Blogs: September 2007 Archives

Reading Student Feeds in Penn State Blogs

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If you assign blogs to students, then one issue you have is keeping track of which students has which blog and what they posted.

There are several tools people have been using:

1) A folder in Google reader or other RSS Aggregator
2) Adding links in the sidebar with the Blogroll tool

But I decided to experiment with templates and widgets and I came up with a page which pulls feeds from different sources and lists them in one page.
Screen capture of table with links to student blogs and headlines


As you can see it's actually duplicating code from the Feed widget normally found in the sidebar.
Screen Capture Sidebar with External Links

How To

To get this, I first created a template, inserted a table, then cut and paste the feed widget code in each cell. I should warn you that you may not want to do this unless you're comfortable working with using raw HTML code.

1) I created a new static page in the blogs using the Blogs Index templates called "studentblogs.html". I was able to copy the blog header from the index.html template and change the title.

2) I created a table three cells wide with as many rows as I needed (I used Dreamweaver to help with that).

3) I then copied and pasted the Movable Type feed code below (from the Six Apart Forum) into each table cell.

<div class="module-feed module">
<h2 class="module-header">FEED TITLE HERE</h2>
<div class="module-content">
<MTFeed uri="http://BLOG URL/index.xml">
<ul><MTFeedEntries lastn="5">
<li><a href="&<$MTFeedEntryLink encode_html="1"$>"><$MTFeedEntryTitle$></a></li>
</MTFeedEntries></ul>
</MTFeed>
</div>
</div>

4) To finish the page, I clicked Save and Rebuild The page should be visible within your blog with the document name you gave it (e.g. "studentblogs.html")

5) I used the Blogroll plugin to create a link to this page in the sidebar of my main page.

The process is a bit tedious and I had to test a lot, but now that I have it, I really like it. I can tell which students have posted what at a glance, which is really handing when grading weekly assignments.