McGraw Commons

The McGraw Commons is an online publishing platform for teaching and learning. Powered by WordPress, the McGraw Commons provides quick and easy website creation and a wide array of tools that encourage participation, active learning, and creative expression. Course blogs support tagging, commenting, and the inclusion of images, audio, video, and maps in posts.

Sites created through the McGraw’s WordPress service can be cumulative, with work remaining from past course offerings (with student permission) or used as a one-off exercise for a single course. As an alternative to a site on the learning management system, a course blog can provide a focal point for student project work and encourage a sense of learning community within a course.

In addition to the built-in features of WordPress, the McGraw Center has selected or built various add-on ‘plugins’ to support the many ways of teaching and learning at Princeton University.

Embed audio and video

By default, WordPress allows you to upload videos or to easily embed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, and many other websites.  Functionality has been added to allows for the embedding of video from Princeton’s own Kaltura media server and  Video-On-Demand service. Audio files can be uploaded directly into blog posts. Blogs can showcase student-produced podcasts or audio documentaries.

Embed images from the Art Museum

Enabling the PUAM plugin add the ability to search and import images from the Princeton Art Museum’s digital collection and to embed those images in your blog posts.

Annotate webpages or PDFs

With the additional hypothesis plug-in, students can highlight text on a page or PDF file and discuss the reading in  threaded marginal comments.

Video annotation

The video commenter plug-in, developed here at the McGraw center, allows users to post comments at specific times in a video. Whenever a student adds a comment to the page, the current position of the video playback is stored, allowing one resume playback from that point.

Image galleries

Images added to a McGrawCommons blog can be organized and presented in a tiled image gallery or as an in-page slideshow.

Image Tagging

Student tagging of images can make an interesting class assignment and can prompt discussion of the materials. An image tagging plugin on McGraw Commons allows students to add single-word ‘tags’ to pictures and generates a ‘tag cloud’ that creates a visualization of the popularity of individual tags.

Create zoomable images

Using a plugin developed at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, large images can be presented in a ‘zoomable’ window allowing users to focus in on details in the image.


Transcription is a custom theme developed for the McGraw Commons course website platform was created specifically to support course-based translation and transcription activities.


Text authored on McGraw Commons can also include footnotes. Footnotes can contain links, images, audio clips, and video.

Create an annotation network

Using our annotator plugin, students can annotate posts with other posts, creating a network of linked annotations.  The annotations can then be exported as a spreadsheet or as a network graph for further analysis.

WP Geo

A plugin for WordPress included on the McGrawCommons course website platform, WPGeo adds Google Maps to blog posts, allowing you to associate geographic locations with blog posts by dragging and dropping a marker on a map. A master map of all the locations can then be generated and visitors to the site can explore students writings based on location


After enabling the WP Mathjax plugin, you can include LaTeX markup in your posts.


Posted by April 30, 2020