This teacher’s guide focuses on the essentials of creating and using Sites at Penn State, a blogging and Website platform powered by WordPress.

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About Sites at Penn State

Sites at Penn State ( allows you to create a site for a variety of purposes, depending upon your needs. Some ways to use Sites at Penn State include:

  • Traditional Blog: A single author writes posts that display on the Web in reverse chronological order.
  • Multi-Author Course Blog: Many authors can create posts in a single blog making discussion and commenting easier.
  • e-Portfolio: A website displaying examples of your work including text, files, video, and images.
  • Website: A website can be used to provide information about a specific course, personal publishing, research projects, etc.

Create a New Site

You can create multiple sites with the Sites at Penn State tool as long as each site has a different name. To create a new site:

  1. Navigate to
  2. Click the Create a Site.
  3. Type a site name in the Site Name: text box.

Your site name should be descriptive and easy to recall. It cannot contain any special characters, spaces, or capitalization.

  1. Type a site title in the Site Title: text box.

Your visitors will see this at the top of your site.

  1. Select Yes or No under Privacy.

Selecting Yes will display your site in search engines and in the Sites at Penn State directory.

  1. Click the Create Site button.
  2. Click the site URL to view your site.

Create a New Blog Post

To create a new blog post:

  1. Select Posts -> Add New from the left-hand menu.
  2. Type a post title in the Enter title here text box.
  3. Type your post entry text in the correct text box.
  4. Use the formatting tools as desired.

Insert a Link

As a Web design and accessibility best practice, it is important to ensure that the text displayed for a link is descriptive. See for more information.

For example, a link to Penn State’s homepage should be displayed as “Penn State homepage.”

  1. Select the text to be a link.
  2. Click the Link button in the WYSIWYG editor in the Visual tab.
  3. Type the URL in the URL text box.
  4. Click the Add Link button.

Insert Media

Adding media to your posts will engage students and break up large amounts of text. Media includes image, video, audio, document, PDF, and other types of files.

  1. Place your cursor where you would like the media to appear.
  2. Click the Add Media button.

To upload media from your computer:

  1. Click the Select Files button.
  2. Select the media to be uploaded.
  3. Click the Open button.
  4. Type a title, caption, ALT text, and description, if necessary.
  5. Click the Insert into Post button.

To insert media from the Web:

  1. Select the From URL button.
  2. Select the appropriate Image or Audio, Video, or Other File radio button.
  3. Type the URL of the media in the URL text box.
  4. Type a title in the Title text box.
  5. Click the Insert into Post button.
    Be aware that if this media is removed from its original location, it will no longer work on your site.

Always ensure you have permission to use the media you include on your site. See Penn State Policy IP05 at for more information.

Add a Category

Categories are fixed lists of topics, created by the site owner, which can be assigned to blog posts. You can select a category in the sidebar of a site to view all posts assigned to that category.

  1. Click the Categories link on the right-hand side of the Add New Post screen.
  2. Type the Category name in the text box.
  3. Click the Add New Category button.

Categories can be applied and unapplied to a blog post by checking and unchecking the box next to its name.

Add a Tag

Tags are topic words that can be applied to each blog post to help you search for posts on the same topic. If your students are posting to a course blog, consider creating tags for each assignment, then ask your students to add a specific tag to their assignment post. For example, if your name is John Smith and you teach Sociology 100 during the Fall 2017 semester, ask your students to assign the “SOC100FA17SmithA1” tag to the class post for Assignment 1.

  1. Type the tag in the Tags text box.
  2. Type a comma.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all tags have been added to the post.
  4. Click the Add button.

Publish a Post

Your blog post cannot be viewed until you have published your site. To publish a post, click the Publish or Update button in the Publish pane.

Create a New Page

Pages contain static content for your site. You can add text, images, files, and links to a page using the same process outlined in the Create a Post section. To create a new page containing static content:

  1. Select Pages ->Add New on the left-hand menu.
  2. Add a title, content, tags, and categories to your page using the instructions from the Create a New Post section.
  3. Select a parent page from the Parent drop-down list, if necessary.
  4. Click the Publish or Update button.

Create a Page for All Your Blog Posts

By default, posts will be displayed on the homepage of your site. If you wish to display your posts on another, single page:

  1. Create a blank page.
  2. Name it Blog.
  3. Click Save.

See the Change the Posts & Blog page section to attach your posts to this page.

Create a Custom Menu

Complete the following steps if you wish to create a menu for your site:

  1. Select Appearance -> Menus in the left sidebar.
  2. Type a name for your menu in the Menu Name field (e.g., Main Menu).
  3. Click the Primary Menu checkbox in the Menu Settings area.
  4. Click the Create Menu button.
  5. In the Pages area, click the checkbox to the left of each page you wish to use as a menu choice.
  6. Click the Add to Menu button.
  7. Drag and drop your menu choices (including the Blog page if you created it) in the desired order. Menu choices from top to bottom here will appear left to right on your visible menu.
  8. Click the Save Menu button.

Change the Posts & Blog Page

By default, new sites are created so that the front page contains your blog posts. If you want to change your settings so that the front page contains a page of static content and your posts all appear on a certain page:

  1. Select Settings -> Readings on the left-hand menu.
  2. Select Reading on the left-hand menu.
  3. Select the A static page (select below) radio button under the Front page displays heading.
  4. Select the page to be displayed as the front page of your site from the Front page drop-down menu.
  5. Select the page that will display your blog posts from the Posts page drop-down menu.
  6. Click the Save Changes button.

Manage Site Access

If you would like your students to blog from a course site, you must add them as a user. To add a user:

  1. Select Users from the left-hand menu.
  2. Select Add User under the Users heading.
  3. Type the user’s Access Account ID in the text box.
  4. Select a Role from the drop-down list.
  5. Click the Add Userto Blog button.

Manage Comments

By default, a blog will only accept comments from Sites at Penn State users. You can also adjust other settings to meet your needs. To change commenting settings:

  1. Select Settings -> Discussion from the left-hand menu.
  2. Make your selections.
  3. Click the Save Changes button.
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Training for: 
Type of Training: 
documentation iconDocumentation
Training Topic: 
Teaching and Learning
Service or Technology: