A couple of weeks ago I kicked of a blogging bootcamp as part of my day job. The idea is to help folk through getting started with class blogging. Each week for 10 weeks there are, technical tasks, discussions and blogging challenges which participating classes (or teachers) can choose to do.

My thinking is based on my own experience in a few online classes/MOOCs and, of course ds106. The bit I really wanted to do was aggregate the participants blogs back to the bootcamp blog. Hopefully this would lead to some connections and community.

I had hoped as part of the progress with glow blogs we would by now have had a plugin in place that would help with this. Unfortunately this has not happened yet.

My next though was to set up a blog outside glow, install the necessary plugin (FeedWordPress probably) and aggregate the posts there. This aggregation could be brought back to the bootcamp blog as an RSS feed.

I ended up going for much less work. I use Inoreader as my RSS reader. It has the rather nice feature when you can get an RSS feed for any of your folders of feeds. This is how it works.

After participants make their first post, they send me a link. We are asking them to categorize their posts bootcamp so I use the feed for that. For example Wemyss Bay Primary P6, their bootcamp category is:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/in/primary6wbps/category/bootcamp/

So the RSS feed will be

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/in/primary6wbps/category/bootcamp/feed

I add that to my Inoreader and put it in the BootCamp folder:

inoreader screeshot

From the Folder Settings menu I can then get a link to the aggregated RSS feed and a page that aggregates all the posts too.

Back on the bootcamp blog I’ve added a RSS widget to the sidebar using this feed. This displays the last 20 posts from participants on the blog.

rss widget on bootcamp blog

I’d prefer to show more of the participants post on the main section of the blog but I believe this is a further wee story that shows how nice this sort of technique could be. If we get a suitable plugin in glow blogs, we could run all sots of ‘events’ and learning experiences by just aggregating participating class or school blogs through a ‘mothership’ blog.

3 thoughts on “Some Simple Aggregation

  1. Hi John

    Joys of WordPress Multisite. FeedWordPress plugin is great for aggregrating but can cause server preformance issues with Multisite. On large installs better to avoid RSS and use a plugin that uses post indexer plugin.

    If you allow embed code you could use the FeedWind RSS widget ( http://feed.mikle.com ). This widget provides a range of options including ability to display post excerpt and you could try setting a wider width to embed in a page.

    Sue Waters

    • Thanks Sue,
      I was a wee bit concerned about FeedWordPress. I’ll check FeedWind out.
      I really like the way FWP lets you keep and manipulate tags and categories. I am also thinking autoblog from wpmudev might do the trick?

  2. Hi John

    We have our own custom plugins that uses WPMU DEV post indexer. Our front end reader ( http://edublogs.org/reader/ ) gives you an idea of how it works (the original concept). Most of our focus is now on the Dashboard Reader. This information gives you some insight into how the dashboard reader works with My Class – http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/step-11-set-up-student-blogs/

    You are able to search for tags and categories across the entire network within the dashboard reader.

    Sue Waters

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