Whew… New Class Blogs are Up

Whew… New Class Blogs are Up (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

The first week of classes is over, and the university modem pool, which was down for about a month, is finally back up. So I can finally return to my habit of blogging a bit after I’ve put the kids to bed.

My big project of late has, of course, been getting ready for my new slate of classes.

I’m using Elizabeth Lawley’s impressive Moveable Type templates in Writing for the Internet, American Lit I (1800-1915), and Seminar in Thinking and Writing.

I made a few changes to the template, most of which are minor, but a few of which are worth mentioning.

  • Since I always print a copy of my online syllabus and the first few online exercises to hand to students on the first day of classes, I was appalled by the way MT cuts off the rightmost 1.5 inches (or so) when you print a page. I had already implemented a CSS print page for most of the pages on my jerz.setonhill.edu website, so that I can print out online handouts without including the menu bars and other details that just take up space on the printed page. (I have yet to implement that for this blog, however.)
  • I put the blog in a 2004 directory, and changed the date and month archives so that it doesn’t add the year to the filepath (because otherwise we’d get files archived under “CourseNum/2004/2004/09/01”. My thinking is that the next time I teach the course, I will create a new blog in the CourseNum directory, and point its output to a directory named 2005. That way, students in future years who list out the “due dates” or “projects” category archives won’t see entries from previous years at the bottom of the page listing the current class information. The easier solution would have been to overwrite the content of the blog the next time I teach it, or to move the current information to a new directory called “archive” later on, but that destroys the whole concept of “permalinks,” doesn’t it?
  • The CourseNum/ subdirectory automatically includes the content of the CourseNum/CurrentYear directory. I can imagine wanting to link to a particular year’s course website, or wanting to link to whatever is the current syllabus. I haven’t much experience programming in .php, so at first I was a bit apprehensive about making changes. But once I remembered that the MT templates are just HTML files, I got over it. So the redirect instruction is a template that sends its output to “../index.jsp”. When the course is over, I’ll untick the box that says “automatically update this template when index pages are updated,” and when I create CourseNum/NextYear, the “../index.jsp” file will be updated with a new target URL.
  • Another very minor change… I added a “due dates” tab. I’m obviously not doing something right, since the tab isn’t highlighted when the due dates category is visible, but otherwise it works.