Michael Willits (do you have a blog I can link to yet, and why aren’t you blogging this?) sent me an email last week about some of the very cool work Danielle Stern is doing with her Gender Communication courses at Christopher Newport University (hereafter CNU). This spring Michael (being a DTLT kinda guy) encouraged her to consider blogging in these course as a way for students to process and share conversations about the role of gender in communication relationships—a course and topic designed for blogging and the internet if there ever was one! Seems like she ran with the idea and has done an amazing job getting her students not only comfortable with the idea of blogging and letting their thoughts extend beyond the confines of the classroom walls, but also in encouraging them to engage in more thoughtful discussions during class sessions based on postings on the their’ respective blogs.
What’s more, given the limitations of the current setup of WordPress at CNU she wasn’t really able to get her students up and running quickly on the campus blog solution. So what did she do? She imagined her own
tag/aggregation syndication bus viz-a-viz WordPress.com. All her student got their own blog, and then simply used a unique, agreed upon tag for all the posts that were related to this course. A course portal that was basically provided by WordPress.com with one simple RSS feed (kinda like what we have been doing with FeedWordPress and the Syndication Bus). You can see the feeds for each of these course below, and note that they are simply display all the posts for these unique tags:
So, I hadn’t realized before—but I should have—that anyone can approximate this distributed syndication model through WordPress.com for nothing. The only drawbacks is that everyone in the class needs a WordPress.com blog—don’t imagine you can pull in self-hosted feeds, Blogger, Drupal, Typepad, etc., which is the essence of the Syndication bus in my mind.
Which brings a larger question to my mind, if Matt Mullenweg is talking to Andrew Keen about thinking of blogging—and by extension WordPress—as an aggregation point for all our distributed online media, when is it going to make something like simple, powerful, and customized syndication of a whole host of feeds from the widest possible variety of services part of the core code/service. Think about how this would change how this professor used WordPress.com, she could simply create a blog and add her students’ feeds, or even better if it was setup properly, allow them to do it themelves using an agreed upon password or something that allows them to add it to a field. Then, the aggregation bus comes to WordPress.com, and while it might cost a little extra to keep out all the crazy spammers and the like, it would actually realize the push of blogs more generally as aggregation points which, I agree, is exactly the logic all of this is heading towards.