Some Blogging Sleight of Hand

This was my idea as a change for 2015 Project Community. Previously we had students created individual tumblr blogs for their reflection, and I put the magic move on to have the course site syndicate those posts into it.

I suggested tumblr because it is easy to set up and post. I have to say we saw mixed usage of it; of course it is new to many, and some students took several weeks to get going with it. And many used it more like a place to dump assignments.

So I suggested we move the platform to a shared author blog on — in a group blog they can be more accountable and supportive to each other. And we can now syndicate in maybe 20 team blogs rather than 80-100 individual ones, still having ways to link to student work, team, and also to aggregate via the teams being part of a larger NGO group.

The schematic for the teams and groups is one Laura shared:


I also think students will get more practical experience out of knowing a bit of of using WordPress, because it is something many web sites are built with, than tumblr. So it’s a transferrable skill.

My newest idea is to do a mid term twist. Usually when people set up a blog, they fuss a lot over the theme and design before they have content and a structure. It is like building a house and wanting to put up the wall paper in the bathroom before the foundation is poured.

So in the beginning I am going to urge them to ignore the theme, and in fact, use the simple Twenty-Fifteen on used on this site. The goal is work on the infrastructure, the categories, tags, and a regular practice of self narrating, plus more publicly summarizing the teams’s progress.

It will look like a normal flow of blogs- post, post, post, post.

As the teams work towards their final project, I will do some work to show them how they can shift the blog, via a new template or simply creating a static landing page, to convert the site into something more like a project portfolio than a narrative blog. All the narration is present, but we can pull it off the front page, and make the project the focus.

There will be a bot more that needs to be explained up front for this, so I have been building out a multi-page blogging guide. It’s only half or less done now at

(and this post is a bit of modeling consuming one’s own dog good)

Feature Image Credits: flickr photo by jmayer1129 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


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Barking about and playing around with web technology at On twitter @cogdog and flickr

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