site that operates as a networked hub for content created elsewhere. This is the engine, the Jim Groom Syndication Bus that drives ds106, the Open Digital Storytelling course/community/space.

It is intended primarily for Connected Courses, which is intended to be offered in October-November 2014 as an open course in how to create open courses.

I have built several of these sites in the last few years, after learning how it works with ds106, such as ETMOOC (Educational Technology MOOC), Project Community (The Hague University of Applied Science), Harvard Future of Learning Institute, rmooc (Thompson Rivers University), and most recently Thought Vectors in Concept Space (UNIV 200 at VCU).

All of these sites are different, themes, pupose, kinds of syndicated content, but they are all are powered by WordPress and the Feed WordPress plugin. While I have written what I thought were extensive documentation posts, they tend to be full of gory detail for all of the custom coding I have done for each site.

For the purposes of sharing the basics, I am writing this series of posts as a guide that will not depend on any custom coding of template hacking; as an example, I will use the Connected Courses site itself as a model. You do not need to be a WordPress guru, you do not need to know PHP is.

To build one of these sites, you will need a self or institution hosted version of WordPress — you cannot do this on because we need to use a plugin (extra functionality) not available there. If you do not have access to a place to do these, there is no finer option that Reclaim Hosting where as an instructor you can register your own domain and get an entire server infrastructure for the crazy price of $45/year.

It will help to have some basic WordPress concepts (difference between posts and pages, tags and categories, how to install plugins). Or you can use the information here to help your local tech support to enable this functionality for your own site.

Connected Courses site

Connected Courses site

The folks at UC Irvine have already selected a lovely theme; I will walk through the steps I did to set it up for syndication, all steps I did via the WordPress dashboard. Much of the information I will write in the next few posts comes from a Skype conversation between myself and Howard Rheingold, which he kindly had transcribed.

Are you ready to be syndicating? Let’s go. Tentatively these are the steps (links will be added as they are written):

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.