FAQs for Instructors

Reasons to Use ViaNolaVie in the Classroom and Community

Why would I have students write for ViaNolaVie? How does the site benefit them or the public at large?
Schools, colleges, and universities are hives for local knowledge, yet most of this knowledge never makes it back to the communities they write about. ViaNolaVie gives students the opportunity to be public intellectuals in sharing their voices, knowledge, and work in the community with that community. The comments and interactivity of the site allows community members to engage with their contributions.
Students also benefit in having their work collected in an online portfolio for future professional applications. Through assignments tailored for public consumption, their instructors can teach important life skills in terms of self-presentation and voice, written and mediated representations, research and journalistic skills, community-oriented ethics, information sciences, and intellectual property and copyright.

What kinds of content are appropriate to the site?
ViaNolaVie focuses on all topics that are relevant to contemporary life and culture in New Orleans. As an online magazine, it spotlights coverage of the arts and humanities, culture and community, as well as social analysis and creative expressions. The categories encompass those found in other online cultural journalism websites.

This endeavor supports and complements other digital humanities projects in the region, including: NewOrleansHistorical (for place-based histories), Music Rising (for expert-based knowledge and resources about the musical cultures of the Gulf South), Crescent City Connections (for long-form interviews), Freedom on the Move (to crowdsource knowledge about slavery) and KnowLouisiana (for expert-sourced encyclopedia entries about the state).

What about privacy concerns?
Instructors need to determine what kinds of information is appropriate for public posting. Instructors may choose not to publish student work deemed inappropriate for reasons of privacy, plagiarism, or simply poor quality. Students as authors may choose at any time to take down the work they have posted to the site. Community members may also ask that a post is taken down, making it important to think about the ways instructors teach community-engagement ethics and request consent.

I published everything but where is our class content?
Placement on the homepage and the category pages is determined by the NolaVie editorial board to be a balanced mix of the best contributions from the various community and educational partners. All stories live in the archives where they are suggested contents for users based on their interests and are searchable by title, topic, and author. Instructors have a voice in this selection by sending the editors work they feel is worthy of this recognition.

Can students continue to write for ViaNolaVie?
YES, we want students to keep writing for the site. Authors can use their profile pages to collect their stories in a single portfolio for their resumes. They can apply to be authors with the NolaVie editors or just be subscribers. To do the latter, follow the directions in the answer to the question: How do I clean out my course roster at the end of the semester?

How do I…?

How do I create a class to register my students?
Once you have a Teacher Role in ViaNolaVie, you can create a class in the back-end dashboard with the following steps:

  1. Go to http://www.vianolavie.org/create-class-url/
  2. Add your course name and click Create URL.
  3. Cut and paste the unique URL for the course and email to your students or paste in your syllabus.
  4. Students then self-enroll via the URL.
  5. Students with existing ViaNolaVie accounts can add new courses by logging in and editing their profile pages: https://www.vianolavie.org/wp-admin/profile.php
  6. If you ever lose the URL, you may repeat these steps and you will get the same URL as before.

How do I find my students’ posts on the back-end in order to authorize or edit them?
Go to All Posts and filter the stories by your class name in the top menu bar.

How do I know where the students’ images are from? Are legal?
In general, ViaNolaVie encourages original art, audio, video. Students can share their own YouTube and Soundcloud embeds as well as their photos. Beyond that, the Media Library has a checklist for students to state what they know about the ownership of an image. We highly recommend integrating this tool into your class to teach them about such valuable lessons as Public Domain, Permissions, Creative Commons, and Fair Use. Be sure to check images and embeds before publishing posts.

How can I enable my students to be ethical and seek permission for the public voices and representations they use?
As instructors, you may already have a consent form you use as part of your class. You are more than welcome to continue to use those, though we recommend scanning and holding copies in some secure location.
Another option is to use our ViaNolaVie qualtrics application that allows students to get consent for a variety of online media and ViaNolaVie via their phones, tablets, or laptop. You may cut and paste the following link into your syllabus for this purpose.

What‘s the best way to edit students’ submissions in ViaNolaVie?
One of the advantages to having students write and edit in WordPress is you cut out the added step of moving from Word to a website with images. We recommend downloading the application Hypothesis, which allows you to mark up the Preview Pages of your students’ drafts. They can then edit and resubmit to you.

When annotating a page from your WordPress backend, you’ll want to use the Permalink, or the link under the post title (not the Preview link). This is a best practice because the Preview button brings you to a view of the page which doesn’t live at a stable URL. 

This means your workflow will be:
1. Open the page/post in WordPress
2. Click on the Permalink (under the page/post title) to open in a new tab
3. In your new tab, activate the Hypothesis extension
4. Open the sidebar; make sure you’re logged in and switched to the appropriate group
5. Highlight text on the page to start annotating!

How do I flag the best student work for the homepage and category pages?
Any and all work that you deem exemplary for the home page, can be saved as “Ready for Editor,” to be considered for publication by the ViaNolaVie editors. They evaluate and queue stories to be published with other community-based and partner stories on the homepage and category pages.

How do I clean out my course roster at the end of the semester?
You probably want to stop students going through you to post stories after the class is over and if you need to upload new students each semester, it’s best to switch your students after the class is over into subscribers. To do this follow the steps:

  1. Go to Users on the left dashboard menu and select All Users.
  2. Filter in the top bar by your class name.
  3. Select all by clicking the left box above user names.
  4. Select the top bar menu Change Role To: Subscriber. Hit Enter.
  5. Look to see all users are no longer in your course.

Standard Operating Protocols

Can students post to the website before I authorize their work?
NO, instructors have the power to publish student work for public viewing. If students register separately as contributors, they may make comments on stories like any other member of the general public. Contributors are subject to losing privileges as commenters and authors if they violate our terms of use.

Is there a preferred citation style for submissions?
As the instructor, you can choose whatever fits your assignment. In general, online articles read best with minimal notation in parentheses or notes but with sources left in text. For example:

In WordPress, students can link online sources easily. Works Cited or For Further Reading are also good options.

What are the guidelines for selecting the categories and tags?
In general, the categories are standardized to fit all content on the site by the same rules. There are five content/topic areas and several subcategories. Descriptions of the five categories are listed on the homepage for each category. Please do not create new ones but choose the most accurate subcategory under the proper category. Not every story will have a subcategory. It is important not to click everything that appears okay but to delimit the best 1-3 options per story based on its main objective. For example:

Are there any online tutorials I can link to for both myself and my students in learning the basics for creating a WordPress post? How do I find out the different options I have for creating dynamic posts?
There are many depending on what you want students to do and learn. Some sites we recommend are: for making a post: https://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_Posts, using Hypothesis in the classroom https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmuJEyeapl2eznT3UHbLxuaQJaulzKHVZ