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Week 2: Getting Through Bootcamp

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Congratulations! You’ve officially completed your first week of ds106 bootcamp. You should be proud of your accomplishments. This week, we’ll be continuing to work our way through the ds106 obstacle course as you work further on customizing your blogs, wrap your heads around the wonderful world of tagging, make email addresses, set up main welcome site, and attempt to complete your very first digital story assignment.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by The National Guard

We have a lot to do in bootcamp, so there are no videos assigned to watch. Keep in mind that the two live video sessions this week are optional to attend; they are always archived. Upcoming this week we have:

  • The ds106 Show (Tuesday Jan 22 at 4:30pm EST). This week we will recap the bootcamp scene, talk about WordPress. Tentative guest on Tuesday is Martha Burtis from UMW, who has taught the ds106 class before.
  • ds106 Open Lab (Thursdau Jan 24 at 9:00pm EST) I will again do a live broadcast reviewing much of the WordPress setup things you are asked to do below.

The links for these sessions in Google Hangout will be sent out on twitter, and after the show is started, you will be able to find the button to join at

Your Own Email Address

You have the ability to create your own custom email addresses that use your new domain name. Because you do not have a huge amount of storage, we suggest you make your email addresses forward the mail to your regular email address or the one you set up for class using Gmail which is free and has lots of storage.

To set up your email log into UMW Domains.

Under Mail click Add Email Address.

create email address

Be sure to UNCHECK the box next to Mailbox. We do not want to store email on our own domain. Pick the name you want to use- it can be anything!.

After creating it, your new address should be listed on your Email Addresses panel. Maybe you want o create more than one?

Now we want to make it forward to our preferred address. Click the new email address form your list of created ones. Then click the Forwarding tab,

email forwarding

Check the box for Switch On Mail Forwarding and enter the existing email address you would like to receive the email (this could be a gmail address, your UMW address, what ever you wish).

Try out the address, make sure it forwards to the account you selected. You may want to update some of your social media profiles to use this address as a contact.

Customizing Your Blog

So, you’ve got WordPress installed, and you know how to write posts and pages. Now what? This week we want you to begin tricking your blog out so that it is a well-oiled machine that reflects a bit of your personality. You’ll be installing themes and plugins as well as changing some of the general settings and options on your blog.

Changing Your Theme

The theme of your site dictates what your site looks like. By default, you had a theme installed on your site called Twenty-Twelve. It’s a perfectly fine theme, with options to add graphics to the header and change colors but you probably would like your site to not look like everyone else’s.

You are not required to change your theme, but it is worth learning how to do so.

To that end, you may want to install a new theme on your site. Look under AppearanceThemes. Then click the Install tab. From here you can search all of the free themes available from These can be intalled directly into your site.

Keep in mind that your content is completely separate from the theme, which defines the appearance. So when you change themes, your content goes with it, but gets reformatted.

If you need help we have a video that shows you how to install a new theme on your blog:

Settings & Options to Customize

  1. Blog Title: First, and foremost, if you haven’t already you absolutely MUST change the name of your blog from to something more interesting. Go to Settings -> General and pick a name that represents you. Make sure te tagline says something other than “Just another WordPress blog” – depending on your template design, this may or may not appear on your site
  2. Permalinks: Don’t be scared off by this term. Permalinks are just the format that WordPress uses to create links to the content on your site. By default, the permalinks use a format that looks something like This may be fine if you are using categories well, but there are also options to make your URLs include a date to indicate when it was written. This is up to you, but you should make and stick to this setting earlier (if you change it later, you may break any links to your posts. To set Permalinks this go to Settings -> Permalinks and choose any permalink setting other than the default.
  3. Menus: Menus are a way for you to organize your content on your blog. You can create a sophisticated menu structure that mixes links to WordPress pages, categories, and external links.

Here’s a video that covers permalinks, menus, and other basic WordPress settings:


You may have noticed a menu item in your blog called “Plugins.” These are simply programs that people have written to extend the basic functionality of WordPress. For this class, we require you to install a few plugins that will make your blog run better. Click Add New under the Plugs menu to search for ones you may want to add, and then install from there. Note that plugins have to be activated via a link before they will be functional

  • Akismet: A spam-catching plugin. You most definitely want this one; students are already getting spam comments. If a comment appears and sounds very general (“nice blog, I will return often”), not directly related to what you wrote, and has a link to a business or other sort of commercial site, it is most likely spam.

    To use Akismet, you will need to register for an access code via the Akismet signup page. Pick the Personal Blog option, and you can enter a $0 donation to use it for free.

  • JetPack: A great collection of many plugins in one. Adds stats and email subscriptions for comments, as well as a tool to automatically post your new blog posts to twitter and/or Facebook.

    You will have to create / use a account to set up Jetpack

  • Flickr plugin: You might want to choose a Flickr plugin to integrate your blog with your Flickr account. A few possibilities:

See the ds106 Handbook for .

In addition, we encourage to browse the Plugin Repository and install any other plugins that look interesting! See if you can find a plugin you would recommend to others.


Most WordPress themes include one or more sidebars, areas where you can add extra content and special code to build out your site. Visit AppearanceWidgets in your dashboard to find out what is available to add. You just drag them from the list on the left to any open sidebar panels on the right, and you can drag them up and down to change the order. Generally you have options to customize what the widget shows and how its title is displayed.

Useful ones include Archives, Tag Clouds, Recent Posts, Recent Comments. Additional widgets are described on the WordPress site – they are installed as plugins

Making that Front Entrance Site

In bootcamp, we want to make sure your ds106 blogging is set up via its own site. Remember, if you made a domain called, your ds106 blogging is going on at

But we want something at our primary domain – – other than the UMW bus, right? Yes!

We can install another wordpress blog there and use it as a simple site to be a welcome. Some of you already have that because you did your first wordpress b;log there as a mistake. That might work to your advantage, because it si sitting there already.

If you do not have anything installed there, go back to your UMW Domains panel, and install a new wordpress blog at your top domain. Be sure to use a different theme then you are for your ds106 site, so you know they are different. You can use the default Twenty-Twelve theme, or maybe you want to try some of these simpler templates:

For this week, I just want you to make sure you have a second blog set up as a place holder. By the end of the course you will know how to build it out. In this week’s Open Studio, I will give some more ideas you show you how to make this work over the rest of the semester.

Some of you have already zoomed ahead! See this sample front welcome sites made by your classmates:

Daily Creates

You’ll be notching up your daily create work this week by one, kind of like doing chin-ups for bootcamp. It should be a good break from all of this WordPress stuff.

You must complete af least two daily creates this week — you can pick which ones you do. You should not blog about each one, but you must follow the instructions on the Daily Create page to ensure that your contributions show up on that site (Please keep in mind that it can take services like YouTube and Flickr up to a day for your tagged stuff to show up — this is beyond our control).

Remember, these are meant to be short, quick tasks — do not spend more than 10-15 minutes on them!

What you should do, by the end of the week, is to write a summary blog post of your Daily Creates for the entire week, with all of the work you did embedded (if it was a Writing type, you should be able to lik directly to your own contribution). Do not just slap the media up there, make sure you link back to the original dailycreate and/or describe the task. And also write about the thinking or process that went into the way you created your own.

And use the categories you set up last week to organize your Daily Create posts!

Your First Digital Story

This week, we’re also going to ask you to do your very first digital storytelling assignment from the ds106 Assignment Bank. The Repository is filled with media assignments that we’ll be using extensively this semester. Your first assignment is “Say it Like the Peanut Butter,” in which you’ll be creating an animated gif of a clip from your favorite (or least favorite) movie. You must also follow the instructions on the assignment page to ensure that your contribution shows up on the Assignment Bank site (this means using the two tags listed in your blog post).

I’m not going to tell you how to make an animated GIF. Rather, I expect you to use the tutorials on the assignment page and/or do your own research into how to complete this task (hint also look in the ds106 Handbook). This is a little bootcamp exercise to test your resourcefulness. If you get stuck, should you just spin your wheels alone? No– use your tools (cough… twitter) (cough… #ds106 hashtag) to seek help.

Just see what you can learn and do. Do not invest a lot of time perfecting this, I am interested in seeing what you can figure out on your own, and I am not not expecting perfection. Furthermore, I want you to get accustomed to using the Assignment Bank and tagging your submissions properly.

On Blog Writing

Speaking of writing, you should be finding that the way you write on your blog will evolve as you get to understand the space it occupies (and that you own it). I am not looking for academic essays or the usual kind of brain dumps students do to fill blue books.

What I am looking for is that you are thinking about the work you are doing and the topics we present. When you post a digital story piece of media, that is only part of the process. I want to see some evidence of your line of thinking, the inspiration behind it, and the context.

Each blog post must be able to stand on its own as something that makes sense if that is the only thing a visitor reads on your site.

The first thing you need to be doing as much as possible is using hyperlinks when you write in your blog. It is what makes the web a web. When you are writing about one of the videos we assigned or a Daily Create, if a user reads it, will they know what you are referring to? No. Link them to it. When you discuss your previous work, link to it. When you reference a movie that you used to create an animated GIF, link to a page about it (like IMDB or Wikipedia).

For more on this in relation to ds106, see:

Weekly Summary

You are required to write up your activities for the week by midnight on Sunday (January 27) in a weekly summary on your post and submit that as a URLK in Canvas. Be sure to double check the address, and make sure it id the public URL (not a link to something inside your wp-admin)

Here’s a run-down of what you must include in that summary this week:

  • Were you able to create an email forwarding address? What is it?
  • Is your blog listed with the class blogs? Check the right side of, the page that displays all posts from our class mixed together. If your blog is not listed, maybe you forgot to register it with the site. If it’s title is not distinctive, review the Settings – General options in your wordpress dashboard.
  • Reflect upon the process of customizing your blog — What were able to add with plugins, widgest, changing themes? At a minimum, make sure you install and set up the Akismet plugin- it does magic to stop spam comments from even entering your blog. What did you have trouble with? Do you feel like your blog is a reflection of you and your identity now? What other things would you like to be able to do in this space?
  • Link to and describe how you were able to set up your welcome site, and make it different from (or connected to) your ds106 site.
  • Embed your two Daily Creates (and/or link to your summary post of Daily Create activity) and tell us a little about the process of creating them.
  • Embed your Digital Storytelling GIF assignment and tell us a little about the process of creating it, or at least what you tried to create.
  • Talk about week two in general: How is your experience of ds106 going? What did you think of bootcamp? What do you need help with?

If you do all of this you are ready to leave Bootcamp.


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