One of the most common questions we receive through our WP Courseware help desk is “What types of content can I place within my course units?”
WP Courseware course units are actually just a custom post type and for the most part function like other posts and pages you’ve created before. There are a few exceptions, however when it comes to content you can include anything you’d normally place within your other WordPress content.
But…there’s a problem!
Our users publish training courses across a large number of topics. And some training topics require more than just words on a page when it comes to student instruction.
While there are countless media player plugins to help you display video or audio files within your course units, we very often hear from customers who have different content to display. A course designer may already have valuable content in the form of a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF. Some instructors, such as those involved in teaching trading strategies or financial subjects may want to embed spreadsheets.
So today we’d like to share a nifty little third-party plugin with you which will allow you to easily embed documents within your WP Courseware course units!
So what is it?
The free Google Doc Embedder plugin is available within the WordPress plugin repository and allows you to directly embed presentation, PDF, spreadsheet, or text documents into your WordPress posts or pages (including WP Courseware course units). Don’t worry…you don’t need to host your documents with Google Docs or Google Drive to utilize this great tool!
One of the reasons we really like this solution is that it supports custom post types right out of the box. That means you can use a simple shortcode within your course units to have documents displayed for your students.
You can download the current version of the Google Doc Embedder plugin here.
How does it work?
1. Obviously the first thing you’ll need to do is install and activate the plugin.
2. Once installed, you’ll have a new option under your WordPress “Settings” menu labeled “GDE Settings”. We’ll get into a few of these shortly, but for the most part the plugin is ready to go right out of the box.
3. The next step is to add your document file to your WordPress media library. Google Doc Embedder uses a shortcode to place media files, so they can be stored anywhere as long as you have the link to the file itself. But for this example, we’re just going to host our files in our WordPress Media Library.
As you can see in the screenshot below, we’ve loaded a PowerPoint file to our WordPress uploads folder.
4. Now that we have our presentation uploaded to WordPress, we just need to grab the file URL from the WordPress media library and drop it into a course unit using the Google Doc Embedder shortcode.
As you can see below, the presentation then displays nicely within our WP Courseware course unit and we can scroll through each of the slides or zoom in on them.
And we can also include other document types, such as the spreadsheet shown in the following image.
A couple of notes on settings and configuration…
If you enter the Google Doc Embedder settings panel, one of the things you’ll see under the “General” tab is the option to alter the default width and height. In the case of the presentation file above, we reduced the default height from 500 pixels to 450 pixels to accommodate the dimensions at which the file was exported. Feel free to experiment with this for your content.
As you’ll also see in the “General” settings tab, there is an option to choose if download links to the file should be available to “All Users”, “Logged-In Users”, or “None”. Since WP Courseware course units are only going to be available to logged in users, if you want a download link available either of the first two options will work. But you can also choose to remove the download link entirely by selecting “None”.
The “Profiles” tab within the Good Doc Embedder settings will allow you to use the existing shortcode parameters (using a profile ID) located there to do a couple of neat things. You can edit or create new profiles for the skin/theme of the viewer and you can also choose to use a security parameter which will hide the document location and prevent downloading.
We hope this will prove to be a useful tool for many of our WP Courseware customers who want to embed documents, presentations, and PDFs into course units! Are there other helpful tools or plugins you use to embed course content? Share them with us below!