Four WordPress Plugins

As I gear up to teach my first full undergraduate course, I’m revisiting my WordPress installations and test sites, and playing around with a few things. Since I’m digging around a little anyway, I wanted to get in some info about some of the plugins I’m using. Here’s the first round.

Drain Hole:

Great download management plugin.

Ability to create multiple “drain holes,” which will allow for cleaner management of course files (e.g. have one hole per course taught.)

Presented download links are clean, customizable, and informative. If students don’t want to download a .ppt file that’s over 100MB, they can decide that before starting the download. I use

[drain file 6 url] - [drain file 6 size]

to output

Clark.CV2009.pdf – 347.35 KB

Files can be uploaded via FTP into a folder that’s not web-accessible (i.e. one directory above the “/public_html” directory on the server). Drain hole directories can then be manually “scanned” via the Drain Hole administration areas, and any new files are integrated into that drain hole.

Confirm User Registration:

A plugin to restrict access to approved registrants. Turning on the “anyone can register” function from the general settings admin page allows just that. With this plugin, admins can filter the accounts that get approved, i.e. only students currently listed on the roster. This one’s a little older (not much going on, development wise), but seems to be holding up rather well.

Exclude Pages:

This plugin simply removes page listings from certain database tables so that they do not appear in any navigation (or some other) lists. The pages are still accessible as normal, but they are just not listed along with all of the other pages wherever WordPress creates a list of pages.

I use this for pages related to student grades, course polls, etc., and then add specific links to those pages only in posts or pages directly related to that content.

KB Gradebook:

Registered users of the site (students) can see their own grades (and not other students’)on a custom page containing [KB Gradebook]. Updating grades is as easy as uploading a .csv file and telling the plugin where to find the student e-mail information. One neat beta feature of the plugin is that it can use current registered users of the site as students on the .csv gradesheet (as long as user e-mail and student e-mails match up). Make sure line 42 of the plugin’s .php file says define('KBGV_WPUSERS', true );.

And while you’re in the .php file, may as well change the location of the admin panel link from “posts” to “tools.” Do this by changing line 904 to

add_submenu_page('tools.php', __('Gradebook', 'kbgb'), __('KB Gradebook', 'kbgb'), 10, 'kb-gradebook.php', 'kbgv_admin_page');

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