If you are not using Feeds on your Blackboard course site, you might consider investigating this option. Feeds are ways that syndicated content can get to you and can save you a lot of time. Say for instance that you require your students to post to a blog and you also want the students to view and respond to other student’s blogs within the Blackboard interface. I’ve found that using Internet Explorer works better than Firefox for using this Feed feature in Blackboard. Here’s how you do this:
- You’ll need to get the feed URL from your students’ blogs. You can usually easily find/get this by right clicking (control click on an Apple) the feed icon on the student’s blog or wiki and then copy the URL. This URL will be similar to the URL of the blog or wiki, but will usually have “feed” or “RSS” in it. Remember, it is the FEED ADDRESS you are looking for and need, not the URL (web address of the blog/wiki).
- Go to your Blackboard course site and then click Control Panel>Feeds.
- Click “External Links” and then put in the name you want (probably your student’s name) and then insert the feed address.
- You can also type in some additional content if you want, such as information about this blog/wiki.
- Click Submit and then check the link in your course site. In Internet Explorer, it should display as something similar to the image below:
If the feed does not show up correctly, it probably means that you don’t have the correct URL. Double check this with your student and the blog to make sure that the feed is correct. If you cannot figure out how to find the feed address, simply use Internet Explorer and click the Feed link on the student’s blog or wiki. You will then be redirected to the feed and will see the feed URL in the address bar. Copy and paste this to the Feed External link on your Blackboard Course site and it should work.
One more thing . . . your students’ blog or wiki will need to be public to be feed enabled. So, if they have a private blog or wiki, they will not be able to provide a feed for this. That’s the downside of creating private blogs and wikis. However, you could post the actual URL of their blog or wiki on your Blackboard course site (just make a content page called “blogs” for instance and then make that a menu item on your course) and list your students and their blogs/wikis. Their blog will automatically open in the Blackboard frame.
Why use feeds? The simple reason is that users can quickly see which postings they have read or not. Updated content is sent to the user, rather than the user having to go through the blog each time, trying to remember what they’ve read (or not.) So, feeds can offer real advantages.
Here’s a quick video that shows you how to do this: http://screencast.com/t/8Av2AWtAk
As always, please contact me with any questions or ideas that might help others use this information more effectively. Have a great Tuesday.