Sites@Duke: Creating subsites for groups of students

Subsites allow members of your site to easily create a new site of their own (customizing their site appearance, creating new pages and posts and controlling access to the site) while automatically connecting them to the main (parent) site.

Faculty can enable Subsites in their course sites to allow individual students or group/project teams to create and maintain their own sites, which are automatically connected to the main (parent) course site. Administrators of non-course sites can also use Subsites to set up individual sites for project teams.

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To enable subsites on your main (parent) site:

  1. In the Dashboard, go to the Subsites menu (under Tools).
  2. You will be prompted to set your Subsite Options. You may select to allow registered authors or Admins of this site to create subsites. (By default for academic sites, all students are authors of a course if the course was initiated through ToolKits.)  Choose “admin-only” if you want to  set up individual subsites yourself; choose “registered authors” to allow students to create sites on their own.
  3. Click Update Preferences.


To see the list of subsites in your site’s sidebar, go to the Widgets menu (under Appearance) and drag and drop the Duke Subsites widget to the sidebar.  Your main (parent) site sidebar will populate with a list of subsites once they are created.)


Once the subsite feature is enabled, members of your site will have the ability to create their own site that is linked to your main (parent) site. Only logged-in members of your site will see this option.

To create a Subsite

  1. In the Dashboard, go to the Subsites menu (under Tools).
  2. You will be prompted to set your Site Address and Site Title.
  3. Click Add Subsite.


NOTE: Your Subsite’s address (URL) will be added to the parent site’s URL. For example: for the parent site a subsite address of ‘mysubsite’ would become

For teams creating a subsite, it’s only necessary for one member of each team to follow these steps. By default, the person creating the subsite becomes the administrator of the new site (along with the admins of the main (parent) site).

By default, all of the users on the parent site will have access (including Duke Groups) will have access to the new subsite. Their level of access will be carried over from the main site. The subsites privacy setting is initially set to only administrators, but this can be changed (Go to Settings > Privacy).

Example: Using Subsites for team projects

A faculty member wants her students to break into teams of 5 and create Subsites for each team project. The faculty member goes to the Dashboard view for her course site and chooses Subsites from the Tools menu on the left. She then chooses to allow “registered authors” to create Subsites.

A representative leader from each team is chosen to create the Subsites for his/her team. Each team leader goes to the Dashboard view for the parent course site and selects Subsites from the Tools menu on the left. Under ‘Add a new Subsite,’ the team leader chooses to add a Site Address (ex: team1) and Site Title (ex: Team 1), then clicks ‘Add Subsite.’

At this point, a new Subsite is created for Team 1 (and the faculty member has also received an email notification). If the faculty member has enabled the Duke Subsites widget (see above), anyone who visits the parent site will now see that a new Subsite exists by looking at the Subsites list in the sidebar.

By default, new Subsites are only available to administrators – so only the faculty member and the leader for Team 1 can access and see the Subsite for Team 1. If Team 1 wants to work on their Team project privately – without other teams being able to access or view their project site – the leader for Team 1 should make his/her other Team 1 team members administrators in the Subsite as well (by clicking Users under the ‘Users’ menu and editing the role of the other Team 1 members).

After Team 1 has completed their project, they may want to make the site available to others. Team 1 members may choose to make the Subsite available to others in the class by changing their privacy settings (Settings>Privacy) from ‘visible only to Admins’ to ‘visible to only registered users’ – which would make the Subsite visible to all other students in the parent site. If Team 1 wants to make their project site available to the world, they can also choose to change the privacy level to make it “visible to everyone.”

How to turn off Subsites

You can stop the creation of additional subsites by going back to Tools>Subsites and clicking the “Disable new subsites from being created” under Preferences. Note: This does not remove existing subsites.



Article number: KB0025629

Valid to: March 18, 2025