I signed up for the kickstarter of micro.blog, it went live earlier this week.

Micro.blog is a new social network for independent microblogs.
Start a microblog today. Easy to publish, own your content, great cross-posting.

Micro.blog

The service is very new and so far has changed and developed every day.

The idea is, you publish short posts, these are mirrored on micro.blog/yourusername via RSS. The posts can be from any RSS feed. You can get a micro.blog hosted blog at yourusername.micro.blog or use your own hosting.

The micro.blog iOS app will post to your micro.blog blog or your own WordPress blog. Or you can use your own system. There is a microblog bot that will post your posts on to Twitter too.

The difference between the hosted blog and your micro.blog/username stream is a mite confusing at the moment. I wonder if a different domain name might have helped.

Both the hosted blog and the twitter bot are paid for options. The docs make it clear that you can host your own and point to IFTTT as an alternative to the bot.

The system follows the indieweb principle of controlling your own content and sending it on to other spaces.

Replies on micro.blog to your posts are sent as webmentions to your own blog and show up as comments if you have the webmention plugin installed. I had that already to get twitter replies as comments.

My setup

I’ve added a new category here, micro. I’ve edited the blog to not have posts with this category show on the home page, they show on micro instead.

I set the micro.blog app to create posts with the status format in the micro category.

I turned off the jetpack social posting to Twitter function. I’ll manually post normal posts. I’ve set up a micro.blog bot to post to Twitter.

The service is very much a work in progress, and I’ve not really read the docs but I’ve noticed a few interesting things.

titleless

On is that the posts on micro.blog consist of descriptions with no titles. When you post form the app, you get a post on your blog without a title. A post with a title on your blog is posted as a link to micro.blog. With a post without out a title the description becomes the content of the micro.blog post.

That means you get lots of posts listed in your dashboard as ‘no title’. Since I didn’t like this I tried to auto add titles to posts without titles with a little Google-fu and some WordPress coding.

This worked out fine, except the posts on micro.blog consist of a title and a link, the tweet posted by the twitter bot is the same.

I am now looking to create a custom RSS feed without title. More googling ahead.

Alternatively I could use the code from Tweaks for micro.blog that adds dates as titles, micro.blog ignore these.

Or just learn to live with ‘no title’ posts in the dashboard.

Me on Micro.blog

Preparing for the microblog is a lot more coherent than this post if you are looking for setup advice.

I’ll post the code I’ve mentioned above at some point, it is pretty simple stuff.

This is hopefully a useful tip for organising pupil created content on WordPress blogs like Glow Blogs.

Most of the content posed to blogs consists of posts or pages. Posts join the stream, pages are static generally accessed from menus.

This is another way to organise content that can be useful. Especially if several pupils are posting similar content at the same time. It helps organise that content and the early posters don’t get pushed away down the stream.

An Example Banton Birds

At school we are trying to pay attention to the local birdlife. We took part in the BIG BBC Bird watch with local Bird watchers, Mr & Mrs Carter. We started feeding the birds and trying to get some photos.

The pupils are doing a bit of research on the birds we saw (not too many it was a windy hour) and I hope they will continue over time adding other birds seen in the playground and around.

I want to organise these bits of research automatically collecting them together. To do this the pupils create, not posts or pages but a custom post type, project.

How it is done

This is just one way to do this but it is, at least on Glow Blogs, the most straightforward. It uses the JetPack Custom Content Types module and the unfortunately 1 named Portfolio Projects.

These projects are like pages in that they are out of the flow but like posts have Project Types (like categories) and Project Tags (like tags) that can be used to organise them. The also have a shortcode that can be used to create an index of the projects by type or tag2.

  1. Activate the Jetpack plugin.
  2. In Jetpack Settings Activate Custom Content Types.
  3. In Settings-> Writing Enable Portfolio Projects for this site
  4. Pupils create Projects for each item, add a project type (in this case Birds).

To create an index of these projects I add a page Banton Birds and add a shortcode to the page:

[portfolio include_type=birds display_types=false]

To make the index more visual the pupils make sure they have added a featured image to their posts. That automatically creates a thumbnail.

I’ve used this technique several times on blogs myself, including the Projects page on this blog. I’ve used it too to provide and organise photos and links on the Biggies blog for the pupils.

1. For Glow Blogs where we have a lot of pupil e-portfolios through a custom plugin.

2. You could do the same with pages using the hierarchy and the Display Posts Shortcode plugin, but not as easily.

In 2015 my blogging was dominated by Glow Blogs and WordPress. This year the picture was a little different. Here is a Wordle of my 2016 titles.

Wordle 2016

WordPress stays near the top and Glow Blogs featured quite often but not in the titles of the post. 23 Things, Open (including OER16) and Edutalk stand out.

Most of my time in 2015 was taken up by Glow Blogs, 2016 brought big changes, before I’d got used to being back in my substantive post, supporting ICT in North Lanarkshire, I found myself being redeployed into a class teachers role. I’ve not blogged much about that, sticking to technology: some in the classroom, some more general.

The post Questioning Glow got most reaction.

A fair number of posts are under the 23 things banner and I’ve become even more interested in thinking about the the way that using software affects us. I think the questions I talked about at Always on (them): Digital and Social Media use in Education #DigitalUWS are important.

Apart from my Radio Edutalk contributions, which slacked a bit this year I made several microcasts here. There are just short, unedited podcasts, in my case posted from my phone. I doubt that many were listening but I enjoy the format.

My most popular post was An interesting mix: Chromebook and Raspberry pi. This was a passing interest as I no longer have access to a chromebook. I did blog a fair bit about my Pi(s) which continue to interest me.

As I prepare for think about my 13th year blogging, this blog continues to meander through topics that take my fancy, often it feels like me alone. I often read about how to make your blog more popular, and continue to break most of that advice.

Featured image: A quick gif made for #tdc1818 The End is Near! Make a GIF | The (new) Daily Create, I’ve not created as much as I would have liked for the daily create, but I still recommend it as a great exercise for playing with digital and your imagination.

Last week after our DS106 Good Spell broadcast Mariana told me about 23 Things. This looks like an interesting course for Edinburgh University students, staff and anyone with access to the internet.

I had a quick look at the list of things covered in the course 23 Things List – 23 Things. These look interesting enough to sign up.

The idea is to try out a couple of things each week and blog about them. So here we go

Week One: Introduction and Blogging – 23 Things

Write a blog post and tag it 23ThingsEdUni. (When you tag a blog post with 23ThingsEdUni, so long as your blog has been registered, that post will be pulled into our 23 Things Community Blog. This way you can share your thoughts and experiences with others on the programme.)
Use your blog to write a short post about:
A) what you hope to gain out of the 23 Things programme.
B) were you aware of the University’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Researchers or the student Social Media Student Handbook? What do you think of the guidelines/handbook?

A. I hope to rethink the sort of things I’ve been doing online for a while. Take the opportunity to dig in to some things I think I know about in a little depth. Some of my ideas have not been revisited for quite a few years.

I am also interested in taking another open online course, I’ve been hanging round ds106 for a while and ran a couple of small course for primary schools last year. I’ve a real belief that these types of course can be pretty powerful.

B. I was aware of North Lanarkshire’s Social Media policy. One of thing I really like about it is that they recognise that schools can use social media in useful ways and need to have a deal of freedom in doing so.

The council uses third-party software to manage its social media networks. Any new official page/site will be required to be managed using this software. There is an exception for Learning & Leisure services staff in schools where social media is used as part of a teaching and learning environment or as a communication tool.

My Emphasis.

I’ve a twitter list of NLC Schools which is quite vibrant.

*Featured image: Flickr Photo: Bobbi Newman – CC BY-NC-SA

For the last few (twelve) years I’ve been a enthusiastic proponent of blogging by pupils. I only actually carried this out in the classroom from 2004 till 2008 when I started work in North Lanarkshire as an ICT staff development officer.

Since then I’ve run plenty of courses around blogging, continued to blog myself and investigated lots of blogging systems. I also support pupils setting up e-Portfolio blogs in many classroom in flying visits. I spent a couple of years working on Glow Blogs and continue to provide support for Glow Blogs on a part time basis.

I’ve got a strong opinion of the positive value of pupils posting about their learning. I hope as I provided support and encouragement for pupil posting that I kept in mind the difficulties of organising this in class.

I am now back to eating my own dog food and again in the position to blog about ‘Teaching, ict, and suchlike’ from the position of a classroom teacher.

In many respects I’ve landed on my feet. I’ve got a very small class of delightful pupils, a good range of hardware and due to the small numbers, bandwidth that is not awful.

However I am feeling pretty out of my depth in regards to the changes in curriculum and practise that have happened in my absence from the classroom.

Beginning with blogs

On the practising what you preach front I’ve started using Glow Blogs. We set up e-Portfolos a couple of weeks ago. I am pretty pleased all the hard work of the Glow Blogs team has paid off from a technical angle. I am not working to hard on the idea of profiling yet, just trying to get the class enthused about owning their own space.

We have also started a class blog Banton Biggies – The Tallest Class in Banton Primary and the pupils have made a couple of posts. Fell free to pop over and leave us a comment.

First thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t get any easier organising time for pupils to post. The ideal is to give them enough time to write a well written reflective post, but also not missing out on too much of the current classroom activity.

The other thing that has changed is the familiarity of current pupils with the Internet. There is a lot of that I need to explore and discuss. Being a YouTuber is an aspiration of more than one pupil I am working with.

Of course this familiarity with the Internet does not come packaged with some of the things I an interested, safety, copyright, controlling your own data, along with technical skills, knowledge of file types, urls, keyboard shortcuts and the rest. A lot of learning will hopefully be sparked by discussing blogging.

We have also started using Glow O365, mostly word and Onedrive so far and I’ll have a fair bit to reflect on that too. I also set up a Yammer group for the pupils, with little instruction about what to do with it. There was a huge wave of enthusiasm from the pupils, but left to their own devices they have mostly posted hi messages. I think I’ll have to seed the group with some ideas to get things going.

Joining some dots

What I am hoping that I can do with the blogging is to start the pupils reading other pupils posts making some connections perhaps with other small schools. Hopefully I can get a podcast together too, watch that space.

Get in touch if you have pupils posting that would like a few comments or would be interested in some sort of blog to blog communication. It might take me a wee while to get going but that’s the direction I hope to travel in.

Featured image: Flickr Photo: simpleinsomnia – CC BY stamped with attribution with FlickrCC Stampr

  1. They comment on other people’s posts.
  2. They like other people’s posts.
  3. They share them.
  4. They…

from: What do nice Internet users do?

Click through to see all 12 points from Dave Winer who should know, having blogged as long than anyone.

From a education PoV good advice for reading and responding to pupils post, but applicable everywhere.

Featured image: Nice to be important by Michelle Grewe on Flickr shared with a Creative Commons — CC0 1.0 Universal license, which was nice.

Here’s a fun thing to try if you’ve been blogging for a while (Warning: may not actually be fun). Get a random date from when you started blogging until present (eg using this random date generator), find the post nearest that date and revisit it.
….

  1. What, if anything, is still relevant?
  2. What has changed?
  3. Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
  4. What is my personal reaction to it?

from: Revisiting my own (blog) past | The Ed TechieThe Ed Techie

I’ve a random button1 here and occasionally look back without the the discipline that Martin Weller suggested.  I gave this more thoughtful approach a go.

I came up with this: Impermanence and Comments from 10 years ago.

That post was just a placeholder to link to a favourite post by one of my pupils. There was not much analysis, but hopefully pointing out that pupils posting and engaging with an audience is a powerful tool in the classroom.

I do think this is still relevant, there are a lot more primary school using Social media and blogging now as there was then. I also think that it is good to have examples of pupils doing the blogging and that can have value. Now it seems like a lot of posts come from teachers as opposed to learners.

It is also particularly relevant to me as I’ll be returning, with some trepidation, to class teaching after more than eight years next week.

What has changes is the average 10 year old is a lot more used to publishing to the Internet, plenty use FaceBook, instagram or have a YouTube channel. I wonder if writing for the web will have the same excitement.

I am not sure such a short post reveals anything about my discipline, except that I’ve consistently believed that blogging should help to give an audience and purpose to pupil writing and learning.

My personal reaction was quiet pleasure at finding the pupil’s poem and the cross continent conversation that went with it. I do hope I can help provide opportunities for pupils to do the same again.

Finally I remembered that the Sandaig Site will probably be decommissioned very soon. This made me a little sad. It did let me edit the post and click the amber button to send the original poem post to the Internet archive.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 12.20.50

The Featured image on this post is one of my own flickr photos, created by blending two random CC flickr photos, with this toy or its slightly older sibling.

1. The link on my blog uses a trick appending /?random to a WordPress blog url gives a random post, I learnt that from an old dog.

In regards to sharing openly, Doug Belshaw recommend s creating a canonical URL. The intent is to provide a starting point for people to engage with and build upon your work and ideas. This could be one space in which to share everything or you could h...

In regards to sharing openly, Doug Belshaw recommend s creating a canonical URL. The intent is to provide a starting point for people to engage with and build upon your work and ideas. This could be one space in which to share everything or you could have a separate link for each project. What matters is that it is public.

 

Arron Davis on the importance of sharing and linking.

As well as being a great link this is a test post, pulling in content from my pinboard links with FeedWordPress and saving them as a pending post, with the custom format of pinboard. The posts are marked as pending, allowing me to mark up the quote and add some text. 

The title of the post should link to Arron’s blog rather than mine. I hope there is a nice wee pinboard icon on the left.

I know we are in the days of lots of free space, but it is worth remembering when blogging (or making webpages) shrinking images is worth doing for your visitors.

I don’t always do it, but today as I updates a Glow Blogs Help page, I saved nearly half the space by using, ImageOptim — better Save for Web.

There are other tools, but this one is free & open source, works on a Mac, but lists and links to windows & linux tools.