Distance Education

Organizing student posts

Organizing student posts on an OpenLab Course Site can happen in a variety of ways. Student posts published to the Site’s blog page (usually the home page) are listed in reverse chronological order. If students are creating a lot of posts, the blog can quickly become unwieldy. Student work can be organized using categories and tags.


We recommend using categories to organize student work. These categories can represent assignments (e.g. “Assignment #1”) or certain course modules or themes (e.g “Module 1”). The purpose of categories is to create category archives, which collate all posts that have been given a specific category and display them in reverse chronological order on the screen. Category archives can be inserted into the main menu so that they are easily accessible to visitors of the site–including to you, when you grade assignments!

For example, Jason Ellis uses categories to organize student work in Technical Writing. Students post their work and choose the appropriate category when publishing their post. Jason adds submenu items under the “Student Work” menu option to collect student assignments together.

On the OpenLab, we recommend that instructors use the Require Category plugin.  This plugin prompts authors to select a category before publishing their post and is a great way to ensure that students use the categories the instructor has created, thus posting their work to the correct place.

You might also enable the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin if you want to organize student posts in a menu item category archive (e.g. Student Posts > Assignment 1) and keep your homepage or blog page for your class announcements.


You can also use tags in the same way that you use categories. The only difference between the two is that students can create new tags for their posts. This can be useful by having students assign thematic tags to their posts so that readers can see at a glance what the post is about. It’s useful to think of the difference between categories and tags by thinking of categories as more of a top-down way of organizing student work and tags as a bottom-up method.

You will need to make sure you provide clear instructions to your students on how to use categories and tags when they post their work. For example:

More information: