Laura Gibbs

Blog Labels + Inoreader + Redirect Tool = Canvas Magic!

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Jun 12, 2017

So here's one more blog post for today... as you can tell, I'm really trying to front-load things for Thursday in case dental adventures (wisdom teeth! eeek!) get in the way of my CanvasLIVE, which is scheduled as follows:

Building a Library of Free Online Books 

This way, even if I can't talk straight, there will be blog posts for people to explore!


Earlier today I wrote about Diigo tags and also about blog labels (both great ways to organize and share content!), and what I want to add is that you can get label-specific RSS feeds from a blog. It works a bit differently at each blogging platform, and what I'm going to illustrate here is how it works at Blogger; you can Google details about other blog platforms to see what their label-specific RSS feeds are like.


Why does this matter? Because when you have a label-specific feed, you can have that specific label show up in your Canvas course... automatically!


So, here's an example of how label-specific content can be useful: as I add new Fables to my Aesop's Books blog, one of the labels I use is Fable Library. This label shows ONLY posts with actual fables; there are other kinds of posts appearing at the blog (posts about books, posts with images but no fable text). But by using this label you can be sure you are going to see a fable illustration with an accompanying story. Here's what the URL for the label looks like: 


To get the RSS feed for that label, it works like this:

Just put in your subdomain (I'm aesopsbooks as you can see there in the URL), and then add your label at the end, using the same syntax as in the URL for the label link.


So, I can paste that label-specific RSS feed into Inoreader, my feed reader, and I'll see all the newest posts (that's the "magazine" view; Inoreader offers various different views, each useful for its own purposes). This is showing ONLY the posts of actual fables at the blog, not other kinds of posts:


Inoreader screenshot


So, that's already very cool... but what's even better is this: Inoreader can reformat the RSS as HTML that will look great in a Canvas Page. I've written up a separate blog post about how to get blog RSS feeds to appear in Canvas, and with this example, I'm showing you how you can get label-specific blog RSS feeds to appear in Canvas... plus I'm going to try a new Redirect Tool trick which makes it even easier than the iframe approach.


Here's how it works:


1. Subscribe in Inoreader. First, I subscribe to that feed in Inoreader, and I save the feed in a folder (I could put more feeds in that folder if I wanted, but for this example, it's the only feed in the folder).


2. Export from Inoreader. Then I click on the Folder Settings to send the contents of the folder out as an HTML clip that I can then use in Canvas. I can choose whether to get magazine view or full post view, the number of posts, and other specifics. In the end, it gives me a link (and all the parameters I've chosen appear in the URL for that link). 


configure html


3. HTTPS. Next, I change the http in that link to be https. That is essential for making the link work in Canvas: you need HTTPS for the Redirect Tool to work (and also for iframes). So, Inoreader gives me:


I change that to:


4. Canvas Redirect Tool. For the last step, I go to my Course Settings in Canvas, choose the Apps tab, and then I add the Redirect Tool. I paste in the https address, name my page "AESOP" and include it in the course navigation:


redirect tool configuration


And that's all it takes: you can see my LIVE Aesop page here, which will update automatically from here on out whenever I add new fable posts to the blog. And when students see an image and/or story blurb that interests them, they click on the title, and it takes them to that fable post at the blog, where they can then learn and explore (as I explain here).


I'll be posting more fables before Thursday for sure, so you'll be able to see it updating automatically from the fables that appear there currently (Monday evening).


Canvas Course link: AESOP 


Aesop page screenshot


So, no complicated iframing; the Redirect Tool is perfect for this purpose. Thanks to Keegan Long-Wheeler for reminding me last week about the awesome power that is the Redirect Tool.


As for the awesome power of blog labels, RSS, and Inoreader, I need no reminding. :-)


Update: Magic! Before going to bed tonight, I added some fables with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, and now those show up automatically inside the Canvas page. 


canvas screenshot


Yes, I cannot help myself... it's another update: Wednesday evening working on Conde's illustrated Aesop, and the lovely pictures are popping up automatically in Canvas just as they are supposed to. :-)


Conde's illustrated Aesop