Monday, February 13, 2017

Notes. Blog RSS in Canvas.

In a previous post I wrote up some quick notes about a Diigo RSS feed in Canvas, and in this post I want to write up some notes about how to get a blog RSS feed to appear in Canvas, again using the Inoreader tool. The example I am using today is my new "Feedback Cats" project at my Growth Mindset blog; this Canvas page shows the most recent 5 blog posts with the cats: Blog RSS: Feedback Cats in Canvas (that's an open Canvas course, so just click and go!).

This is Inoreader's "magazine view" (you can also get a full-post view), and I've configured it to display the most recent five items (that's your choice). As you can see, Inoreader grabs a thumbnail, provides a link to the blog post and to the blog itself, along with a snippet from the text of the blog post. If you want to see more, you can click "Next Five" at the bottom of the frame.

To create this Canvas page like this for any blog feed, you follow the same instructions as for the Diigo RSS feed; the process for adding the blog RSS is the same as for Diigo RSS: Subscribe to the blog's RSS feed in an Inoreader folder; Export the folder as RSS/HTML, Configure the HTML Clip, Configure the iframe in Canvas. See that blog post for screenshots and additional details.

Notice that you could put multiple blogs into a folder, so you can use this same solution for a single blog, or for a blog network. For more about how I use Inoreader to manage my blog network, see: Building My Student Blog Network with Inoreader. I've been using Inoreader since 2014, and I have nothing but good things to say: an excellent product with excellent customer service and support.

Blog Site OR Post Feed. So, with any blog, you have two options: you can embed the blog itself in a Canvas page (step by step instructions), or you can display just the most recent post content via RSS, as here. That is the amazing things about blogs: they can function like a website, but they also have a live content stream which you can use separately from the website presentation. It all depends on your needs and goals!

Alternative Solutions:

I found these Community questions about RSS feeds in pages:

Can RSS feeds be on pages? How? Adam Williams replied here with a recommendation for a third party tool (FeedWind), which looks like it would also work. My guess, though, is that Inoreader is the more powerful and flexible option, and I would also guess that it is probably more reliable (running an RSS syndication service requires a lot of dedicated server resources).

Does anyone have a good tool for embedding rss feeds in a course? Here Stefanie Sanders replied with a referral to Feed the Me from the App Center. When I looked up Feed the Me in the App Center, the demo page was broken, and it sounds like it does not deliver thumbnails, only linked titles. Not having thumbnails would be a significant drawback, at least for me. See the Community question page there for details about how people are using the Feed the Me app.

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