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Hi everybody! I'm writing up this blog post here in Canvas (the Community is now where I blog most often in fact!) in order to present a series of possible topics/tools to cover in the CSU-CIG meet-up on January 31. The title I had proposed is Re-Use, Re-Purpose, Re-Think: Exploring the Open Internet in Canvas ... which means there is a LOT we could talk about, given the vastness of the open Internet, and the many ways in which Canvas is in turn open to the Internet.


What I thought I would do here is list and link to Canvas Course Pages about bringing the open Internet into Canvas. I'll explain more of my philosophy and goals when we meet up later this month (I'm all about OPEN: open content, open pedagogy, open-ended assignments)... but for now suffice to say: I do no content development of any kind in Canvas, although I am thrilled by the ways that the content development tools that I use (and that my students use) can integrate with Canvas really nicely.


Here are some examples of what I mean, and please feel free to use the comments section here to let me know what grabs your interest and what you would most like to learn about during the meet-up:


MY COURSES. I keep my courses open, so you can see what I am doing this semester: and

Home / Daily News: I use a blog for the homepage, with a new blog post each day.
Blogs: Myth - Blogs: India. This is a live stream of the blog posts that my students are writing; you see a preview thumbnail and the first few sentences of each post — click on the title to go to the actual blog post.
Syllabus: Myth - Syllabus: India. To make the syllabus page dynamic and more fun, I use an image randomizer with images related to the class content (images and script hosted outside of Canvas).
Mindset: This is an embedded Padlet (embedded with Redirect Tool) which contains snippets of my students' growth mindset blog posts (right now, those are mostly from last semester's students).
Flipgrid: This is a new experiment this semester! I have embedded (using iframe) one of our Flipgrid topics; the students have not started posting here yet, but I am excited to see how it goes.
Suggestions: This is a Google Form (embedded with Redirect Tool) where students can leave anonymous suggestions.


student blog posts embedded in Canvas


Canvas Widget Warehouse: This is a Canvas site which features all the different javascript widgets I have made for my own use and which I have prepared for others to use with a simple copy-and-paste. That's because I am hosting the javascripts in my own webspace, a Reclaim Hosting / Domain of One's Own space as part of a great DoOO project at my school. I would be thrilled to talk about that if any one is interested. Distributed content is powerful. Any of these widgets are available for others to use, and I've also made the "raw table" available also so you can just snag the content, add your own, and remix your own javascript using (a free tool built by one of my former students, I am proud to say). Here are just a few of the widgets you will find here:
Growth Mindset Cats - Latin LOLCats
Proverbs of the World - Aesop's Fables

Reading Inspiration Writing Inspiration - Writing Humor
Freebookapalooza (free full-text books online related to mythology and folklore)
... and more


screenshot of Freebookapalooza widget in Canvas


Twitter4Canvas. I am a huge (HUGE) fan of Twitter for collecting and sharing class content, and I built a set of copy-and-paste Twitter widgets so that even people who do not use Twitter can put some Twitter in their Canvas... but putting Twitter in Canvas is not hard at all, and I even have a "Twitter Widget in Under Five Minutes" step by step post at my blog.

For examples of Twitter in Canvas, here are some of the widgets you will find here with a focus on great Twitter content at my school:
OU Daily (our student newspaper)

OU History of Science Collections - OU History department
OU Libraries - OU Writing Center
... does your school have some Twitterati? You can bring that content into your Canvas course.


OU Writing Center Twitter embedded in Canvas


PAINT Canvas. This is material I prepared for a workshop at my school one year ago featuring some other kinds of Internet content in Canvas:
Diigo (live stream of bookmarks for a specific tag, including thumbnail previews)
Flickr Slideshows (slideshows are album-based) - Pinterest
LibriVox (free audio for public domain books) - NPR audio stories - Soundcloud
YouTube Playlists


screenshot of embedded playlists


Growth MindsetLearning by H.E.A.R.T.StoryLab. These are Canvas versions of content that I actually share with my students via blogs; I use the same dynamic content techniques in Canvas that I do at the blogs. So if you explore here you will see examples of blog RSS, Diigo RSS, Padlet, Twitter, etc. being used for the dynamic content.


screenshot of embedded Padlet

I participated in a Canvas-Zoom session about blogging with Michelle Pacansky-Brock and the folks from CCC-ONE ... it was a kind of preliminary to the Reflective Writing Club which kicks off on January 26. More about that  #CCCWrite experience here: 

And also check out the CCC-ONE Canvas portal; I think it is so great how they are making these resources available to all, not just to California community colleges: 


One participant asked in the session asked: is there a blogging tool in Canvas?


The simple is answer is no... which I personally think is a good thing. I would far rather have my students learn about a real blogging tool that they can then take and use for their own purposes. What I want to do in this post is explain how Canvas lets you bring your students' blog content into your Canvas course area in whatever way best suits your educational needs.


My two methods at the moment:


1. Live stream. I've documented my student blog network in a series of posts here; I use Inoreader to combine all the RSS feeds and then display them in Canvas (and elsewhere). My main goal in bringing my students' blog posts into Canvas is to give them a "live stream," something that lets them see what's going on at any given moment (and they can also page back through the stream also). One of the commenting options they can choose each week is to "jump in the stream" and leave comments on whatever blog posts happen to grab their attention. The way the stream works is that they can see a thumbnail image, the opening sentences of the post, and then a clickable title which takes them to exactly that post in the student's blog where they can leave a comment. You can see the live stream for my classes with these links:
Myth class blog stream
India class blog stream


2. Curated Padlet. Another way that I bring student blog posts into the Canvas area is by means of a curated Padlet where I repost snippets of growth mindset posts from the students' blogs:

Padlet in Canvas

These are then prompts for them to use in writing their own growth mindset posts; here's how that challenge works:

Learn from Other Students
That one is a good example of how things are interconnected: students choose to write about growth mindset, I use those posts as prompts for more posts... and I also encourage students to think about whether they want to create a Padlet of their own (that's something new this semester; I will report back on how that goes).


Other methods: Just based on what I have learned about Canvas from hanging out here at the Community, I know there are other ways you could integrate your students' own blogs with Canvas:


3. Page: Blog Directory. You could create a Page in Canvas with links to your students blogs. You could also set up a form in Canvas for students to share their blog addresses with you as they get started; having the addresses in a Google spreadsheet will make the process of setting up that directory much easier.
* I do this in my class wiki instead of inside Canvas; you can see how that works here:
Class Directory


4. Page: Randomizer. You could create a Page in Canvas which displays links to student blogs at random. I use the blog randomizer for how students do comments each week, and I build my randomizers with, a free tool built by one of my former students! I don't have the randomizers up and running for Spring yet (that will happen next week), but I created a sample Canvas Page for how that can work:
Sample Blog Randomizer: CanvasLIVE Playground 


5. Redirect Tool. If you are using a group blog (which is definitely a blogging option; I prefer for students to have their own blogs, but I know some people use a group blog approach), you could use the Redirect Tool to make your group blog part of your Canvas course. I'm not actually doing this with a blog, but the Redirect Tool is what is bringing this Padlet into my Canvas space (and that padlet is a curated collection of snippets from student blog posts):

Padlet in Canvas

You can also use iframe to embed the blog in a Page (this allows you to provide some context that the Redirect Tool does not, but it also has some design drawbacks, esp. in terms of scrolling). For an example of a blog embedded in Canvas, check out my course homepage; that is an embedded blog:


Those are just the ideas that come to mind; I actually prefer to keep most of the course content OUTSIDE Canvas, but maybe others who use blogs in their classes can comment more about the options they have come up with for bringing the class blogs into the Canvas space. I'm very happy with the two methods I am currently using, and I am sure there are lots more possibilities out there. :-)



Investigate the open.

(make your own cheezburger)


cat pokes head out through hole: investigate the open!

At the Community this week, I saw a really interesting discussion going on about... discussions! Here it is:

Soapbox Discussions 


I chimed in about blogs as an alternative to discussion boards, and I wanted to say something about that now since I have my students' blog network up and running. Using a blog network allows for all kinds of interaction, but it is very different from discussion board interaction, so I wanted to explain something about the difference from my perspective as the instructor, and why I far prefer blogs to discussion boards. And for general blogging propaganda, I will share the same image from Langwitches that I shared at the soapbox discussions board:

Blogging for Learning: Mulling it Over | Silvia Tolisano- Langwitches Blog 


blogging for learning graphic



Discussion boards, like in Canvas, are built around topics that people reply to. You can interact with other people by replying to their replies, but the main organizing idea is the different topics under discussion.


With blogs, the organizing idea is the people themselves. Each person has a blog of their own, and they publish their course work at the blog. In my classes, for example, students usually publish around 3 posts per week, although they might choose to do more. The interaction comes from people visiting other people's blogs and leaving comments.

On the first day of class (that was Tuesday this week), all the students are getting their blogs up and running, and writing their first post, which is about a favorite place (or places). Here is how those assignments work:
Online Course Wiki / Design Your Course - Start Your Blog - Favorite Place


The students send me an email with their blog address: that allows me to subscribe to their blogs in Inoreader. After that, I see all their blog posts automatically; I don't need the email! I've written here about how I use Inoreader to run the blog network. 


Subscribing to the 90 blogs takes a few hours, but it's fun: I reply to the students' emails (that's the time-consuming part) to thank them for getting started and offering encouragement about blogging (which is new to the large majority of students, even now in 2018). That email is the first person-to-person contact that I have with the students, and I like that it is based on a moment of success. For many students, it is a actually a big success moment; they are proud of having made a blog of their own. As they should be!


Then, after the blog network is up and running, I start reading and replying to the favorite places posts; with 90 posts, even though the posts are very short, the comments take me a couple of days, but it is time well spent: I get to model for the students a style of commenting that is based on making connections — person to person connections, and also connections to the class content.


I really like the "favorite places" post as the first post to comment on. The goal is for students to learn how to find images on the Internet that are good for re-use, but it's also a way for me to start to learn something about them as a person, without it being as personal as an introduction (that comes later in the week — today, in fact, Thursday). The favorite places post might be just a sentence or two in a picture, but some people write long and elaborate posts. It's all good: either way works, as long as they learn how to create a post with an image and a link. Here's a stream of those posts:

Online Course Wiki / favorite places posts 


For me, it is so much fun finding connections between the course content and their favorite places. There is not always a connection I can make, but often there is... and I often learn something as a result myself. For example, there is a student in my Indian epics class today who was born in Manila in the Philippines, and she wrote about Manila as her favorite place. So, I know that the Ramayana is famous throughout many Asian and South Asian countries... but I did not know about the Philippines... so I Googled it, and I was amazed to find out that there is a complete Ramayana known for hundreds of years in the Philippines, and there is even an article about it at Wikipedia: Maharadia Lawana. That was a big wow moment for me, and it is also something that could turn into a really exciting project for the student to learn about too. Of course, she may go in totally different direction with her project... but just selfishly, I am really hoping she will want to learn more about the Ramayana tradition in the Philippines and share that with the whole class.


That's just one example of course... and the way it happened was through the very one-on-one interaction between someone with a passion for the Philippines (my student) and someone with a passion for the international Ramayana (me). Multiply that by 90, and you can guess that I have had a very stimulating week so far!


Tomorrow, I start responding to the Introductions. Those are longer posts, and there are always lots of connections to make there... I will be replying to all of those over the course of next week. Then, when we reach Week 3 of the semester, I will have the students' project brainstorming assignments coming in, so I will be shifting my interactions to the projects, while the students will have already taken over our blogosphere and be doing most of the commenting there, with just occasional comments from me.


This system works so well for me, and it has for years. I abandoned discussion boards for blogs over 10 years ago; at first I used Bloglines, then Ning, and now I just let the students choose their own blogging platform. The students' sense of pride and ownership about their blogs brings out really good work, and they are also so curious to read and explore each other's blogs because it is so much more like interacting with an actual person than a discussion board interaction, where you have the person's words, yes, and maybe a little avatar image... but you don't have a real sense of their personality overall, of their general participation in class, their other interests beyond the class, all of which come through in people's blogs.


If people are interested in learning more about blogging and trying it for themselves (before asking students to blog, it's good to have found your own voice as a blogger), you might want to give the Reflective Writing Club a try. This is something the CCC-One network is organizing, and it is not just for California community colleges... anyone can participate! I am really excited about it, since it is a chance for me to share my blogging enthusiasm with others. Here's more info about how it is set up, starting January 26: 


cccwrite screenshot

And you can see our live feed here in our Canvas space... when things get going on January 26, the feed should be really lively! Since I am going to take this post with CCCWrite (because I think it might be of interest to other bloggers in the Club), that means this post will show up automatically in the feed. Whoo-hoo!

Feed: Reflective Writing Club 


writing club feed screenshot

I wanted to write up a quick post about something that really helps me out during the first week of classes, "shopping" week with add/drop by students through the enrollment system, no instructor signatures. For me, that is a problem because I have students do an Orientation week during this first week, and when someone joins the class after the semester has started, I have to make sure to tell them right away how to get on track and to help them with any questions they have. 


In D2L, there was a page we could access that showed when students had added and dropped by date, but I never could find that in Canvas. If it does exist, let me know! But I don't think it does.


If our student enrollment system has that information buried in some report somewhere, it is not easy to find, and I need this to be quick and easy so I can check often during the first week and find out quickly if there is anyone new (I don't need to know who dropped; what's important is who enrolled to take their open seat).


So, here is my trick: at the start of the semester I reconcile my Canvas roster to the enrollment system (which is a good way to check to make sure the synch is working; every once in a while there is a problem). When I do that I wrote "roster" in the notes field for every student. Then, when a new student enrolls, presto, their notes field is BLANK, and I know right away they are newly enrolled.


Here's a screenshot: no new students here! But there is one seat open in one of my classes, and a new student will probably pop up today to fill it (there are waiting lists for all my classes)... I am glad I found this easy trick to see right away when I have a new student!

screenshot of roster column

Laura Gibbs

Flipgrid Experiment (1)

Posted by Laura Gibbs Jan 14, 2018

Things are going to be pretty wild next week, so I thought I should quickly summarize my Flipgrid experiment. I'm not sure when the students will give it a try (it's not part of the first week orientation)... but maybe some of the students who are working ahead will try it! I am very curious to see what they will think.


So, here are the things I did to get my Flipgrid experiment set up:


I created a class grid, and it currently has four topics:
* Hello (this is the one they start with)
* Makerspace (to share a video about something you've made)
* What's New (to share a video about something new you are doing: growth mindset!)
* Show and Tell (using the video to actually show and share something)


I'm using the same grid for both classes (which is great; I really like connecting the two classes), and it's embedded in our Canvas course:




I'm guessing that they will find it pretty easy to use Flipgrid, so I did not write up a lot of elaborate instructions, but I did write a step by step on how to embed a Flipgrid video in a blog post. I thought that was a really cool option since the students do all have blogs! So, here's an example of Flipgrid in a blog post:

Flipgrid: What's New 

And here are the instructions I wrote:

Online Course Wiki / Flipgrid Embedding


I also made my own videos for each of the topics. Then, I downloaded those videos, made a YouTube playlist, and added this to my set of random playlists that show up in the sidebar of the Announcements blog (more about how that works: The Power of Playlists PLUS the Power of Random!). I made this one appear less often than the others (since it has only four little videos in it), but it still might get some students' attention; it has a link to the Flipgrid Video section of the Tech Tips for students who are curious about the video.



Throughout the past couple of days while getting this set up (along with all kinds of other stuff for the new semester: gasp!), I was super-impressed with all the encouragement from the @Flipgrid support, and also for their prompt answers to my questions about downloading videos.


I also created a Canvas Community Flipgrid: give it a try! You can find the links for that here and see it embedded in a Canvas course where you can go in and press that big green button to record your own video!

A Flipgrid Playground for the Canvas Community 


embedded flipgrid in Canvas screenshot

So, I am finally getting around to actually USING Flipgrid in my classes this semester... but it's also totally new to me, and I'll be learning as I go. Based on all the incredibly positive reports I've heard from other teachers using Flipgrid, though, I decided that was okay: I'm not a Flipgrid expert, but even as a total beginner I can see that this could be a really fun and positive addition to my classes.


I got myself a paid account (even though the free account is great, and would offer me everything I need just for my classes), and with that paid account I can create multiple grids, so I made a grid for us to use here at the Canvas Community as a Flipgrid Playground. Please join in and make recordings: it is a playground for anybody here who wants to make use of it!


I'm kind of in a rush today so I am not going to write detailed instructions here now, but we can use the comments sections here to share ideas and experiences, and I'll write some future blog posts about how this experiment goes in my classes! So far I've found Flipgrid to be incredibly easy to set up and use, so I'm guessing all you need are the links below... when you see that big green button, just click and record, and then follow the prompts afterwards (don't worry: you can record again if you are not happy with the recording you got... or if your cat jumps on top of the keyboard in the middle of it ha ha).


Here's the Canvas Community Flipgrid Playground:


embedded flipgrid in Canvas screenshot


Get started at the Say Hello Topic:


embedded flipgrid topic in Canvas

I'm getting a little ahead of myself here by writing about Inoreader tags versus folders (this post is part of my InoreaderTutorials series), but I wanted to do this now in order to answer Michelle Pacansky-Brock's questions and to explain what I did in creating this Canvas Feed page for the Reflective Writing Canvas course space:


screenshot of Canvas CCCWrite Feed page

The live feed that you see displayed there contains items with the cccwritepost tag in my Inoreader files. In this post, I will explain how tags work in Inoreader, and how you can make good use of both tags and folders to share content in Canvas or anywhere that you can embed HTML clippings.


FEEDS IN FOLDERS. The main way to organize content in Inoreader is to put feeds (blog feeds, other RSS feeds, other social media feeds) into folders. So, for example, I created a folder for CCCWrite. At the moment, it has 19 live blog feeds, and I will be adding to that as more people join the class and share their blog addresses. And yes, you can put a feed in more than one folder; for example, I was already subscribed to Michael Berman's blog in my EdBlogs folder, and now I have included his blog in the CCCWrite folder also. Here's a screenshot of that folder view in my Inoreader:


screenshot of Inoreader folder


POSTS WITH TAGS. In addition to organizing content in folders, you can also organize content by tags, which are assigned post by post. These tags can be automatically assigned by Inoreader and you can also manually add/remove tags from any item. You can view content by tags in Inoreader; in a sense, they are like folders, but instead of containing feeds, they contain individual posts:


screenshot of Inoreader tag


Why use tags? Using tags gives you an added level of control that you do not have with folders. When you use folders, all the content from all the feeds in that folder will be labeled as being inside that folder; you can add and remove feeds in a folder, but you cannot manage individual posts. With tags, you are working on the post-by-post level, and you can add and remove the tag label for any post from any feed. You can also use Inoreader to assign tags automatically to all the posts in a feed or even all the posts in a folder, and then edit those tags as needed. I'll say more about Inoreader's amazing rule system in a future post. Rules are the reason why I use the "pro" version of Inoreader: unlimited rules! I need them!


CCCWrite Folder versus CCCWritePost Tag. Here's how the difference between folders and tags is important for the CCCWrite project. Some people are using blogs that are totally dedicated to CCCWrite, or else they are using tags within their own blog to designate the CCCWrite posts. Other people are using blogs that have lots of other posts in addition to the CCCWrite posts. By using a folder for all the blogs and then also a tag for the specifically CCCWrite posts, I can create two kinds of content streams, both of which are useful, each in their own way.


In the Canvas Feed page, I embedded the stream of just the CCCWrite posts, and you can also view that stream here:
CCCWrite Posts only: full view.

Those are the posts that people are going to be writing for the Reflective Writing experience. My guess is that many participants will be focusing on those posts exclusively as we read and comment on each other's writing.


But it is also possible that people will want to get to know each other beyond those posts, and visiting people's other blog posts (if they have other blog posts) will be a great way to make those connections. That's what we can use the full blog stream for, so I included links in the Canvas Feed page to the complete blog stream of the participants' blogs. You can see that stream here:

CCCWrite - ALL the Blog posts: full view.

That blog stream is actually already full of good stuff, while the CCCWrite post stream is very small right now; that's because the course does not actually start until January 26 — there are just some early birds (like me) who have begun using the #CCCWrite tag in their blogs.


So, I will have more to say about tags and folders and subscribing to feeds in later posts here, but I wanted to provide an explanation for what you see there on the Canvas Feed page for CCCWrite as things get going! 


And... one more thing:


Folders and Tags in my class network. For another example of how folders and tags work, 'll also quickly explain how the folders-and-tags distinction is helpful in managing a student blog network.

Folders: I have four folders for my blog networks.
Myth-Folklore student blogs
Indian Epics student blogs
Both classes: blogs
Both classes: comments (yes, there is a separate stream for all the blog comments, which is so helpful; I will say more about that in a post of its own later!)

I use those folder-based streams to create the class-based blog streams in Canvas — Myth and India — and the combined classes blog stream at the class directory. (Click and look: the blogs are up and running for Spring 2018!)


Tags: I have about 20 different tags for my classes, and they are assignment-specific. They are assigned automatically by Inoreader based on the keywords I ask the students to use; I can also adjust those if students don't use the keywords... but it's a big help to have almost all of the tags assigned automatically. Having assignment-specific tags lets me share with the students all the posts for a specific assignment, like here:
Wikipedia Trails
It's also a big help for me when I want to see how students are doing with a particular assignment.


... I'm really getting ahead of myself here, though, so I will backtrack and write something next time about subscribing to content in Inoreader. Still, I hope this post can be useful as a way to answer Michelle's questions and to provide some nitty-gritty detail for people who might be visiting the Feed page in our Canvas course in the coming week. :-)

I've decided to use this upcoming adventure with #CCCWrite to document some basics of using Inoreader! For more about this great new initiative from CCC@One here: Welcome to the Reflective Writing Club! ... and be sure to check out the CCC@One Canvas Support Portal too.


So, today I will start from the perspective of someone who is just starting from scratch with Inoreader and wants to explore! Today I'm going to start with a "Reading Blogs with Inoreader" post that shows what the reader experience looks like. Then, in the next post I'll explain the different ways you can add subscribe to blog feeds (and other online content! more about that later) in Inoreader. I'll use this tag: InoreaderTutorials.


Bundle to play with. And if you want to play along, I've created an Inoreader bundle of my own blog posts that you can access and view, switching among these different views just to see what it's like. Anybody at all, even without an Inoreader account, should be able to view and browse this blog bundle which is just my own blogs aggregated. I don't use Inoreader bundles a lot, but they might be something useful to you; I'm thinking a bundle will be a great way to share #CCCWrite blog posts later on for example (that will be a fun experiment to try!): Laura's blogs all in a bundle. Confession: Yes, I have a lot of blogs. I run all my class content in blogs. Some are actual content blogs and some are content-incubation blogs. Basically, I blog everything! Anyway, you can use that to play along with the different views below, clicking and exploring on your own! No log-in required; it's a totally open bundle viewer.


Inoreader screenshot



And now, on to the details:


And just what is Inoreader? Inoreader is a "feed reader" or an "RSS aggregator" (although it boldly goes where no feed reader have ever gone; more about that in future posts). Basically, it gives you an interface that looks a lot like an email inbox (but better) in order to let you read the contents of lots of blogs in a single space. The free Inoreader is very useful for reading, and you can remove the ads for $15/year. There are more advanced features for more advanced plans at $30/year and $50/year; I'll say more about why those are useful in future posts; yes, I use the $50/year plan because I absolutely love this software).


THE FIVE VIEWS. We don't have a lot of #CCCWrite posts yet, so for these screenshots I'm using my class blogs as an example (and maybe that will inspire people to use Inoreader to manage a class blog network). People use Inoreader in lots of different ways; of these 5 views, I really only use 2 of them, list and expanded, but I always use the magazine view when displaying blog streams in Canvas (more about that later). I've taken screenshots of all 5, though, so you can see how the same content can be viewed in different ways based on your needs/preferences:


List: This is the view I use the most. You will see it looks a lot like an email inbox. These are all read; unread items are bolded. I use the star to indicate blogs where I have left comments; you can use the star however you want. When I subscribe to the blogs, I rename them (the students give their blogs all kind of wild names, which is fine with me; for my purposes, though, I need to rename them here), with MF or IE indicating which class the student is in. When you click on one of the items, it opens up the post for reading (see below for screenshot of what it's like to read a post).


Inoreader screenshot


Expanded: I also use this view a lot. I will set it to display only UNREAD articles (you can toggle between all/unread) so that I can quickly skim all the new posts that have come in. This view gives you the whole thing: text, images, embedded media, etc. As you scroll through, it marks the posts as read.


Inoreader screenshot


Column: This view is really cool looking, kind of a combination of expanded view and magazine view (see below). But I don't ever use it. I'm guessing it could be very useful, though! 


Inoreader screenshot


Card: I actually don't like this view very much because it is too much image and not enough text for my tastes, but it could be useful, especially if the blogs you are following are image-oriented.


Inoreader screenshot


Magazine: I don't use this view for reading online, but it is the key to embedding the blog stream in lots of different contexts, like here in Canvas (click and see!), or here in my class directory. It gives a thumbnail image (sometimes kind of awkward, especially for portrait-style images as opposed to landscape...), plus the opening lines of the blog post.


Inoreader screenshot


READING IN INOREADER. When you click on an item in Inoreader, you see the full contents of the post right there in Inoreader. I do pretty much all my blog post reading in Inoreader and that way I don't have to adjust to all the different color schemes and fonts that my students might be using at their blogs — it's great that they customize their blogs, absolutely, but I am very near-sighted and need to control my online reading environment for my own needs.

Inoreader screenshot


Browse by folder, tag, or blog. I usually am browsing through the blogs by my classes which I put in folders, but I can also browse by specific assignments (I do that with tags; more on that later), or I can switch to a specific blog. So, for example, if I am reading this post by a particular student, I just click on her name and I can see all the posts in her blog. That can be very helpful if I want to put the post in context (like when I read their story for the week, I can quickly check and see what their reading notes were like as they prepared for the story):


Inoreader screenshot


Go to the blog itself. You can also click on the link to go out to the student's actual blog. I try to do this periodically because it is fun to see what the blogs look like!


Inoreader screenshot


You can also display the actual blog inside Inoreader. It's a little weird, but just click on the globe icon. That displays the actual blog-blog inside the Inoreader frame. It can be a bit disorienting, but it's a quick way to take a look at the actual blog with just a single click, not even leaving your browser tab. Just click on the globe icon again to return to the post view.


Inoreader screenshot


Then, own at the bottom of the post view is where the REAL Inoreader magic begins: tags! You can add tags manually or you can use rules to add tags automatically... and you can even use those tags to drive IFTTT behaviors if you are an IFTTT user. Plus lots more; I'll save discussion of these features for a future post:


Inoreader screenshot


Please ask questions! So, that's it for now, but please ask any Inoreader questions at all here in the comments and that will help me know what to talk about in future posts. I hope to have some good Inoreader tutorials here up and running before the first official #CCCWrite blog prompt coming our way on January 26! My next post will be about Subscribing to Blogs with Inoreader


And one final thought — as I see it, the genius of Inoreader is that it does what we SHOULD be able to do with all digital content: repurpose the content in all kinds of different ways for different purposes. My frustration with LMSes in general is that they do not think in terms of reusing and repurposing content in open-ended ways that the USER defines (and by users I mean both instructors AND students). If the Canvas engineers have an afternoon to sit down and play with Inoreader to see what they are doing with the simple power of RSS, they might get some great ideas for content reuse inside the Canvas ecosystem too. It is without doubt the most fun and powerful software I have used in my 20 years of live on the Internet. :-)


* * *


* NOTE: I was going to also document Feedly side by side, but when I sat down to try to use Feedly even just for reading blogs, I was so frustrated by its limitations that I decided not to even try to document it. But I know there are happy Feedly users out there, so maybe they will create a CCCWrite bundle for people who want to compare how the two systems work! If somebody wants to do that, I'll be glad to share the OPML file I'm using with the actual RSS addresses; it was fun for me to see how RSS works at Weebly blogs, for example. That was new to me!

Our #OUTechExpo is coming up, with several Canvas-related presentations, so of course I had to make a Twitter widget... and I created a simple copy-and-paste version that people can use, thanks to the magical https power that we have with OUCreate. Here's a step by step for what I did; to use the widget, you don't have to go through any of these steps — you can just copy and paste (see below).


MAKING THE WIDGET AT TWITTER: Twitter really wants you to create widgets!


Go to Twitter.
Click on Settings.
Click on Widgets.
Click on Create New: Search.
Paste in the hashtag.
Opt out of tailoring.
Create widget.
Copy code.


PUBLISHING THE CODE IN HTTPS WEBSPACE. The HTTPS is what makes Canvas happy, and at OU we have the great OUCreate option for our own HTTPS webspace.

Paste code into plain HTML file (I'll call it outechexpo.html).
Log on to OUCreate at
Go to File Manager.
Upload HTML file; I keep these widget files in a folder called
And there it is, with the HTTPS magic:




Now that I have the Twitter javascript safely published in an https file, I can put that in an iframe which will display anywhere in Canvas: in a Page, in a Discussion Board prompt, anywhere that you see the Canvas editor:

<iframe style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="" width="100%" height="850"></iframe>


And that's all you need to copy-and-paste into your Canvas Page.

You can see the widget in action here:
OUTechExpo: Twitter4Canvas 


screenshot of Twitter widget in Canvas


I can't attend the Expo since I don't live in Norman, but I will definitely be watching the Twitter stream. @HyperVisible aka Chris Gilliard is giving one of the keynotes!


Of course, you can make your own Twitter widgets... and if you have access to https webspace, you can make Canvas-friendly iframe Twitter widgets that are ready to copy-and-paste for anyone to use. :-)

Yesterday I wrote a post here about how I use Inoreader to display the live feed for my student blogs inside the Canvas class spaces:

Inoreader: Bringing the power of blogging to Canvas 


As I mentioned in that post, I am able to use Inoreader for the blog feed in Myth-Folklore and also for a combined feed that contains both sections of my Indian Epics class.


In this post, I want to explain how/why I use Inoreader to combine all two classes (total of three sections) into a single feed which I display with the Blog Directory. And I'm using the #CCCWrite tag to share these strategies for student blogging with people in the Reflective Writing Club. 


HOW: When I subscribe to my students' blogs, I put each blog in two folders: a folder for the class (Myth OR India) and a folder for both classes. By putting the same blog in different folders, I can make the blog contents available in different streams (a stream for each class OR a stream for both classes combined), and I can also perform different rules and filtering procedures on the separate folders (that's important to me, although it's probably not so much of general interest; if you're interested in that nitty-gritty detail, though, just ask: I am Inoreader's biggest fan!).


WHY: The reason I want to be able to combine the blogs from both classes into a single stream is so that my students can feel a sense of togetherness from one class to the other. Later in the semester, they will be visiting each other's projects, and right from the start of the semester, I want to make them aware of each other and to see the similarities/differences in the work they are doing in the different classes. The combined feed allows me to do that easily. It's like having my classes in two separate classrooms, but with a glass wall between them. Take a look and see what's going on!


And here's the WHERE: I decided to put the combined feed right on the same page with the blog directory! I can't believe I never thought of doing that sooner. Before, I just had a bunch of white space under the blog directory box. Now starting this semester, that space is alive, automatically updating with new posts whenever a student in either class adds something to their blog! I am really glad that when students come to find someone in the directory, they will also get a glimpse of "what's happening" in the classes at that very moment. :-)


Here's a screenshot of how it looks now, but it will look different as soon as there is a new post. And, of course, I'll be adding blogs to the directory. Classes don't start officially until next Tuesday, and I am excited that I already have 17 blogs to share. By the end of next week, there will be 90 of them... and the blog stream will REALLY be hopping! Link:

Online Course Wiki / class directory 


screenshot of blog directory

Let the (student) blogging begin! It's just Day One of Week Zero (classes don't start officially until next week)... but I opened the class early for any students who want to get a head start and there are indeed 18 students who logged on to the Canvas space to begin, and of those, 12 have created their blogs already.

Update: Make that 14. Two people started blogging while I wrote this post! :-)


Some just have a test post, but some have already started in on the actual posts for the Orientation Week. After the quiet holidays, it is so much fun to see the blog streams spring back into life.

* Although the Reflective Writing Blogging Club has not started yet, I'm going to use the #CCCWrite tag here since I thought my use of blogs with students might be of interest to the club members, and I want to document that experience from the start of the semester. :-)


Every semester, I teach two different classes. There is the Myth-Folklore class: take a look!

Blog Stream: MLLL-3043 Myth-Folklore 


screenshot of blog stream


And there is the Indian Epics class, for which there are two sections this semester. I keep the two sections separate in Canvas (given my gargantuan Gradebook, it's just easier to have them separate for faster loading), but I have the same blog stream appear in both sections since it really is the "same" class:
section 995: Blog Stream: MLLL-4993 Indian Epics 995 
section 996: Blog Stream: MLLL-4993 Indian Epics 996 


I really enjoy the moment when I get to write the students back after they give me their blog address to tell them that their posts are showing in the class stream now. What the students are writing is the most important part of these classes, and it is very cool being able to have their writing appear — as if by magic — instantly inside Canvas after they publish a post.


Last semester, I documented the process I follow for adding student blogs to my Inoreader network; all those posts are here: My Class Blog Network. Tons of detail.


Here's the short version:
I created a folder for each class in Inoreader (the feed reader that I use for my network).
I embedded the HTML view of that folder in a Canvas Page.
Each student sends me their blog address, one by one. (I'll have about 90 students total this semester.)
I subscribe to each blog in Inoreader.
I put the subscription feed into the folder for that class.
Presto: their blog contents become part of the blog stream shown in the Canvas Page. Automatically.


Total time required: less than an hour! Setting up the folder and the Pages in Canvas takes maybe 10 minutes, and then it takes just a few seconds to subscribe to each blog. I have really streamlined this procedure since I first started using Inoreader a couple of years ago.


I can also view the blog stream in Inoreader, view the stream student by student, automatically create streams for specific assignments, etc. etc. etc. Plus search across the blogs by course, for both courses. All kinds of goodness! For example, the first post students do is a "Favorite Places" post, which you can see as a stream of its own here (Inoreader automatically assigns a rule to the incoming posts about places, and then exports the posts that match the rule):
Online Course Wiki / favorite place posts 
(That stream is across both classes AND across semesters, so right now it shows both Spring posts and posts from last Fall.)


Anyway, today was a complete adrenaline rush from start to finish: first thing this morning, I emailed the students that the class was open, and the rest of the day I was getting emails from students and reading blog posts, commenting, and getting very excited for the semester to come!




And I have to say a big thank you to the people at Inoreader who have created a tool that takes the power of blogging ANYWHERE that iframe html is accepted. Like in Canvas! :-)


Inoreader logo

This is my first blog post here for 2018, and I've chosen a different banner image to use for this year: it is a brain neuron wallpaper image I found online! One of my goals for this year is to learn more about neurobiology, and I figured this image would help remind me to keep on learning. Plus, it is just cool and weird to look at.


I got back this morning from travels to find a lovely email from Michelle Pacansky-Brock about the upcoming ONE (Online Network of Educators) Reflective Writing Club. It starts officially January 26, but I am glad Michelle sent around this note encouraging people to start early if they want. For me, that is a huge help since this coming week is already the soft start for my classes (I call it "Week 0" for the students who are wanting to work ahead), and so it will be pretty busy, and then Week 1 will be bonkers as always. So having some time this morning to think about the Reflective Writing Club is very nice. 


I would encourage EVERYBODY to think about signing up for this. If you are new to blogging, it sounds like a perfect way to get started, and if you are an experienced blogger, it is a chance for you to share your experiences with people who are beginning their blog journey. You can find out more here at the website for the Reflective Writing Club: 


screenshot of reflective writing club website


I'm really torn about what to do for the "create a blog" step: on the one hand, I always have fun creating a new Blogger blog for a new learning project... but on the other hand, I am tempted to use my Canvas Community blog instead. At this moment, I am leaning towards the Canvas Community option because promoting Canvas is a big part of the ONE project, as you can see at their website: 


screenshot from ONE website

So, given that I already have lots of Blogger blogs that I can point to as examples to share with the Club, I think I will do my actual Club blogging right here in my Canvas Community space. After all, this really IS a blog, with an RSS feed of its own, along with the ability to create blog-specific tags (and even tag-specific RSS feeds for the blog!)... and at the same time, it is also part of this larger Canvas Community project, where I can hope to connect with other Canvas users, in addition to connecting with Writing Club members.


It looks like the specific hashtag at Twitter for the club will be: CCCWrite, so that is what I will use now, along with the ReflectBlog tag I had been using for my own reflection posts:

#CCCWrite across the Canvas Community (that should pick up my posts and anyone else's too!)

#ReflectBlog (that's a tag search jus there at my own Canvas blog space)


So, a big THANK YOU to Michelle Pacansky-Brock and all the people at ONE who are making this happen. I am excited about the project, and very glad to have a Canvas blog here to experiment with as my platform, just to see how that goes.


Happy 2018, everybody!!! And I hope some of the other Canvas Community-goers will want to come along for the reflective ride! :-)


Reflection Cat:

I think. I design. I create. I invent. I reflect. I learn.

cat stares at heap of toilet paper: I think. I design. I create. I invent. I reflect. I learn.