Team Websites: Organizations and Global Competitiveness

WordPress site: Organizations and Global Competitiveness
Site Administrator
: Gary Gereffi, Professor of Sociology
Course: Sociology 142

In Gary Gereffi’s Organizations and Global Competitiveness course engages students in a “team project experience in designing and evaluating research connected to contemporary global issues.” In the past, these team projects have been presented as standard, HTML websites developed after several web trainings.  In Spring 2010, Gereffi’s students used WordPress to create their team sites.

Here’s an image of the main course site, which simply points to each team site (each team researched a particular product or industry).

Teams took on industries such as beef, footwear, wine and athletic shoes. The teams (comprised of 3-5 students) became ‘administrators’ of their team sites, giving them the ability to change the appearance and structure of the site, as well as the ability to add and edit content such as images, diagrams, and screenshots of spreadsheets to their pages in addition to the text of their team’s reports.

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Using WordPress for Simple Course Management: The Body in/on the Market

WordPress site: The Body in/on the Market
Site Administrator: Keith Wilhite, Lecturing Fellow, Thompson Writing Program
Course: Writing 20

Keith Wilhite’s site for his Writing 20 course “The Body in/on the Market” provides a good example of using a WordPress site as a lightweight alternative to using a more robust course management tool (ex: Blackboard). Wilhite used the site to post his syllabus, course schedule, links and more.

Wilhite also created a password protected WordPress page to provide students access to course readings:

To password-protect a blog post or page, or to make it private to your blog members, click the “Visibility” link in the Publish box and select one of the options.

Students in the course also wrote and posted assignments, paper drafts, and final papers in the main blog – choosing categories to help readers sort and search through the assignments.

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Posting and Sharing Audio: Stories of Medicine

WordPress site: Stories of Medicine (note: this blog is private to group members only)
Site Administrator
: Gretchen Case, Thompson Writing Program Lecturing Fellow
Course: Writing 20: Oral History and the Stories of Medicine

Case’s students “conducted oral history interviews with physicians and other medical providers in the communities surrounding Duke.” Students recorded interviews on iPods, converted them into mp3 format, and uploaded them to the shared course site.


Since many of the interviews contained sensitive information, Case and her students worked on the site privately, using it as a searchable audio repository. Students could search for different interviews and listen to them directly from a player embedded on the page itself.


WordPress administrators can make changes to the way the built-in audio player handles mp3 files (and other audio files) via the ‘Audio Player‘ link under Settings in their site’s Dashboard.

Students Blogging on a Global Forum: World Cup and World Politics

WordPress site: World Cup and World Politics
Site Administrator
: Laurent Dubois, Professor of History and Romance Studies
Course: Cultural Anthropology 180: World Cup and World Politics

According to the site’s About page, the World Cup and World Politics site provides a place for:

“commentators, including students in the Duke University class “World Cup and World Politics” to post thoughts, musings, rants, links, etc. related to the history and politics of soccer. With the course now over, the blog will continue to host discussion on the topic from (particularly devoted) students from the course, other interested students from Duke, and correspondents elsewhere who have decided to join in the fun.”


Students in Dubois’ Fall 2009 course were encouraged to participate in the active (and still ongoing) conversation via the site’s main blog. During the semester, student groups created pages to present their research projects. Once completed, the projects were made public to accept additional feedback and comments from the wider audience of soccer fanatics, history buffs and even some professional journalists.


On the technical side, Dubois created connections to the larger soccer community by linking to (and posting) Flickr feeds, RSS feeds (which displayed syndicated headlines from other popular sources), and more recently – by connecting the site to a Twitter account (see image below).


Examples from other universities

WordPressMU is much more than just a blogging tool. Here are some examples of WordPress sites being used for teaching and learning at other universities:

Course homepage/administration tool

WordPress can function as the central course administrative tool for faculty to share syllabi and other course materials, conduct course discussions, and collect students’ work.

Multimedia “curation” sites

The ability to link and categorize multimedia materials (audio, video, etc) makes WordPress an idea tool for creating sites that bring together materials from the rest of the web.

Presentations and research projects

Instead of presenting with a simple PowerPoint, why not create an entire mini-website devoted to the subject?

Student portfolios

Students can decide on the design, layout and presentation of content for their work in a particular course.

Student groups, lab management and more

Groups of students working on team-based projects can use WordPress as a team management tool (post and share resources, documents and updates), and as a notebook tool to capture their work as they go.


Of course, WordPress also works incredibly well as a blogging platform. Faculty may want to create a single blog and ask students to comment on particular topics. Faculty might also consider giving each student their own blog to organize course reflective writing activities, post papers, etc.

For more ideas:

10 ways to use UMW blogs

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