For the past 5 years, I have had the extraordinary good fortune to work with creative and talented people who value not only the need to create tools that facilitate learning, but tools that also are open, available for sharing, and heck, are danged good looking too. And for those of you who have followed LLU and the Teaching Transparently tag/thread here, you will know that creating a class blogging tool has been a work in progress.
My colleague Justin , a man of many extraordinary talents, is an accomplished musician and photographer and programmer. He has added to that list of talents “WordPress Wrangler” and as such has developed The Class Blogs Plugin. What is nice about this tool is that it creates a front page “mother” blog as an aggregator of the student generated content (each student has hs or her blog as part of this package as well). Unlike most blogs that display posts horizontally (the newest one at the top and pushing the older posts down…) this tool takes feeds from the students blogs, and pulls them to the front page such that the most recent post is in the upper left corner of the page…with all of the other posts still being displayed, albeit shifted slightly to the right and down. The effect is that of a newspaper, I think. Also any images posted on the students’ blogs percolate up to the sidebar in the “mother” blog (with links back to the posts).
The tool is free and available for download off of the plugin page on the WordPress.org site. Please download it, check it out, try it out, and let us know (and others!) what you think. I would love to collaborate with others using this tool, with the hopes of thinking new and fun ways of using it for learning.