Category: News

Introducing New Services: Site Building, Migrations, and Content Updates

After a year long pilot, we’re thrilled to be able to make it official!

We now offer new content and migration services for any sites or Multisite Networks that we host.

What could this mean for you and the sites you work with? Let’s dig in…

1. Site Building & Migrations

Migrating existing sites to CampusPress or building out new sites can be a time-consuming process. Even seemingly simple tasks like configuring plugins, creating navigation menus, and setting up user permissions can be a challenge if you don’t do it frequently.

So, save that time (and money) and have our team take care of it. You simply provide content or a link to an existing site, any layout ideas or requirements, and we handle the rest.

We can use your designs and your style/branding guidelines, or we can match the look and feel of an existing site – even if it’s not built with WordPress. We can migrate existing content or start from scratch too.

For our Multisite platform customers, we can handle site request form submissions and work directly with faculty or staff to manually set up new sites to ensure the quality of the content and design too.

As we create sites, we’ll keep accessibility top-of-mind (such as alt text, captions, and proper headings) and work collaboratively with site owners to ensure a smooth site launch.

2. Content Updates

Content Updates is an add-on subscription service where our team is available 24/7 to make any needed content changes on any site that we host.

For example, we can collaborate directly with faculty or staff to update sites without the need for them to even have WordPress access.

We can also be a backup team for any emergency or urgent content that needs to be posted. We can create and publish alert notifications or news posts quickly.

Additionally, we can assist with more regular or manual updates to sites such as changes to staff directories, image galleries, event calendars, and more.

How does this work?

  1. Send us all content updates and changes (including new pages or posts) to either a private email address or a shared Slack channel.
  2. Our team will add the new content or make the changes.
  3. Importantly, we’ll do an accessibility review of the page content and take care of all alt text, markup, and whatever may be needed.
  4. We’ll follow any governance or requirements you have, such as branding/style guidelines or other content standards.
  5. We can either publish immediately or send back a private preview link for your approval before making changes live.

Want To Learn More?

These new services complement our end-user support, training, and custom theme development services. We aim to be a seamless extension and partner of web teams big and small.

If this sounds interesting, or if you have any questions at all, please get in touch using the form below.

About Us

At CampusPress, we’re experts in bringing innovative web solutions to schools, school districts, colleges, and universities through WordPress and our wide range of out-of-the-box and custom plugins and products.

In fact, our services in accessibility, security, hosting, support, along with an extensive suite of other tools, power millions of education websites, blog networks and portfolios. Learn more about our school website services or request info today!

New Audit Logs and Better Network Reports

New Audit Logs and Better Network Reports

by Ronnie Burt
August 6, 2020

We have a couple of new and improved tools to help our Super Administrators manage WordPress Multisite networks with ease!

Here’s a video version of this post with an overview and screencast too.

Like for many of you, August is always our busiest month of the year – our team has been planning and we are ready for the increased support requests, the launch of many new sites and migrations, and higher traffic on the sites we host. Given the more virtual nature of everything going on, we are expecting and prepared for even higher levels than normal.

And to help those of you that work with the sites that we host, we wanted to highlight one new and one improved tool – both of which have been highly requested.

We’re excited to show them off, so let’s take a closer look….

New Network Audit Logs

As a Super Administrator, when you log in to the Network Dashboard, you’ll see two new menu items near the top left.

The first is Audit Logs. We’ve developed a service, all hosted in the same data center as your site, that stores lots of information about user activity. We keep the logs for 30 days on a rotating basis, and you can export the results of the logs whenever needed.

An animated gif showing successful logins, theme switch, and site archival in an audit log.

A look under the Settings tab will show you all of the different options and actions that can be logged.

  • user role changes
  • network option changes
  • users being added or removed from a site
  • user logins, registrations, and deletes
  • media, post, and page deletes
  • theme changes
  • site archives and deletions
  • plugin activations and deactivations

So you can finally answer the question of who activated a certain plugin and when. Let us know if there’s anything else that you can think of that should be tracked and we will do our best to add it in.

Improved Reports and Batch Edits

The second feature to discuss is our Network Reports and Batch Edits – we used to call these Super Admin Scripts. We hope that the new name will make it a bit easier to find and know what it does.

You simply index a network and then you can download all kinds of reports – like sites that are set to private or are archived – sites that are using a given plugin or theme – or get a list of all sites and users on a network complete with valuable details for better reporting and analytics.

The real power here comes in the ‘Batch Edits’ tab.

By copy/pasting in a list of site IDs, URLs, or usernames from those exported reports, you can make mass changes across an entire Multisite Network with just one click. This is great for archiving sites of students when they graduate or finish a course. You can also change the themes or privacy of a site, and do quite a bit more.

Please give these tools a try and let us know how you go. As always, we welcome all feedback and look forward to more great stuff coming down the pike in the weeks and months to come.

Attend The Free WPCampus 2020 Online Conference

Attend The Free WPCampus 2020 Online Conference

by Nathan Smith

Last updated on July 9, 2020

This year’s WPCampus Conference (“a gathering of web professionals, educators, and people dedicated to the confluence of WordPress in higher education”) will be taking place online July 29-30. While we are sad at the idea of not seeing some of the regular attendees face-to-face, we are excited that the conference will continue and the community is still thriving. Now more than ever, the importance of online resources in education is very evident.

We are honored to sponsor the conference, as we have for many years.

WPCAMPUS 2020 - July 29 through 30th.

The CampusPress team will be in attendance, manning our ‘virtual booth’ in Slack where we welcome all existing and potential customers to join us, interact, and say hello.

We also have two sessions on the schedule we invite you to attend.

At 1:30 pm Central Time on July 29th, CampusPress will host a session showcasing our new Flex theme and Accessible Content plugin. Both tools provide the resources needed to quickly create a fully accessible school website with a beautiful design.

At 3:00 pm Central Time on July 30th, our General Manager, Ronnie Burt, will host a session on Digging Into Privacy. The session will cover tools and best practices to meet expectations and legal requirements around security and data privacy.

A full schedule of all of the sessions can be found here on the WPCampus website.

Registration is free and open. We hope to see you there!

New Accessibility Tools Now Free For The WordPress Community

New Accessibility Tools Now Free For The WordPress Community

by Ronnie Burt
May 13, 2020

Today, we are releasing two plugins and a blazing fast theme for free – all on our CampusPress Github for the WordPress community. And of course, all of which are also available on all sites that we host.

Here’s a video version of this post with an overview and screencast too.

My first paid job on the web was as an undergraduate intern interpreting accessibility scan results of University of Texas websites. That was nearly 20 years ago, and honestly, not much has changed. The same accessibility mistakes that were common then are still common now. 

In fact, despite the increased awareness and resources available, websites are getting less accessible year after year.

And while there are dozens of tools out there to help you evaluate and improve the accessibility of websites, they are often complex and geared towards developers. What about the average user and content creator? There’s not much.

So, we set out to focus specifically on two key areas when it comes to the accessibility of WordPress sites:

  1. User education
  2. Prevention of problems before they occur

The three products we describe below are a huge step towards this goal.

Let’s take a look…

Introducing The Accessible Content Plugin

Get Accessible Content On Github

Our new Accessible Content plugin brings real time education and accessibility checking right inside WordPress. 

Here’s how it works – when a page or post is updated, we force users to preview the content before it can be published. In the preview, you’ll see potential accessibility issues highlighted with helpful text on how it can be improved. 

Animated example of how the Accessible Content plugin works - showing a warning when a video does not have captions.

With this plugin, we are only providing feedback on the content itself. This is on purpose, as while there are other types of accessibility problems a site may have, these are handled by the theme or plugins, and not something the end-user has control of. Over time, those using it will learn how to avoid potential accessibility problems before they occur in all content they publish. 

We also only present one error at a time. This is by design as we find most accessibility checker reports to be overwhelming to the point where they begin to just be ignored.

These are just a few of the potential issues we look for:

  • improper use of headings
  • link text that is too short or not descriptive
  • missing or poor alt text
  • videos without captions
  • low color contrast
  • a reminder to check PDFs for compliance
  • missing table headings and labels 

For example, did you know that if a link opens up in a new browser tab or window, the text in or around the link should say so? We check for that and provide a warning.

Similarly, the alt text for an image should never start with the words “image of” as it is redundant since screen readers already announce images. We check for that too. 

The plugin also adds a new page in the dashboard to help users add alt text to any images that need it all in one place. A shout out here to Providence College (opens in new tab) who built something similar to this into the theme for their main site and allowed us to take the idea for others to use. 

This is just the first iteration of this plugin, and we look forward to improving as we go. For example, in the works is more help inside the WordPress dashboard on how to write quality alt text. We welcome pull requests in the Accessible Content project on Github and encourage feedback on how else we can make it more useful.  

The plugin is available today on all CampusPress hosted sites. Please contact support if you have questions about how to enable.

Everyone else, download the Accessible Content plugin from Github.

Accessible Flex Theme

Get Flex Theme On Github

Next up is our new theme called “Flex”, which we rolled out earlier this year. In fact, you are using Flex right now as we just updated this website to it a few days ago.

We kept the same basic look and feel as our old site, and the migration only took about a week. No child theme, hardly any custom CSS, and all built with WordPress Gutenberg editor and a few basic blocks. 

Everything is managed with simple, but flexible, settings in the Theme Customizer.

An animated gif showing customizer settings of the Flex theme.

From fonts, to button types, animations, and navigation menus. No two sites need to look the same. 

One of our accessibility safety-nets in the theme is how it handles colors. When you set your primary and accent colors, the theme will not allow the site to display button text, image overlays, backgrounds, and other elements that have contrast ratios that don’t meet minimum accessibility requirements. 

The theme is ideal and customizable enough that it can be used for all types of sites. All of the required accessibility features that a quality theme should have are built in, such as skip nav and aria tags.

Best practices for performance are followed too, and this theme is fast.

A screenshot of Google PageSpeed Insights showing a Desktop score of 100.
Is that a perfect 100 desktop Google PageSpeed score?

We’re also using this theme as the parent theme for all of our custom child theme development going forward, and encourage our customers that develop child themes internally to do the same. 

Download Flex from Github.

Calendar+ Events Plugin

Get Calendar+ On Github

The third tool released to the community today is a massive update to our Calendar+ plugin.

It turns out, creating accessible event calendars on a website is hard. We’ve kept at it and believe that we have the most accessible and user friendly WordPress calendar plugin on the web. Complete with features comparable to many premium plugins, but free to use.

See Calendar+ in action at Washington University in St. Louis (link opens in a new tab).

Plugin features include:

  • Month, week, day, and agenda views
  • Gutenberg block to easily display calendar content
  • Sidebar widgets
  • Import calendars from Google Calendar and ical feeds
  • One-click add events to Google, Outlook, and other calendars
  • Multi-day and recurring events
  • Event locations, tags, and categories
  • Style integration with our Flex theme

The improved accessible experience happens by the plugin adding a hidden link that is announced to screen reader users above the calendar content. This then provides an optimized calendar experience for those using screen readers.

Download Calendar+ from Github.

One More Thing?

When it comes to user education, we think we have the most comprehensive and complete guide to accessibility for WordPress.

This guide is continuously updated with advice and best practices – and over time has turned into a full course of what all WordPress users and developers need to know.

The absolute best way you could support CampusPress and our efforts to release these plugins and theme for free would be to share a link to our WordPress Accessibility Guide on your sites where appropriate.

Our focus on accessibility will continue and we look forward to seeing all of the sites created that now, with these tools in place, even more visitors will be able to successfully navigate.

Find Accessible Content, Flex Theme, and Calendar+ on the CampusPress Github (opens in a new tab).

Please get in touch or leave a comment below with any suggestions or feedback!

Introducing ‘Flex’, Our New School WordPress Theme

Introducing ‘Flex’, Our New School WordPress Theme

by Ronnie Burt

Last updated on May 6, 2020

We are thrilled to share CampusPress Flex – a brand new flexible theme designed for school, district, and department websites.

It’s never been easier and more affordable to have an accessible, fast, and easy-to-navigate website that you can take pride in.

Interested in trying it for free? Apply for the Free Pilot program here.

Let’s get into the details.

The New ‘CampusPress Flex’ Theme

Screenshot of an example of the theme in use.

This theme is powerful. As its name of ‘Flex’ describes, it’s ideal for all sorts of sites – schools, departments, districts, organizations, and more. We have 15 years of experience working with schools and WordPress. We used that experience to build one complete theme.

This theme is:

  • designed with accessibility first (more on this below)
  • complete with 100s of layout and customization possibilities
  • fast to load and looks great on all devices and screen sizes
  • a true “what you see is what you get” block editing experience
  • fully integrated with our plugins like calendars and forms
  • packed with features that are unique to schools, like emergency notifications
  • intended to improve and grow based on user feedback

When you first log in, you’ll see where to choose basic site layout options like colors, fonts, and logos.

A screenshot of the basic customizer options.
Easy to brand and customize!

It includes several options for menus and navigation–including the ‘mega menus’ that many schools love!

It has built-in Google Translate integration, animations, and reusable content blocks.

This theme is available now for all CampusPress customers. For existing networks that we host, a Super Admin will have to enable it for it to appear.

A New Single Site Hosting Service

Header Image: New Hosting Service - Single websites start at $750 per year.

We are the oldest managed WordPress hosting service, and we exclusively host WordPress Multisite networks. The networks we host span the globe and, when combined, host millions of sites for schools and universities.

For any site using our new theme, we now have a more affordable single-site hosting option which comes with everything needed to build and maintain an individual website.

We host these sites on the same enterprise cloud hosting cluster environment as our CampusPress networks. Sites have incredible performance, redundancy, and the ability to stand up to high traffic. Your website will be able to handle sudden traffic spikes for events like student registration, first days of school, and snow days. We serve millions and millions of page views per day with ease.

If you’ve managed a WordPress site, you know that maintaining plugin and core updates can be a full-time job. We take care of nightly backups (encrypted and stored offsite), security monitoring, audit logging, and updates.

Costs And A Free Pilot Period

Our new single-site hosting service is available and free to try. Universities and schools can pilot it today.

As an introductory offer, we won’t charge for new sites for the first FOUR months. You can build and launch a new site before paying!

You can try it commitment-free and with no obligation to continue. Should you decide not to host a site with us after July 1, we’ll archive and remove access at that time.

For those who take advantage of this free pilot period, ongoing costs will be $750 per site per year. This cost is 10 to 50 times less than full custom websites with other services. With this theme, you can achieve a very similar result.

Here’s how it works:

1. Complete this quick pilot application form – let us know if you have questions.

2. We’ll send you a short branding survey to ask for information about your site and design needs.

3. Our team will install the site, set up colors, logos, and layout based on your branding survey.

4. We’ll send you login details. You can continue collaborating with our team to polish the site and content.

5. We’ll send you a ‘final launch checklist’ and help you to go live with your existing domain when you’re ready. It’s completely on your schedule.

That’s it! Many sites can be complete and live in under a week!

Need More Than One Site?

Our new theme is also available on our WordPress Multisite Network hosting services. It’s ideal for district websites or universities that need more than one site. You can apply templates across many sites. ‘Content syndication’ allows you to share news and announcements across sites as well.

Multisite networks are also heavily used for blogs, ePortfolios, faculty websites, student organization sites, and student news.

Our Multisite Network services integrate with Single Sign On services such as Google, Active Directory, and Shibboleth. Many customers make the platform ‘self-service’ so that faculty, staff, and even students can create sites with just a few clicks as needed.

If you need more than one site, please get in touch for a quote. You can also learn more about these services for K-12 and HigherEd.

Accessibility Compliance

Schools have legal and ethical obligations to have accessible websites. All users, regardless of visual, hearing, mental, or physical disabilities, must be able to access your website.

We help make compliance automatic and effective with the following:

  • markup to help visitors using screen readers or keyboard navigation. This includes skip nav links, accessible menus, and proper labels for all elements.
  • color selector tools that won’t allow you to choose non-compliant color combinations. The tools enforce minimum color contrast levels.
  • designs for text links and buttons with the required contrast and identifiers for color-blind users.
  • reminders when adding images to include needed alt text.
  • an accessible sitemap link for screen readers.
  • integration with our Calendar plugin, which automatically includes output created specifically for screen readers.
  • integration with Siteimprove for ongoing reviews and monitoring.

Please see our Accessibility Statement for more information and contact us with any specific questions.

Getting Started

To begin building your next site, complete the Pilot Application Form below. We’ll take it from there!

Pilot Application Form

Why Is Sending Emails From WordPress So Hard?

Why Is Sending Emails From WordPress So Hard?

by Ronnie Burt

Last updated on April 29, 2020

We send and process millions of emails from WordPress each month. There are times when there may be 10s of thousands of emails in the send queue at once. These include emails like:

  • new site or user welcome emails
  • password reset requests
  • new comment notifications
  • subscription emails when new posts are published
  • moderation notifications for reviews
  • and notifications from contact forms. So many contact forms.

Y’all, it turns out, sending system emails from WordPress is hard.

For example, send a few too many email notifications when spammers fill out your contact form and your host or email service provider may shut your emails off.

Or no matter how careful you are, you may find that your important and valid systems emails are ending up in spam folders or not arriving at all.

The struggle is real, and recently for us, it got really real.

To our customers that have experienced the recent problems, thank you for bearing with us over the past month or two as we’ve worked through this. We know that a handful of you have noticed issues with some emails not getting through due to unexpected side effects of what we describe below. We are sorry for the troubles that this has caused and are continuing to work tirelessly to provide the best and most reliable email service possible.

We’d like to share the lessons learned from all of this here. For anyone running any WordPress site, jump to the bottom of this post for tips and tricks that you can immediately implement to ease your WordPress email sending pain.

Some Background

For over a decade, we’ve quietly and successfully managed email sending from our own private mail servers that we’ve configured and maintained. Sure, there have been bumps in the road when an IP would get blacklisted or the send queue would get stuck. This has worked (mostly) well forever until it didn’t. Our datacenter stopped allowing us to use the mail servers in the way that we had, giving us limited time to come up with a new plan.

The good news is that we do our best to have multiple irons in the fire with all that we do. Meaning that while 90% or so of our customers have been on our trusty mail servers, we also have customers that have been sending mail for several years with both AWS SES and Mailgun. We knew they worked. And we knew that both cost us more than the managed mail servers.

We immediately ruled out AWS SES (even though just about everything else we do we use AWS services for) because they have already burned us in the past. Support is slow at best when there are problems beyond our control and they will shut off email sending at the drop of a hat. We couldn’t risk it.

During what is already our busiest time of the year with the majority of our customers beginning new school years, we quickly went to work enabling mail sending via Mailgun to replace our old servers.

For the most part, this was seamless, required nothing of customers, and worked like a charm. But this is where the real challenging part of sending mass emails becomes so hard.

Bots and Spam

Some of our customers send more mail than others. And some seem to randomly send a higher percentage of emails due to spam too.

Not all ‘spam’ is really ‘spam’. In education, there’s a good amount of mobility where educators retire or change schools, so their email addresses are no longer valid and they bounce. Or, parent provided email addresses, especially when handwritten on those first-day-of-school packets we all get, can be much more frequent than ‘acceptable’ bounce rates allow.

We had one customer where a ton of emails was sent while the entire school was on vacation – almost all accounts sent back a ‘out of office’ auto-responder that was inaccurately picked up as a bounce, and sending for that domain was blocked. That’s what they get for going on vacation while we were working! 🙂

Some sites really do send a lot of actual spam. This is mostly from two sources:

1) Comment notifications – bots that leave spam comments and an email notification is sent to the blog/site owner with spammy links and content included in the body of the emails.

2) Contact form spam – same as above, bots are loving contact forms more and more.

The contact forms may also be quizzes, polls, surveys, etc – bot traffic doesn’t care.

Hit From Both Ends

Almost immediately on moving to Mailgun, with a handful of customers, we started being thrown roadblocks from two sides.

Mailgun monitors for bounce rates and spam and will automatically shut off sending for a domain if its artificial intelligence suspects abuse.

Customers, especially larger universities, also monitor for incoming email and will block our IPs or sending domains when they suspect abuse. Even when it is their own domains and sites sending the emails!

We completely understand and support what both Mailgun and our customers are doing – IP and domain reputation is something that is harder and harder to keep clean. And with phishing campaigns and attacks being more sophisticated than ever, we all need to be on guard.

Plus, please don’t get us started on the additional fronts impacting email delivery, with Internet Service Providers and email services like GMail with their own spam detection and filtering. When an email is sent, there are so many different touchpoints and places that it all could go wrong.

What We Are Doing

For starters, we’ve written and implemented our own mail verification service that checks the format of all email addresses and does its best to ensure that the email address exists before we send the email. This has greatly minimized bounce rates.

We are also working closely with customers to whitelist where we can and to minimize the potential for emails with spam content being sent.

This means that we’ve also had to minimize the use of our Subscribe By Email service that sends emails to a subscription list when new posts are published. We’ve had to implement a limit to subscribers and all new subscribers need to be double-opt-in, meaning, unfortunately, that teachers can’t simply upload a list of emails for students or parents. Those subscribers will need to opt-in before receiving notifications.

What We All Can Do

Anyone with a WordPress site will benefit from working through the following advice on keeping your email reputation clean and your sending of emails flowing.

Fight Bots and Spam – all contact forms and comments should have captcha protection for logged out traffic. Consider using Akismet and/or a service like Cloudflare too.

Check Comment Settings – if you don’t need comments, turn them off. Or, check Settings > Discussion in the WordPress admin and look for the option to turn comments off after a set number of days once a post is published.

Send Mail via SMTP – There are many plugins and services out there for sending mail via a valid SMTP account. For those on CampusPress, reach out to us to ask about options for using your own SMTP services so that mail can be sent from a valid school/university domain.

The ‘no-reply’ Address – a quick google search makes clear that most ‘experts’ think that using a email address is a bad idea – mostly for building trust and making it easy for those receiving an email to contact you back. However, there are valid technical reasons to use a no-reply address. In our case, we are almost always sending emails on behalf of domains that we don’t own or manage, so using a no-reply address tells spam-fighting tools to let our emails in the door. Some hosts and tools require the use of a no-reply address unless you configure SMTP as described above.

The ‘reply-to’ Address – many plugins and form tools allow you to set a different ‘reply-to’ address than the address that the email is sent ‘from’. If the ‘send from’ address has proper DKIM/SPF DNS records configured, this should be fine. But if you are finding emails ending up in spam, setting the ‘send from’ and the ‘reply to’ addresses to be the same, may help improve deliverability.

Use Specialized Email Tools – it is tempting to use WordPress plugins for sending newsletters or mass email subscriptions, but the truth is, WordPress is a web publishing platform – not an email service. Your experience will be better using tried and true services like MailChimp, Mailgun, etc.

Follow Anti-Spam Best Practices – If you are using WordPress to send emails of any kind to a list, or you are bulk subscribing email addresses somehow, make sure you have permission to send those emails to the recipients, and even better if you have them opt-in. Having an ‘unsubscribe’ link and your contact information in the footer not only helps you comply with laws and regulations, but it can also help keep the spam-fighting tools from falsely putting you in email jail.

Other Ideas – we haven’t gone this far, yet, but it may help to minimize the content that is sent in the actual email. For example, you can just send a simple one-line email when a form is filled out that lets you know that there is something new and a link to the full content. That way, spam links or content aren’t actually ever sent so they won’t be picked up by spam-fighting tools. Most contact form plugins make it easy to edit and configure the actual content of any email notifications. Sadly, this would make the email notifications way less informative or useful.

Moving On

We will do our best to ensure that it is smooth sailing from here on.

In the short term, we are actively working on a way to automatically add a captcha on all contact forms that we host for logged out traffic if the user hasn’t already added one. We’ve long done the same thing for comments for logged out users. We will roll this out carefully after going through our extensive testing process.

We will also work closely with Mailgun and any customers impacted by delivery problems.

It’d be nice if bots and spam were a thing of the past, but the reality is that it will probably continue to get worse before it gets better.

Introducing The Latest My Class Features

Introducing The Latest My Class Features

by Sue Waters

Last updated on April 29, 2020

We’re excited to announce the latest improvements to My Class!

My Class is our tool to help manage students, course blogs, moderation, and templates.

Here’s what’s new:

1) Student name in Class Blog List

2) More Control Over Students’ Dashboard

3) Default blog template

4) Attach to Class using Batch Create

5) Class and student blog reports

6) Batch Add or Remove From Class blog

7) Invite User Improvements

8) Super teacher role

1) Student name in Class Blog List

We added the display of the student name to the Student blog list to make it easier to find students blog. The student name is listed at the top of their blog information.

Student information

Back to top

2)  More Control Over Students’ Dashboard

We added student permissions in addition to student moderation and privacy options in My Class > Settings for greater control of what your students can do.

For example, if you unselect Switch themes it means your students can customize their theme but can’t change to a new theme.  Unselecting Add/Edit Posts and Add/Edit Pages locks down your student blogs preventing new content from being added.

Student permissions

Back to top

3)  Default Blog Template

You can now set a default blog template in My Class > Settings so that all student blogs created using My Class > Create Student blogs have the same appearance and customized content in posts and pages.  Follow our support documentation to set up your blog template.

To display a list of template blogs in My Class > Settings you need to set up blog template categories as follows:

1. Go to Blog Template > Template Categories in the network admin dashboard.

Template Category

2.  Add the template category name, category description and select if you want ‘Allow teachers to choose a template from this category as a default for new student blogs’ or use the template on your sign up page then click Add Category.

Create new template category

3.  When you create a new template blog in Blog Templates > Blog Templates you’ll see an option to assign a template to a template category.

Template category on a template blog

With the student template category selected a teacher now sees a default blog template they can select from in My Class > Settings and this template is applied to all student blogs when the blog is created using My Class > Create student blogs or Users > Invite Users.

Template category on a template blog
Back to top

4) Attach to Class blog Using Batch Create

You are now able to create and attach new student blogs to a class blog using Batch Create.  My Class must be set up on the class blog using My Class > Create Class before it can be used as a Class blog.

The final step in Batch Create if My Classes is network activated is an option to connect student blogs to a class blog.

You connect to the class blog as follows:

Add the class blog ID by searching using the blog path.  When you type in the blog path into the ‘search by blog path’ field it automatically searches for the blog URL.

Select Class blog

Refer to our support documentation for Batch Create for more information.

Back to top

5) Class and Student Blog Reports

You can now download a report that lists all your class blog URLs as follows:

1. Go to Dashboard > Scripts > Usage Reports in network admin.


2.  Select Option from Index additional data and add Is_class

Is Class

  • For networks that host over 10,000 sites, we recommend you index in 1-2 year date ranges and download a series of reports.

3.  Click Run Index to Generate Report.

4.  Once you’ve finished indexing you click to download the Options Usage list to obtain a list of the class blog.

Download Options Usage list

You run a new report to obtain a list of student blogs attached to the class blogs via My Class as follows:

1. Click on Clear Index.

2.  Select Option from Index additional data and add class_blog

Student blog

3.  Click Run Index to Generate Report.

4.  Once you’ve finished indexing you click to download the Options Usage list to obtain a list of the student blogs.

The student blog ID is listed in Column A under ID and the Class blog ID the student blog is attached to is listed in Column E under Data.

Student blog info

You can cross reference the Student blog data with the Class blog data to identify the class blog URL or search sites using the class blog ID.

Site search in network admin using blog ID 6 returns the following class blog URL.

Class blog info
Back to top

6) Batch Add or Remove from Class blog

You are now able to either batch add a list of existing student blogs to a class blog and bulk remove student blogs from a class blog using Batch Edits in network admin.

You add student blogs to a class blog as follows:

1. Go to Dashboard > Scripts > Batch Edits in network admin.


2.  Add the blognames, blog IDs or the blog URLs of the student blogs you want to attach to the class blog via My Class.

Add student blogs

3.  Select Attach blogs to class from Actions drop-down menu and add the class blog ID.

Attach blogs to class

4. Add the class blog ID by searching using the blog path.  When you type in the blog path into the ‘search by blog path’ field it automatically searches for the blog URL.

Search for class blog ID

  • My Class must be set up on the class blog using My Class > Create Class before it can be used as a Class blog.
  • If the student blogs are already attached to a class blog you need to first remove their blogs from that class blog before you can add their blogs to a new class blog.

Once it has found the blog URL click on URL to add the blog ID.

Confirm class blog

5.  Click Submit.

You remove student blogs from a class blog as follows:

1. Go to Dashboard > Scripts > Batch Edits in network admin.

2.  Add the blognames, blog IDs or the blog URLs of the student blogs you want to remove from a class blog.

Add blog URLs

3.  Select Attach blogs to class from Actions drop-down menu.

Remove from blog

4.  Click Submit.

Back to top

7) Invite Users Improvements

Student blogs are automatically attached to the class blog if either existing users or new users create their student blogs using Invite code.  Invite code is created in Users > Invite Users.  

You can also categorize blog templates to enable users to select from template blogs when a user creates their blog using Invite code as follows:

1. Go to Blog Template > Template Categories in the network admin dashboard.

Template Category

2.  Add the template category name, category description and select if you want ‘Allow teachers to choose a template from this category as a default for new student blogs’ or use the template on your sign up page then click Add Category.

Create new template category

3.  When you create a new template blog in Blog Templates > Blog Templates you’ll see an option to assign a template to a template category.

Template category on a template blog

4.  Go to Settings > Join Multisite

Sign up form

5.  Scroll down and select New blog templates.

Select New Blog Template

6.  Click Save.

7.  With the student template category selected the users now see options to select a blog template when they create a new site using Invite code (created in Users > Invite Users).

Back to top

8) Super teacher role

The super teacher role has been added to My Class for those situations where you have a large number of teachers that need to be able to view and manage multiple class blogs.  A super teacher is able to access all class and student blogs without being added as a user to each class blog.

You assign the super teacher role as follows:

1. Go to Settings > Classes in network admin.

My Class Settings

2. Add their user IDs separate by commas.

Super teacher role

3.  Click Save.

We’re Here To Help

We’re excited about the benefits of these new features for all of our customers and the faculty, staff, and students that use it daily. Our team is here to talk through any and all questions. Leave a comment to let us know other features you would like added or if you would like to schedule a webinar to learn more.

A New WordPress Editor Is Coming, Here Is Our Plan

A New WordPress Editor Is Coming, Here Is Our Plan

by Ronnie Burt
July 8, 2019

For the past two years, the WordPress community has been hard at work on re-thinking and re-designing the way we all create and edit content in WordPress posts and pages.

The code name for this project has been ‘Gutenberg’, and it will be released in the next major version of WordPress in as soon as a few days!

The best way to get a preview of the experience is visiting this page here.

Here at CampusPress, we’ve been actively testing the new editor for months, and we are excited about the new modern and flexible editor. However, it is a fairly big change, so we would like to share our plan for how we will roll this out. We also discuss some reasons why you may wish to delay this release at the end of this post below.

The Plan!

Once the latest WordPress 5.0 version is fully released, we will begin upgrading all test and development networks for those customers that have them. This will give those that use custom plugins and themes access to try them out with the new editor in advance. We will also finish off updated documentation during this time. If you would like access to a test network and don’t currently have one, just reach out and we’ll get that created for you.

Then, after significant quality assurance and testing, we will announce a planned upgrade during one of our regular Tuesday change windows. We are aiming for January 16th for this update, but given the holidays and depending on how testing goes, this date may be delayed further.

When we apply the update, we will upgrade your sites to the latest WordPress version, but force the ‘Classic Editor’ network-wide. You can then choose to allow users to have access to the new ‘Gutenberg’ block editor or turn it off completely. We will then work with you on a plan going forward.

Ideally, we would like all customers to be fully on the new editor by July 2019 in order to better ensure compatibility with future upgrades and updates to WordPress core, plugins, and themes.

We’re Here To Help

We expect that this will be a seamless and pain-free upgrade experience, and we are already doing a ton of testing to ensure that this is the case.

If you are using custom plugins or themes, especially with page builders or that interact extensively with the page and post editor, you will want to give special consideration to testing those before the release. We don’t expect any actual technical issues, but any concerns will be more around training, documentation, and getting all users familiar with the new editor.

We know that changes can sometimes be a challenge. We’re excited about what these changes will bring for WordPress and all of our customers and the faculty, staff, and students that use it daily. Our team is here to talk through any and all questions, and to ensure that we make this as smooth as possible.

HighEdWeb 2018 – Here We Come!

One of our favorite events of the year is just around the corner – HighEdWeb.

Developers, designers, marketers, and folks that work on the web at colleges and universities will be gathering in Sacramento, California from October 21-24.

We’re thrilled to be a sponsor again, and if you will be there, please stop by and say hello!

New! Dedicated and Private Clusters Now Available

Throughout 2017, we completed moving all of our customers over to a new infrastructure setup on Amazon Web Services. We’re pleased with the results – your WordPress sites are now more redundant and scalable than ever. We describe this new architecture in our Hosting and Security technical guide here.

But some of the schools and universities that we work with have been asking for more flexibility and freedom to customize their sites and how they are managed in various ways. And today, we’re excited to be able to offer new fully dedicated and private clusters in order to achieve just that!

What Is A Dedicated Cluster?

A fully built out private cloud just for you. It is made up of web and database servers, load balancers, and can be customized to meet your needs. Redundancy and the ability to auto-scale to handle any traffic spikes are baked right in.

Here are items that are frequently requested that a Dedicated Cluster will be able to help solve:

1. Performance improvements – we can fine-tune the settings around your specific traffic patterns and needs.

2. Set your own maintenance windows and updates – we can schedule maintenance and code updates at any time, not just during our normal current Tuesday morning windows. You’ll be able to run a different version of WordPress or individual plugins than the rest of our customers when needed (we’ll keep up with security patches, regardless).

3. More flexibility with plugins and themes – we’ll still do code reviews and provide the same feedback as before (keeping an eye out for performance and security), but we will be able to work around many issues that come up.

4. More direct file, database, and code access – we will work with you and your team on whatever access and permissions make the most sense based on your needs. For example, your theme developers could have the ability to push changes live and our team would then review after the fact when needed – particularly useful for smaller CSS changes and the like, and important for higher profile sites that sometimes require faster changes.

5. Customizable email addresses – we are able to route and send all email notifications from an email address of your choice.

6. Overal flexibility – In general, we will be better able to work with you to be as flexible as possible about anything that may come up. Ideal for integrations with 3rd party APIs or applications, the need for highly customized plugins, and more.

Pricing and Getting Started

If this sounds interesting, just get in touch!

Pricing for a dedicated cluster depends on the size of your WordPress install and traffic. We’re happy to provide quick quotes and discuss your unique needs. For the schools and universities that have more than one WordPress installation, they can all be placed on the same dedicated cluster.

Existing customers can be migrated over to a dedicated cluster easily. We’d do a test migration, share access with you, and then schedule the final move for a day and time that works best for you (nights and weekends are no problem!) – usually can be handled without any downtime at all.

And we aren’t planning to stop here, we have more plans and improvements for all customers into 2018 and beyond!


We’re currently running an extended free pilot campaign through the month of February. If you know of a friend or colleague that may find our services of use, we’d greatly appreciate you sending them our way! 🙂