Laura Gibbs

5 Ways of Bringing Blogs to Canvas

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Jan 20, 2018

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!