Faculty and students can request private WordPress sites through the Georgetown Commons.

These sites are free to any users with a Georgetown NetID. These sites are private by default, requiring a NetID to log in. This is what the login will look like.

To request a Commons WordPress site, complete this form, or email commons@georgetown.edu.


The information on this page will lead you through the steps of updating your Georgetown website. If you have any further questions please contact commons@georgetown.edu.

General Information


The "Dashboard" is the back end of the blog, and is not visible to the public. This is where users make changes and additions to the blog. The Dashboard gives a quick snapshot of the blog activity: the number of posts, number of comments, updates about WordPress, and access to every setting. To access your Dashboard, log into your site and select "Site admin" or "Dashboard" on the top navigation bar. 


Your username is located in the top right hand corner of the page. You can edit your profile settings by clicking on your username. Your username will be your Georgetown NetID. In the Profile, you can change your name, share some biographical information, and update your contact information.

Site Title

The title of the blog is located at the top left hand corner of the page. The example site is called "Testing." Clicking on the title will take you to the public facing side of your blog.

To customize your site title, go to the Dashboard -- "Settings" -- "General" -- update "Site Title" and/or "Tagline" -- Save.

My Sites

This sidebar link will take you to a page with a list of all the blogs that you are a member of. The larger "My Sites" (in the top right corner) will take you to the same place, or, if you hover your mouse over it, display a list of your sites.

"Quick Draft" Module

The Quick Draft module allows you to write a post straight from the dashboard rather than navigating to the post menu. You can enter a title, write you post and click the "Save Draft" button to save your post without publishing to the public facing side of your blog. To open up a full text editing window and publish the draft, you will have to navigate to the post menu.

Post Module

To add a post or edit a quick draft post, go to Dashboard --  "Posts". All posts (drafts, scheduled, and live) are listed here in order of post date.

There are two ways to edit posts from here:

  1. Quick Edit: Hover over the post title, and the "quick edit" option will appear, which allows you to edit some aspects of your post (title, slug, date, author, password, privacy, categories, tags, comments, status, and sticky.), and,

  2. Full edit: Click on the post title, or hover over the post title and chose "edit". This option allows you full edit options.

"At A Glance" Module

The "At a Glance" module (featured right) allows you to quickly access your blog's published and unpublished content that is saved in the back end. From here, you can click on one of the categories which will lead to that section in the backend.

"Activity" Module

The "Activity" module shows all of the most recent updates to your site, including new posts, pages, and comments. This section gives you an overview of the recent activity so you can be better connected to your work without having to check each section individually.


Create and manage all of your blog's content through this sidebar. Hover your mouse over each item to see the options.

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Top navigation bar.
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This is what a quick draft post looks like.
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Here you can see what has happened on your blog at a quick glance.
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This is where your recent blog activity is listed.
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This is the sidebar.

General Settings

The general settings in WordPress will allow you to change your site title, tagline, administrator email, timezone, date format, time format, and week start date. To find these settings, go to Dashboard - "Settings" - "General". Only an administrator of a blog can change the general settings.


WordPress allows the administrator to control who can see their site, including sections of the site.

To change the privacy settings, log in to the administrative side of your blog and go to "Settings" - "Reading". You have five options:

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1. The first option means that your posts could show up in Google's search results!

2. The second option will make your site to be visible to anyone if they have the link or know the URL. Search engines could also show your site but it is less likely.

3, 4, 5. The third, fourth, and fifth options will make your site visible only to Georgetown users as specified. These options are best used for private course blogs. Typically, the fourth option is the setting that Commons recommends and uses for private course blogs.

To change the privacy setting, select your new option and "Save Changes".

Please note: students and student groups should alert their faculty advisors that they have made their blogs public if they decide to do so.

User Management

Adding a User

In the dashboard sidebar, navigate to "Users" - "Add User". To add the user, enter the NetID of the individual to add. To find a NetID, go to contact.georgetown.edu. Then, select the Role of this individual (described below). Click on "Add User", and this user will now have access to the blog in whatever degree indicated. To add multiple users of the same role at the same time, scroll down to the "Add Bulk Users" text box and enter in all the NetIDs of the users. Make sure that each NetID is on its own line, and that you have selected the role of the users.

Roles on WordPress

There are five roles available to users on WordPress: administrator, editor, author, contributor, and subscriber. These roles are assigned when users are added to the blog, but the roles can be changed by the administrator.

  • Administrator - user who has access to all the administration features within the site.
  • Editor – user who can publish and manage all posts including those of other users.
  • Author – user who can only publish and manage their own posts.
  • Contributor – user who can write and manage their own posts but cannot publish them.
  • Subscriber – user who can only manage their profile and view the blog.

Dropping a User

To drop a user, click on the "Users" button on the Dashboard toolbar on the left. This will bring up a list of all users assigned to the blog. Toggling underneath the name of the user you want to delete will bring up an "edit" and "delete" option. Click the "delete" button. There is a prompt to "Confirm Deletion" as a final step.

To delete multiple users, first click the check box to the left of all the users' names you want to remove. Go to the "Bulk Action" drop down menu positioned above the user names, choose delete and hit the "Apply" button. There is a prompt to "Confirm Deletion" as a final step.

Alumni Access

After graduation, students can gain alumni access to their old blogs with three simple steps.

  1. Send an email to commons@georgetown.edu requesting post-graduation access. Include a link to your blog and your non-Georgetown email address.
  2. You will later receive a confirmation email at that address, prompting you to create a new password. Do so.
  3. If you do not receive the confirmation email, let the Commons team know ASAP at commons@georgetown.edu.


Widgets are a "simple way to arrange the various elements of your sidebar content" (WordPress Codex). Examples of popular widgets include log-in tools, RSS feeds, a list of blog pages, a list of links (your "blogroll"), and a list of blog authors. In WordPress, you can drag and drop these modules into your sidebar and arrange them in the order that you would like to have them appear on your sidebar.

Adding widgets to your blogavailable widgets

To browse the widgets that are available to you, go to Dashboard -- "Appearance" -- "Widgets". You will see a list of "Available Widgets", a list of "Inactive Widgets", and on the left a "Sidebar" box. Drag and drop your "available" or "inactive" widgets over to the sidebar box. You can then open the widgets by clicking on the downward arrow at the top of the widget box; most provide the option of renaming or changing some of the display properties. If you want to remove a widget, simply drag it back over to "Inactive Widgets," and it will save the settings you have changed until the next time you want to use that widget.


Some themes come with
 predefined widgets in the sidebar, and by adding widgets in the appearance menu you might overwrite the current defaults. However, you can add them back.

If you are using our Georgetown Course Template, you should be aware that changing your widgets will override the sidebar that came automatically with the course blog template. You can reconstruct the course blog template sidebar with widgets by doing the following:

  1. Add a "Pages" widget and rename it "Course Documents."widget sidebar
  2. Go to "Plugins" and activate the "Authors - sidebar widget" plugin.
  3. Add the new "Authors" widget to your sidebar.
  4. Add the "Tags" widget.
  5. Add the "Categories" widget.
  6. Add the "Archives" widget.

Pedagogical Approaches

There are two types of blog approaches: hub and spoke, and individual. The first is more common due to course styles, while individual is typically used by Capstone or Thesis students doing independent work.

Hub and Spoke

For this approach, there is a central course blog (aka "the hub") that is maintained by the Professor as an admin. All of the students have access to the main site but have their own "spoke" blog that they maintain. These individual blogs are linked to the main site through the side menu. They can be viewed and commented on by the other students in the class and the professor.

There are two ways to add links to the student sites on the sidebar of the main course hub.

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Text widget serving as a site sidebar.
  1. Using the text widget is an easy way to add the links if you have basic understanding of HTML. Go to the Customize tab under "Appearances" in the side menu of the dashboard. Continue through the "Widgets" and then "Main Sidebar" choices. Then drag a "Text Widget" from the bottom of the menu and drop it in the sidebar. Give it the title of "Student", or whatever is desired. The image on the right demonstrates the "Text Widget" sidebar with  HTML similar to a typical course sidebar.

2. Although not supported by all themes on WordPress, you can add a "Custom Menu" from the Menu page. This can be found from the "Menu" sub-tab under the "Appearances tab in the dashboard. From there, you create a new menu which you can title "Students", or whatever is desired. Under the new title, you can add link with the name of the student and a link to the URL of their individual blog site.

Individual Blogs

An individual blog is similar to the spoke of the previous pedagogy. The difference is that rather than being connected to a main course blog, the individual blog is a stand-alone site. Typically, this site has two administrators: the student and the professor.

For my questions on this topic, or to learn which type is best for your circumstance, please contact commons@georgetown.edu.


Learn more about the other tools and services that Georgetown offers.