Ingesting Open Content into a Course Blogsite


One of the use-cases for UCalgaryBlogs.ca is for a class to integrate external resources such as OpenLearn courses, or potentially anything that has an RSS feed, to be ingested into the class blogsite. Currently, there are 2 scenarios possible for doing this, each with their own specific benefits, but neither quite matching what I think would make for a more powerful way to contextualize these external resources within the activities of a course.

With the VERY sweet OpenLearn Republisher plugin, you can set up a set of Sources (courses on OpenLearn, etc...) to be pulled into an installation of WordPress Multiuser. The OpenLearn plugin creates a new blog for each Source, and sucks down all items in the provided RSS feed into that blog, and creates blog Posts for each item.

[caption id="attachment_2308" align="aligncenter" width="492" caption="OpenLearn Course Importing Plugin Workflow"]OpenLearn Course Importing Plugin Workflow[/caption]

The benefit of this is a set of centralized blog sites for each course, which could be shared across multiple courses. But that's also the big downside of this model - what if you want to contextualize the content differently for each course that's using it? If you didn't want to do that, why not just use the online OpenLearn hosted version of the course?

With FeedWordPress (or wp-o-matic) you can pull RSS feeds into a single course blogsite, and all items will be published as blog Posts within that site. Categories can be set up and inherited to help organize the imported content.

[caption id="attachment_2309" align="aligncenter" width="419" caption="FeedWordPress RSS Importing Workflow"]FeedWordPress RSS Importing Workflow[/caption]

But, if the activity of the course takes place as blog Posts, it becomes mixed in with any content imported from the external resources. Conversation and content become merged.

Ideally, a course blogsite would use the Pages feature to manage "content" - the stuff the conversations refer to - and use the blog Posts for the activity and conversation of the course. As such, I think it would be more effective to have the content from external resources be ingested into a blogsite as Pages, created within the hierarchy of pages (select a parent page, and a full table of contents structure is generated as needed).

[caption id="attachment_2310" align="aligncenter" width="420" caption="Ideal open content ingestor workflow"]Ideal open content ingestor workflow[/caption]

I'm not sure if that's possible now with the available tools, but I think we're getting REALLY close to a powerful open content contextualization platform - ingesting prepared resources for use within the spatial and temporal contexts of a course.

Ideally, the power and features of OpenLearn Republisher, with the ability to designate the "host" blog for the ingested content (or have it create new blogsites as needed), and to create Pages rather than Posts. It's VERY close, and it's got the potential to change how people interact with (open) content.


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