Ways to use U.OSU

Looking to start your own website? With Ohio State, it’s all about U! U.OSU is Ohio State’s free, easy-to-use online platform that allows Ohio State students and faculty to create, design and maintain their own website. Where do you even begin to make your own website and how can it help you in the future? Here are four reasons why you’ll want to use U.OSU:

1. U’re Hired

Have you started applying for post-graduation summer internships or full-time positions? U.OSU can act as an online portfolio displaying all your academic achievements as well as extracurricular projects and organizations that you’ve been involved with throughout your collegiate career. Bypass the heartache of condensing your cover letter and résumé to one page by inserting a link to your U.OSU site that has in-depth descriptions of all your accomplishments. Job hunters will be able to read firsthand accounts on how each collegiate project or experience has challenged and strengthened your skill sets, making you a qualified candidate for the job.

2. U Went Around the World in 80 Days

Are you spending your break outside of the United States through a study abroad trip? When you’re in a whirlwind of traveling and experiencing new cultures every day, it can be hard to remember when and where you visited historic places, ate unique foods or ran into abnormal situations. Often, monumental experiences stick out in your mind rather than the little everyday pleasantries that make studying abroad worthwhile. By turning your U.OSU site into a travel blog, you can preserve those memories for a lifetime. How cool will it be when you’re 85 and you can read what you did, felt and thought about when you were 20, roaming the streets of Italy? It’s like Time Hop, but better because it won’t be crowded with cringe-worthy junior high angst-filled Facebook statuses.

3. U’ve Got Class

The dreaded final class projects are coming up and your teacher not only wants you to showcase what you learned throughout the semester, but they want you to do so in a creative way. Don’t panic, U.OSU can be used for class projects too, especially writing-based projects. You can use your U.OSU site to display all the information needed in your class project in the form of a blog. By turning your class project into a blog, you will demonstrate your writing skills through a distinguished voice as well as an easy way to separate your ideas into individual blog posts, making a huge clump of information easier to digest. Check out how students in Media Editing and Writing used U.OSU for their final projects.

4. U Write

Are you trying to be the next writer for The Daily Show or a journalist for Variety, or do you have strong thoughts about events happening in your life and the world today? U.OSU can serve as a digital platform where you can try your hand at satirical news, post your poetry or short stories, or share your thoughts with your fellow Buckeye Community through a series of personal essays. The pen might have been mightier than the sword back in the day, but the keyboard may be the champion of both.

These are just four possibilities out of the many ways you can utilize U.OSU, because in the end you get to decide what you want your U.OSU to be. It all starts with U and it ends with U. Get started on building your own digital web platform with U.OSU, and if you need help along the way, check out these resources.

U.OSU Offers Five Unique Themes

In case you missed it, U.OSU released two new themes in 2016 (Oxley and Orton) to fit a variety of needs, giving you a total of five unique layouts to choose from.

If you’re unfamiliar with U.OSU, just think of it as a free website platform that utilizes features from WordPress, making it easy for you to update and manage your own university- and college-branded web space. U.OSU lets faculty, staff and students share independent work, host course assignments, enhance project visibility, communicate within groups and represent their organizations. And it’s entirely free!

  • The Ohio State Dark theme is great for a high-contrast blog site, letting the most recent posts really pop on the page.
  • The Ohio State Light theme is popular for hosting academic materials, thanks to the side navigation running along the page.
  • The Oval theme includes space for a photo header so you can customize the look and feel of the landing page for your site.
  • One of the latest themes, Oxley, gives you the option to include feature images, or photo headers, to your posts. This layout is ideal when visuals are a prominent portion of your stories.
  • Another new theme, Orton, is designed as an online portfolio space. Use this theme to showcase your projects in the office or the classroom.

How to Use: Categories & Tags

Whether using U.OSU for a class site, personal blog or portfolio, utilizing categories and tags (and knowing the difference between them) is beneficial in more ways than one. Increased organization creates a better user experience and can also drive more traffic to your content.

What are they?

Categories allow you to group posts into broader topics.

They collect and organize content structurally and can be hierarchical. You can set your categories and their order in your WordPress dashboard ahead of time. For example, if you’re setting up a class blog, you might know you want your categories to be homework, class activities, readings and resources. Read More

Terms of Service & Footer Text

We updated the U.OSU Terms of Service to accommodate departmental sites in an official Ohio State capacity. This change stems from university departments recognizing the value of the free, university-supported web platform.

On Thursday, December 18, you’ll notice a new footer option in the Customize menu on your Dashboard. It will allow people managing official sites to replace the default language with a departmental footer.

Default footer text will remain the same; it states that the content is owned by the person who developed the site. The new option only applies to sites that contain content or ideas owned by an entity within Ohio State. For example, a site that officially represents the staff, offerings, and events of a department, is a candidate for the departmental footer.

Next time you log in, please accept the updated terms before continuing to your site. If you are managing a departmental site, visit the Resource Center for instructions on how to change your footer.

U.OSU sites are intended to support and represent professional and educational activities at Ohio State. The possibilities under that umbrella are very wide. Create a simple profile or a class blog, house an academic portfolio, manage a student org, share research findings, or document a study abroad experience. If your site content falls within the personal-professional realm, and complies with Terms of Use, the direction is up to you. If you are building a departmental site, utilize the departmental footer, check for College and Campus branding, and design the site to meet your unit’s official needs.

We Asked, You Answered. [INFOGRAPH]

In our last newsletter we asked users a couple of questions, like “How do you use U.OSU?” and “What do you like about the service?” Your responses were tallied and we’re taking your comments and suggestions into consideration as we move forward to improve the university’s web platform service.

u.osu survey results snapshot

View the entire infographic on ODEE News.

We noticed some common requests have a few existing solutions or workarounds.

Request: I want to include a form.

Solution: Check out all the features Formidable brings to the table.

Request: I would like my U.OSU to look like a website, not a blog.

Solution: While U.OSU inherently lists your Posts in chronological order, a few changes in Settings can help customize the look and feel of your site. Use Pages to achieve a static website aesthetic.

Read More

Web Space for Student Orgs

Leading a student organization is much like running a business. Except most student leaders are doing it while also balancing classes, social lives and part-time jobs. Using U.OSU simplifies the process of managing a website and not to mention it is completely free.

There are a number of features we’ve set up to give student orgs a versatile and all-encompassing web hosting service while simultaneously helping their professional appearance.

screen shot of u.osu.edu/osuphigam

U.OSU sites are multi-functional and can be set up as static websites, blogs, or a group site (or all three!). Most student organizations will see value in a static website or incorporating a static front page to a group blog. Check out this fraternity’s awesome page. The static site option is ideal for groups such as this one because you can just add and hide new content when necessary.

“Our graduate philanthropy golf outing had a registration page but now that’s over so we get rid of that page and replace it with a recruitment tab,” said Jacob Menken, the recording secretary for Phi Gamma Delta and primary manager of their website.

Even if you want to have one page with blog-like updates, you can have multiple static pages, including a static homepage, like this postdoctoral association. U.OSU is a WordPress platform so many students feel a sense of familiarity with the Dashboard and find setting up a site is simple with a little background knowledge or quick glance of the Resource Center, like this tutorial on setting up static sites and pages.

Another valuable feature for student organizations is the ability to add users and assign roles with varied permissions. The roles range from an administrator, who has full access and control of the site, down to subscribers. These permissions make it easier to give members on an executive board the power to edit certain posts while the head of the organization can still filter and review content.

Read More

Reach Google Glory with SEO

hand on computer mouse close upIf you’re looking to increase traffic to your U.OSU site you’re probably wondering what this SEO business is all about.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of manipulating your website in order to increase the number of visitors you receive from search engines. Sounds great, right? But how does it work?

Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the primary force in driving Internet traffic.

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Increase Font Size and Zoom In

Our U.OSU themes are designed to behave well in all browsers and devices. That responsiveness includes using size 14 font to comply with web and accessibility standards. While you cannot alter the default font size, headings can help signify importance in your posts and also increase readability. If you still find yourself squinting at the screen, try out the options below to increase font size on your own browser or simply zoom in on a page.

Read More

Featured on ODEE.osu.edu

Denise Ellsworth of The Bee Lab

We were happy to see a great example of how to make U.OSU work for you on the Office of Distance Education and eLearning News this week.

“When the College of Arts and Sciences and ODEE teamed up to launch the U.OSU pilot in September 2013, Denise Ellsworth, Program Director for Honey Bee and Native Pollinator Education, the transformative platform could enhance how The Bee Lab functions online.

The Bee Lab, a research and education facility on the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center campus in Wooster, is a great example of how Ohio State branding and U.OSU customization can create a comprehensive yet navigable site.” 

Whether your site serves as a resource, a blog (or both like The Bee Lab!), a forum or a student org homepage, U.OSU is all about what YOU do at the university. Read more from Denise’s interview and browse our Featured Sites to get inspired.