We been thinking a lot about new methods of syndication at DTLT, but I have to admit we won’t be writing off RSS just yet. I do hope that one day we can synch comments between in psots seamlessly between a course hub and student blog—or event abstract comments out all together—but in the meantime I’m still using FeedWordPress to aggregatate and display comments from a distributed constellation of student blogs to my course aggregator blog. What follows is a howto for just that.
I actually aggregated all the comments feeds from the True Crime seminar blogs last week and it’s a bit of a workaround, but it works. To do this grab all the blog URLs for your students’ blogs and append
http://truecrime.umwblogs.org/comments/feed will aggregate all the comments for that blog, and so on. This is an imperfect method because not all posts for a single blog are related to a particular course, but in my instance, t least, it works.
Once you have all the comment feeds for the student blogs on their own line in a text document you can copy and paste them into an OPML file builder. I found one at FeedShow Goodies here.
Once all the feeds, each on their own line, are entered click the “Create OPML” button to get the code for the OPML file. Once you have it just copy and paste that into a plain text document and save it as recent_comments.opml (or something like that, just make sure extension is opml).
Once that’s all done, head over to FeedWordPress in the course aggregator blog and click the green “Import Source List” button to import the OPML file.
Once you import the OPML file (which brings in the comment feed for each of the student blogs individually) you then need to edit each of the comment feeds and add a unique category to it such as “Comments.” This allows each of the posts that come into the aggregator course hub to have a shared category that you can both exclude from the front page, as well display in the Sidebar as recent comments.
At this point once you assign all incoming posts from the comment feeds to the Comments category you’re ready for the last two steps.
Add the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin to your blog and exclude posts in the Comments category from the front page of your blog. You don’t want all the comments to show up as posts in the blog flow, or at least I don’t. You want them for two reasons: 1) to show the most recent 10 comments from around the blogs in the sidebar (how to do that is the final step coming up next) and 2) for the ability to filter by the comments category in the Posts section of the course blog to see all comments made by students over the course of the semester.
The final step is to install the List Category Posts plugin on your blog and set it up in the sidebar so that the 10 most recent posts in the comments category are listed. Here’s how my sidebar widget looks on my True Crime course blog:
And that should be it, a whole lot of steps for a rather simple thing, but so it goes in the world of a hacker who has no programming skills.