What could be cooler than building a site like this for your own use? More fun than humans should be allowed to have… This “thing” is meant as a guide to one of these sites as made pre-built (mostly) from the WordPress installer on the Reclaim Hosting State U site — this provides all of the plugins, menus, some starter widgets that you would have to do from scratch using the theme from GitHub.

You of course need to enter the WordPress “backend” the dashboard. If you are not familiar with the side door entrance, just put /admin after the url of your site to get to the login screen. If you do not see the black admin menu bar on your site, then you are not logged in (and you cannot do much!)

If you left the site title with the default My Blog on the installer, you can change that in Settings -> General. The majority of changes you need to consider are available from the Assignment Bank Options from the top black admin menubar.

There are many many options to set! Check the documentation tab for help and the more detailed explanation on the GitHub site. Below we summarize the more important settings to consider for your own bak site.

Things

The first field defines across the site the name the items in your collection. The entry should be singular In this demo site, we are very clever and each one is a “Thing”. It could be “Assignment” or “Recipe” or “Task” or ???

Twitter Names

The use of twitter names on the entry forms was an idea introduced for the UDG Agora Challenge Bank as a way to track contributions without requiring a login. Since twitter names are unique, we use them to identify contributions to the site. This can be turned off (not even used), made optional, or required. If you do use twitter names, it enables the use of the Leaderboard of activity. You can also add a hashtag or any other string you want used when someone tweets a “thing” from the button on each thing page.

Default Image

The default thumbnail image is used if a person creating a new “thing” does not include am image to represent it. So find an image that best represents the items in your site.

Responses, Tutorials, Both or None?

The original kind of assignment bank site provided a way for users to add either their response to an assignment or a tutorial on how to complete it. By request of people using the bank site in a we never envisioned, a selection was added to so can do both of these (each has a button link to a submission form and a list of all other form responses). Maybe tutorials are not part of your collection site. Or maybe you do not want to have any user response. So you can turn both of these sections on or off.

Submitting Responses or Syndicating

Also, in the original DS106 Assignment Bank, the way people added their response was writing a blog post with appropriate tags, and using RSS syndication to find them and associate responses with the assignment. The site can still work that way by using the Feed WordPress plugin (see below).

But if you enable the Allow visitors to submit examples via web form option, uses can add their response via a built in web form. And with that option set, this can be done with the Link to Form Submitted Examples option:

  • A brief description and a link to a web site where there is a full explanation (set option to No, links go to example URL)
  • A full detailed entry using a rich text editor. This is more like writing the blog post right in your site (set option to Yes, links go to entry on the bank site).

Either way you can choose to let the responses be published immediately, or set to draft so you can moderate.

The entry for Name for Support Things gives you the option to name what we originally called “Tutorials”.

A bank site can also be set up to use a blog syndication model. The explanation of Feed WordPress is beyond this documentation, but you can use an aggregator hub right on this site (feeds will have to be entered directly into the Feed WordPress interface). When a thing is published, it will provide a tag that a user must include in their post for it to be associated with an assignment.

The syndication hub can be on another site, as it was with ds106. In this case you need to name the site and provide it’s URL. Users in that model need to include a second tag (defined in the options as Required Tag) in addition to the assignment tag to indicate that it is a bank response.

Captcha

This feature has not been used much, but if spam becomes a problem you can add a graphical “prove you are a human” gate to your site.

Thing Types

These are the high level organizers for your items. Each has a title, a description, and a thumbnail. You can edit the ones used in this demo, or use the check box to delete them. Use the very bottom “Add New Thing Types” to add more; when the options are saved, you will then have new blank Thing Type entries to complete.

Creating Things

Always always use the front end “Add Thing” form (you can rename it by editing its page) to add items to your collection. Each one requires several specific meta data fields that are nearly impossible to set correctly if you create your things in the Dashboard (it is fine to edit them, you can see much of the meta data is in custom fields)

That’s All Folks

This seems like a lot of settings, but that has evolved to make the site as flexible as possible. Remember there is more documentation on GitHub and if you encounter problems or bugs, please report them there via GitHub Issues.

Once you have reviewed the items in this Thing, you can delete it (as well as any other demo Things), or at least set it’s Publish Status to Draft.

Thanks for banking with us!

Example for "How to Build a DS106 Assignment/Thing Bank":
https://github.com/cogdog/ds106bank

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This work by Alan Levine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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