Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1 of the semester... Blogger+Inoreader success

Given that so many students had created their blogs already during the "soft start" week of the class last week, I wasn't too worried... but still, what a great relief that the new Blogger blog approach seems to be working just great! There are now 60 blogs up and running (out of appx. 90), and no problems at all along the way. A couple of people were not clear on the difference between blogs and blog posts (so they tried to create a new blog for each new post), but we got that straightened out pretty easily, and I revised the instructions accordingly. Best of all: people seem really excited about blogging with a real blogging tool like this. Most of them are completely new to blogging (a few tumblr users, a few WordPress, but overall: blogging is new!), and I am really glad about how the first post about "Favorite Places" was something fun and easy to write, while also introducing them to one of the most powerful things about blogging: combining text and images.

That particular assignment — create a blog, and then create a Favorite Place(s) blog post — has a due date of Tuesday, so I should get the rest of those in tomorrow. I'm very pleased at how many people took care of all that already on Monday (or earlier).

I was also super-pleased with how Inoreader is helping my workflow (a couple of specific posts about that at Google+ here and here), and the guys at Inoreader even tweaked the HTML clippings so that the width is now a variable that I can control. That let me create a nice page at the class website with the Favorite Places posts embedded via an iframe right there inside the class site. Here's that page, and here's a screenshot:

So, tomorrow they will be adding more of these Favorite Places posts, and then on Wednesday will come the storytelling posts! There are already about a couple dozen of those storytelling posts also, using all three of the options - fable, nursery rhyme, map. So far it looks like the nursery rhyme is the popular choice, which is just great: that was something new this semester too!

I'm sure there are going to be snags and problems along the way, but at least so far, I didn't really have anything to worry about with these new features of the class. I guess that by focusing on the classes over the summer (something I've never done before!), I really got "in the groove," so that the changes fit together nicely and all make sense. Or so it seems from how things are going thus far... and one student is already done with Week 2 (pretty amazing!). That's very reassuring: if he got through all of Week 1 and all of Week 2, the instructions must make at least some sense. :-)

Anyway, long day — we'll see what tomorrow brings, and I am excited that it will start off with me commenting on as many of these wonderful blog posts as I can find time for! Whoo-hoo!

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