Creating a set of logins for your class in WordPress

This is a long overdue post on how to create a set of class logins for your WordPress blog.

At Creative Blogs we use the “Add New Users” plugin which allows you to create a set of 15 users at once making the job of adding a class set of logins a much quicker job. It’s just one of a number of plugins that we use to extend the functionality of WordPress, and in this case improve productivity.

Before you start it is a good idea to get organised:

  1. Make sure you have superadmin privileges on your site. This means that you are able to use dummy email addresses for the children’s logins and to manually set passwords. If you are not a superadmin you will need to use real email addresses for the children so that they can click on the link they will be sent by email to confirm their account.
  2. Set up a spreadsheet with all your information on so you have a record of the accounts and passwords you have created.
  3. Install a desktop utility such as Deskpins which will pin your spreadsheet to the top of the desktop saving you to have to print it out (apparently there is a Mac equivalent called “Afloat”, but I haven’t used this)

A Word About Usernames

The first thing you need to know about usernames in WordPress is that WordPress uses them in the URL for your profile, for example: http://creativeblogs.net/author/username

Note that this only applies to certain themes that display profiles, but nevertheless it means that for e-safety reasons you should never use children’s surnames as part of their username. There is an argument with which I have some sympathy that goes beyond this and says that you should only use nicknames for usernames, and Pete Yeomans of Plymouth University wrote a very interesting blogpost on this subject that is well worth reading (as are the comments). That being said, I believe that the risks presented to children using their first names is so small that it seems reasonable to me to proceed along this basis. My own experience of using nicknames on a class blog wasn’t a happy one and I was forever getting confused as to who the authors actually were.

Here is a suggestion that seems to work well for most people:

12jamess

The number represents the cohort (year of entry or exit), followed by the first name and the first initial of the surname. If you had two James S in your cohort add 1 and 2 to the end of their usernames and so on, i.e. 12jamess1 and 12jamess2. Put the numbers at the front of the name so that when you are looking at your whole list of users they will be grouped in their cohorts.

A Word About Passwords

I like to choose a theme for a password such as trees, fruit, animals etc. The great thing about setting the passwords manually as you set up the users is that you can differentiate passwords according to ability. So Eleanor might be comfortable spelling “sycamore” while Luke might be better with “oak”. With younger ones, say Year 1 and Early Years you could always use the same password for the whole class if you were happy to give them individual logins. The Easy Blogging plugin that we use prevents children from viewing their profile so that they are not able to change their passwords themselves (hence the need to keep a record of passwords).

Clearly, the examples given are very simple passwords and you can make yours as complex as you like. What you must do is impress on the children that password security is an important issue on a live blog and they should not be sharing passwords among their mates.

Email Adresses

Because the “Add New Users” plugin allows users to be created without sending an email there is no need to use a real email address. What you must do is use an address that is in a valid format. I suggest that you use a combination of the child’s username and the school’s blog domain so you end up with something like:

12jamess@ourschoolblog.net

I teach the children to use this when commenting on posts on their own school blog, too.

You should end up with a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

Types of User

When creating users WordPress allows you to create a number of different types of user from blog administrators down to lowly subcribers. Each type has a different set of privileges on your blog (described in detail here). For the most part, teachers will want to moderate children’s blog posts before they go live so the level to choose is that of “Contributor“. If creating users of a different type, be sure to understand the implications of that before proceeding.

Here is a video showing you the process of adding users as a batch:

It’s worth extending the use of usernames into tags and I will expand on this in another post. What you have done is created a set of unique user names that can follow the children throughout school so that if they use that username as a tag on every blog that they write on they will be able to search for all their blogposts across all the blogs on your site this creating an e-portfolio.

 

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About john sutton

Founder of Creative Blogs.

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Creative Blogs are the UK's leading educational blogging specialists. We build Wordpress Multisite blog platforms for schools.

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