I am finding micro.blog a really interesting community.

From an educational POV the most positive experience and the one that I would like to see replicated (in Glow and elsewhere) is #DS106.

DS106 influences the way I think about ScotEduBlogs and the way I built two Glow Blogging Bootcamps 1.

In particular these sites aggregate participants content but encourage any comments and feedback to go on the originators site.

Micro.blog is making me rethink this a little, there you can comment on micro.blog (the same as the blog hub in DS106) and that comment gets sent as a webmention to the originators site. This makes thinks a lot easier to carry through.

Micro.blog also provides the equivalent of the #ds106 twitter hashtag but keeps that in the same space as the hub/rss reader.

Manton recently wrote:

Micro.blog will never be that big. What we need instead of another huge social network is a bunch of smaller platforms that are built on blogs and the open web.

from: Manton Reece – Replacing 1 billion-user platforms

Which made me think.

Firstly it reinforces how Manton really thinks hard about making micro.blog a brilliant place, avoiding the pitfalls of huge silos.

Secondly it speaks to idea of multiple social networks. Imagine if DS106 and ScotEdublogs where both platforms in this sense, I could join in either or both along with others using my blog to publish. I could decide which posts of mine to send to which community, and so on.

It is the same idea I’ve had for Glow blogs since I started working with them 2.

Class blogs could join in and participate in different projects.

It would be easy to start a local or national project and pull together content and conversation from across the web into one learning space. Although I’ve spoken and blogged a lot about this idea I don’t think I’ve made it stick in the minds of many Scottish educators. I wish I could.

  1. Blogging Bootcamp spring 2015 & Blogging Bootcamp #2 Autumn 2015 . I believe the potential for these sorts of educational activity is much underused in primary and secondary education. I wish I was in the position to organise and design more of these…
  2. For example:

UoD EduShare | The central sharing hub for #UoDedu teacher education students at the University of Dundee

Derek described the project succinctly:

On of the things I am most happy about in my involvement in Glow Blogs is the syndication plugin. The UoD EduShare site is a better example of its use than I could have hoped for.

UoD EduShare aggregates posts from student teacher’s blogs at the University of Dundee. In the short time it has been running it has pull in links to and excerpts from over 400 posts from over 90 blogs. A few clicks and a bit of reading shows how involved the students are with their learning and an enthusiasm for sharing their thoughts.

I am excited about this project because it is a great example of what blogs and syndication can do. Longer term we will have teachers entering the profession with a great understanding of this digital environment.

Bugs and Fixes

Previously I’ve used the syndication plugin a couple of times now for Blogging Bootcamp #2 and #ShareOurLearning. These are smaller aggregations than the one Derek is running. In fact Derek found that the plugin had problems. Once he had added around 70 blogs he could not add any more.

This bug has been fixed and the fix applied to the blog service last week. We are currently very lucky in having a great team working on Glow Blogs. Our technical architect prioritised this as a degradation of an expected service and between our developer and test team a solution was found, developed, tested and released quickly.

DIY

If you are a user of Glow Blogs and want to use the syndication plugin there is a help page on using the plugin: Syndication Plugin and I’ve put together a page on Running An Aggregated Course or Collaboration in Glow Blogs. I’d be more than happy helping folk get started with using the plugin on Glow Blogs.

Also on:

Starlings

The new Syndication plugin gives Glow Blogs the ability to bring content in from other sources aggregating content into one space.

For example a School site could aggregate several department or class blogs. This gives the classes/departments a degree of autonomy and control. Schools could decide to only pull in posts with a particular category or tag onto the mothership site.

I’ve been a big fan of aggregation of information ever since I started blogging. Blogs provide a stream of their posts as RSS. This can be used to keep on top of a lot of content through an RSS reader and RSS can be used to distribute information. For example you can show posts from one blog on the sidebar of another with the RSS widget.

Going further than that usually takes a bit more work and either a plugin, specialised software or a workaround. For example on the Blogging Bootcamp I am pulling in links from over 50 blogs through one aggregate RSS feed. The aggregation is being done by an external site inoreader. The only option was to display this in the blog sidebar. I hope to be able to do similar projects from now on with the syndication plugin and displaying posts.

The Syndication Plugin

In phase 2.2 of the Glow Blogs project we added the syndication plugin. This is a simplified version of a more complex plugin being developed by Automattic. The plugin allows you to add RSS feeds so that their posts appear on the syndicating blog. Once you have activated the plugin you can create a group, add sites to it via their RSS feeds and pull that content onto your blog where it is published. Importantly you can set it so that the source link for the post is the original blog and commentators will be redirected there, you do not need to steal the content.

This is what we do on ScotEduBlogs where over 100 blogs are aggregated for easy reading. Until now it would not  be possible to do this in Glow.

It is also how the best, in my opinion, course on the internet is run DS106.. There the course activities are posted and participants responses, published on their own sites are pulled in. the syndication plugin will give us a chance to do this inside Glow Blogs.

I’ve started a guide to using the plugin on the Glow Help Blog (Syndication Plugin | Glow Blog Help) and am starting to use the plugin for a couple of projects (#ShareOurLearning | Gathering Learning from around Scotland).