Laura Gibbs

Tips on Blogger-in-Canvas

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Aug 23, 2018

I'm writing this blog post for Jonathan Yoder in particular, but also for anyone who is interested in using Blogger as a kind of "content gateway" in Canvas so that you can quickly and easily publish content in a Canvas course space, or in multiple course spaces if you want. I use a Blogger page as the homepage for my classes, but of course you could also set it up as a content gateway separate from daily announcements. To get a sense of what that means, you might take a look at this Blogger blog in my Myth course:

Homepage: embedded in a page so that I can use it as the homepage

Daily News: as a redirect tool app in the sidebar menu (it displays more nicely that way without the righthand menu)

 

Here is the freestanding blog itself, outside of Canvas:

https://ouclassannouncements.blogspot.com/ 

To simulate the mobile view, just add ?m=1 to any address at the blog:

https://ouclassannouncements.blogspot.com/?m=1 

 

I get all the advantages of blogging, with the convenience for the students of seeing the content right there in Canvas. I've written about that in other posts here at the Community, but what I'm going to detail here at Jonathan's request is how I set up the blog in Blogger, using options that give it a clean display in Canvas and a good mobile view too. WordPress has a ton of options, I know, but I like the fact that Blogger actually doesn't have that many options; I don't really tinker with the blog design. I spend all my time on content!

 

The Blogger theme I am using is called PICTURE WINDOW. It is one of the old-style themes, which I personally prefer. I like to have a blog sidebar (even though I know it is suppressed in the mobile view). The newer themes are mobile-first designs, and while they are very popular with my students (most of whom also use Blogger), I am loyal to the old-school designs. And most of my students do their class work on laptops, so Picture Window is a good choice for me. The Settings: Themes lets you explore all the options, and then you can customize the theme you choose. You can change themes at any time; it does not affect the content of your posts.

 

screenshot of Blogger themes settings

 

I have customized my chosen theme in only a few ways. The crimson color scheme works nicely for me (it's close enough to my school colors), and for the background, I use one of the transparent images; transparent is one of the image categories you can choose from):

 

screenshot of transparent image options

 

For the width, I made the choices based on content readability, both for the posts and for the widget content I use. (Yes, the width is awkward when Canvas has both left- and right-hand menus, which is why I encourage my students to switch to the "Daily News" view, where there is no right-hand menu as there is on the homepage.)

 

screenshot of widths

 

I also added a snippet of code to the HTML file to force links open in a new tab. That's because I might occasionally have a link to an http page, and in Canvas, that link will not work. By default opening all links in a new tab, I don't have to worry about whether a link goes to an http or an https page. The snippet I added is highlighted here:

 

screenshot of HTML snippet in Blogger theme

 

I know some people are not believers in opening pages in new tabs, but I don't want my students to go down the rabbit hole of opening pages inside Canvas and hit a dead end with an http link. To be honest, I only have the blog inside Canvas as a convenience; I'm actually happier if they are out on the real Internet where they can bookmark the webpages they might use later! That's why I encourage them on the homepage view to just open the blog in a new tab of its own anyway:

 

screenshot of blog as homepage

 

I hope that is a start on answering your questions, Jonathan Yoder, and now we can use this space to discuss further. I really hope your teacher will have a good experience with this. For me, blogging is the fastest way to publish and share content with my students, including in Canvas. :-)

Outcomes