Laura Gibbs

Inoreader: Bringing the power of blogging to Canvas

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Jan 8, 2018

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