Tag Archives: rss

Beginning the World Over Again⤴

from @ robin_macp

I was encouraged to write this by Jill Berry and Lena Carter, who both wrote excellent reflective blogs recently that show why they’re two of the most important voices in education, and are people that I respect greatly (links are at the end). It’s been far too long since I wrote something for my own website, but I’ve been able to contribute pieces to various other blogs and media outlets this year. If you’ve never taken up writing about education, but have always had an itch to do so, I strongly recommend it. The thought process that goes into blogging is, for me, the best and most therapeutic form of professional reflection. 

James Furlong and Owain Bristow

There can be no doubt that 2020 was a year that brought many lows, but for me the loss of two colleagues far outweighs anything else that happened. When I was Head of History at Wellington College, James Furlong was in the same role at the Holt School in Wokingham. He was a lovely guy, with a sharp intellect and superb subject knowledge. I got to know him through professional learning events that we ran for history teachers, and he very kindly took on School Direct trainees from my department. They always came back full of praise for the wisdom and advice that he imparted. James was tragically killed in a senseless terrorist attack in Reading, and I can only imagine how that would have impacted on his school community – who, it must be said, gave wonderfully compassionate support to their staff and pupils. James was an active member of the LGBTQI+ community who went out of his way to help people; he was the very epitome of kindness. The Holt are raising money for a memorial garden in his memory, and you can make a donation here.

In August, our Head of Biology at Robert Gordon’s College, Owain Bristow, died in a tragic accident just after we had returned to school. Owain was a brilliant scientist, with a quirky sense of humour, and the tributes that poured in showed just how much he meant to everyone in our community. He loved the outdoors, and dedicated much of his spare time to volunteering with Aberdeen Young Walkers. He was also a top-level athlete, an enthusiastic pantomime performer, and a much-loved son, boyfriend and uncle. The book that we put together of all the letters, cards, pictures and messages we received shows just how many lives he changed for the better. 

Both men gave so much to their schools, but also to wider society. As teachers, we know what we do is important, but we perhaps underestimate just how much. The legacy left by James and Owain shows the true value of the teaching profession. They are greatly missed.

Life as a new headteacher

I started my first headship in August this year, and the phrase that I have heard many times is that I’ve had “a baptism of fire”. True, crisis management has been a consistent feature of my first few months, but ultimately you know what you sign up for when you become a head. It is undoubtedly hard, and it’s not for everyone, but the support you get is amazing. My advice is to try to build up a strong network around you; people who can advise you, provide a sympathetic ear, and also be a critical friend. The better your network, the more able you are to do your job. 

I wrote this blog a few years back about senior leadership, and reflecting on it now I think it holds up pretty well. The tweet by Amy Fast that inspired it is, still, excellent advice:

I did the Scottish MSc level qualification ‘Into Headship’ in 2019-20 at Stirling University, and I can very much recommend it. Everyone I know who has taken it has been full of praise, unlike many people I know who have done NPQH. The reading part is the most challenging for many, but I loved that aspect and picked up a few things along the way. The work on the Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) by Uhl-Bien et al (2007), although not on the prescribed reading list, was perhaps the best thing I read so if you have time then try to delve into it. I think it’s the closest thing to my experience of senior leadership so far.

Lockdown and remote learning

I described the second lockdown in a message to parents this week as “the sequel that nobody wanted, to a movie that no one enjoyed.” However, it won’t last forever and it has at least forced us to find creative solutions to problems that we’ve never faced before. Another colleague made a great point to me this week, namely that the paradigm shift that we’ve experienced has done much to destroy the ‘aye beens’ culture that affects not just Scottish education, but global systems too. That is to say, that we do many things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, without questioning why. I’ve never bought into that; I think we should do things because we know it’s the best way to do them. That’s now throwing national assessment into sharp relief, and I’ve been involved with other leaders in Scottish education in trying to open this debate up since before lockdown, as you can read about in this TES piece. We might, at last, be getting some traction. 

I wrote a piece when we entered the first lockdown about remote learning, and I think much of it still holds true. However, things have moved on, so there is scope to update this based on what we’ve learned over the last few months. It’s been interesting to see this blog getting a lot more hits in the past fortnight, so if you have fresher thoughts about what makes for effective remote learning then please do share them.

Srebrenica – the 25th Anniversary

Two of the things that I’ve been very sad to see fall by the wayside due to COVID were events for Remembering Srebrenica Scotland. I was supposed to lead a delegation of Scottish educators to Bosnia last April, and we’ve had to put this on hold until we’re able to travel again. My colleagues at RSS, especially Marsaili Fraser and Robert McNeil, put a huge amount of effort into curating an exhibition at the Kelvingrove to mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica. I hope that their efforts will be available to the public in due course. I did manage to record a podcast with Jasmine Miller (who I’ve been privileged to work with on many different educational projects), and her full Srebrenica Stories series is well worth listening to.

The point of what we do at RSS is not to vilify any groups of people, but to challenge toxic ideology. We’ve seen far too much of that in 2020, and the recent events on Capitol Hill show that misinformation and demagoguery holds the capacity to rip apart the fabric of civil society. We are in the midst of a struggle to establish the values that we want for the future, and I sincerely hope that the consequences of the death of George Floyd will lead to the better angels of humankind rising above our demons. If we are going to live in a world that is just and fair, we need to see diversity as strength, and build a culture that actively celebrates it, and doesn’t just acknowledge it. As one of my colleagues says, tolerance is a weak virtue. Let’s take allyship forward this year, and champion the causes that matter. 

Professional learning – a golden age?

One of the definite silver linings of the past year has been a flourishing of professional learning. I ran a series with Mark Healy called the Professional Learning Gaitherin’, which brought together some of the leading voices in Scottish education to give weekly talks and twitter chats each Saturday morning during the summer term. It developed a strong following and it’s been interesting to see people watching these long after the series came to an end. A key feature is that the PL Gaitherin’ was free, and the same applied to excellent collections produced by researchEd Home and the Teacher Development Trust, and new events like ScotEd 2020 (you can find me at the end, but you’re much better off starting at the beginning). Some have called this a ‘golden age’ of professional learning, which is correct in the sense of the opportunities out there, but perhaps less accurate in that teachers struggled to engage with anything beyond upskilling on technology. Still, the legacy is there and I hope 2021 allows people more opportunity to become research informed in their practice. 

Coming out of the curve

There will be a post-COVID world in which there will be incredible opportunities. I’m trying to use any spare energy and time to plan for that world, because it will be a unique moment in time in which we can capitalise on the gains that we have undoubtedly made. I’m genuinely excited by that, and what I’ve written above shows, I hope, that it has never been more important to be involved in education. As Tom Paine said, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again”. Let’s get it right this time.

Further reflective reading

Nurture 20/21 – Jill Berry

Pride After A Fall – Lena Carter

Bookmark of Bookmarked Nothing Fails Like Success⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Bookmarked Nothing Fails Like Success by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Read Write Collect)
Jeffery Zeldman argues that in being unable to pay mortgage associated with the web, we have become indebted to the mob that is platform capitalism. This has led us into the money trap, which demands unrealistic rewards that care more about clicks than community. Zeldman’s suggestion on how to fix...

Aaron points to Nothing Fails Like Success (A List Apart).  

Aaron links to several fellow travellers reactions that make great reading too.

Aaron’s own blogging has gone a long way along the IndieWeb path and is a excellent one to follow.

A feed for my microcast⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

As part of my summer holiday fun with WordPress I though I might create a ‘proper’ RSS feed for my microcast.

There are quite a few podcast plugins that would do the job but I though it might be interesting to try a bit of DIY.

Back when I started a class podcast at Radio Sandaig I used to create the RSS feed by hand with a text editor and a fair bit of copy and paste. Over at Edutalk we use feedburner to massage the feed for iTunes.

I used information from How to Roll Your Own Simple WordPress Podcast Plugin | CSS-Tricks to get me started with the template.

I copied the feed-rss2.php file from the wp-includes folder to my child theme folder renaming it feed-microcast.php

wp-content/themes/sempress-child/feed-microcast.php

I adjusted the query to get the posts from my microcast category. I also hard coded the title, link, image and a few other things to simplify the process a little.

I then used the template from CSS-Tricks as a guide to adding the various podcast tags to my template.

This ended up with a pretty broken feed, mostly due to my lack of care, but I fixed it up later I got it linked up.

I didn’t want to use the custom post type approach used in the article because that would involve editing all the old posts or converting them to the new type somehow.

My first idea was to create a feed template and switch to that when the RSS feed for my microcast category was called for.

After failing to get the template to switch for the standard category feed, /category/microcast/feed I ended up with a custom feed at /feed/microcast.

and I add

add_action('init', 'customRSS');
function customRSS(){
        add_feed('microcast', 'customRSSFunc');
}

function customRSSFunc(){
        get_template_part('feed', 'microcast');
}

to my functions.php file.

I then spent a bit of time using the W3C feed validation service until I fixed the feed up to valadate.

I’ve still got to get a link to the feed into the microcast category page head tag and I hope to do that as soon as I’ve gone a bit of research. For now I’ve a link in the sidebar.

Here is the template: WordPress RSS feed template for my microcast

Online (educational) community, micro.blog and #DS106 thoughts⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I am finding micro.blog a really interesting community.

From an educational POV the most positive experience and the one that I would like to see replicated (in Glow and elsewhere) is #DS106.

DS106 influences the way I think about ScotEduBlogs and the way I built two Glow Blogging Bootcamps 1.

In particular these sites aggregate participants content but encourage any comments and feedback to go on the originators site.

Micro.blog is making me rethink this a little, there you can comment on micro.blog (the same as the blog hub in DS106) and that comment gets sent as a webmention to the originators site. This makes thinks a lot easier to carry through.

Micro.blog also provides the equivalent of the #ds106 twitter hashtag but keeps that in the same space as the hub/rss reader.

Manton recently wrote:

Micro.blog will never be that big. What we need instead of another huge social network is a bunch of smaller platforms that are built on blogs and the open web.

from: Manton Reece – Replacing 1 billion-user platforms

Which made me think.

Firstly it reinforces how Manton really thinks hard about making micro.blog a brilliant place, avoiding the pitfalls of huge silos.

Secondly it speaks to idea of multiple social networks. Imagine if DS106 and ScotEdublogs where both platforms in this sense, I could join in either or both along with others using my blog to publish. I could decide which posts of mine to send to which community, and so on.

It is the same idea I’ve had for Glow blogs since I started working with them 2.

Class blogs could join in and participate in different projects.

It would be easy to start a local or national project and pull together content and conversation from across the web into one learning space. Although I’ve spoken and blogged a lot about this idea I don’t think I’ve made it stick in the minds of many Scottish educators. I wish I could.

  1. Blogging Bootcamp spring 2015 & Blogging Bootcamp #2 Autumn 2015 . I believe the potential for these sorts of educational activity is much underused in primary and secondary education. I wish I was in the position to organise and design more of these…
  2. For example:

Adventures in micro blogging part 1⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I signed up for the kickstarter of micro.blog, it went live earlier this week.

Micro.blog is a new social network for independent microblogs.
Start a microblog today. Easy to publish, own your content, great cross-posting.

Micro.blog

The service is very new and so far has changed and developed every day.

The idea is, you publish short posts, these are mirrored on micro.blog/yourusername via RSS. The posts can be from any RSS feed. You can get a micro.blog hosted blog at yourusername.micro.blog or use your own hosting.

The micro.blog iOS app will post to your micro.blog blog or your own WordPress blog. Or you can use your own system. There is a microblog bot that will post your posts on to Twitter too.

The difference between the hosted blog and your micro.blog/username stream is a mite confusing at the moment. I wonder if a different domain name might have helped.

Both the hosted blog and the twitter bot are paid for options. The docs make it clear that you can host your own and point to IFTTT as an alternative to the bot.

The system follows the indieweb principle of controlling your own content and sending it on to other spaces.

Replies on micro.blog to your posts are sent as webmentions to your own blog and show up as comments if you have the webmention plugin installed. I had that already to get twitter replies as comments.

My setup

I’ve added a new category here, micro. I’ve edited the blog to not have posts with this category show on the home page, they show on micro instead.

I set the micro.blog app to create posts with the status format in the micro category.

I turned off the jetpack social posting to Twitter function. I’ll manually post normal posts. I’ve set up a micro.blog bot to post to Twitter.

The service is very much a work in progress, and I’ve not really read the docs but I’ve noticed a few interesting things.

titleless

On is that the posts on micro.blog consist of descriptions with no titles. When you post form the app, you get a post on your blog without a title. A post with a title on your blog is posted as a link to micro.blog. With a post without out a title the description becomes the content of the micro.blog post.

That means you get lots of posts listed in your dashboard as ‘no title’. Since I didn’t like this I tried to auto add titles to posts without titles with a little Google-fu and some WordPress coding.

This worked out fine, except the posts on micro.blog consist of a title and a link, the tweet posted by the twitter bot is the same.

I am now looking to create a custom RSS feed without title. More googling ahead.

Alternatively I could use the code from Tweaks for micro.blog that adds dates as titles, micro.blog ignore these.

Or just learn to live with ‘no title’ posts in the dashboard.

Me on Micro.blog

Preparing for the microblog is a lot more coherent than this post if you are looking for setup advice.

I’ll post the code I’ve mentioned above at some point, it is pretty simple stuff.

The Return of YouTube RSS⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

I just read this on OLDaily ~ by Stephen Downes in my RSS reader.

Points to

apparently YouTube has decided to allow users to follow channels via RSS again,

from: YouTube has (apparently) reinstated RSS feeds – BiteofanApple

It seems to work, Ive aded my own channel to my RSS reader, Inoreader, and it worked fine. Tested in a wordpress sidebar widget and here using the RSS Via Shortcode for Page & Post WordPress Plugins

[rssonpage rss="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc0gdVM7MLneoiJHp4HUqkA" feeds="4" excerpt="summary" target="_blank"]

Gives me links to my last 4 videos.

The feeds seem to lack description, inoreader (and I’d guess other RSS readers) pick up the video from the media:content tag (I’d guess).

This could be useful for bringing content together with other feeds. Perhaps YouTube will bring back tags too…

    Raspberry River⤴

    from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

    Image cropped from public domain flickr image: Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) ...

    I’ve been following the work of Dave Winer for a while now. His pioneering work with RSS, blogging and podcasting is central to my use of the web. I’ve even dipped my toes into and blogged about Fargo his outliner tool a few times, I tried myword.io a couple too.

    The product I am most interested in was the Rivers project. This is a take on RSS readers, where you view collections of RSS in a stream, rather than a folder structure.

    In the past I set up River3 and River4. These products really need a server that goes a bit further than web hosting. I had some working locally but this was not ideal. The instructions for using the previous version of River tended to involve Amazon Web Services and a server elsewhere.

    River5

    River5 changes all of this, it is designed to keep everything in the same place, one server. The only difficulty is that it requires a server running node.

    This is pretty simple to set up locally on a mac. You need to use the terminal. You install node. Then you follow the instructions on the River5 github page and you are away.

    What is very nice indeed is that you can add feeds you want to read in several different formats opml (handy for export from other RSS readers), json and plain text. There is a set of example feeds provided that will let you see everything is working.

    I wanted to be able to have the rivers running all the time and be accessible from other computers. For that I need a server that I could install and run node on. Turns out I have one, john’s pi server. That sits on my window sill mostly taking pictures of the sky. It was running a twitter bot but that is broken at the moment.

    Setting up River5 on a Raspberry Pi

    I do most things on my pi via the terminal on a mac or iPad, suing ssh to logon.

    I had installed node on the pi a while back.

    Download the latest:
    wget http://node-arm.herokuapp.com/node_latest_armhf.deb

    then install:

    sudo dpkg -i node_latest_armhf.deb

    I seem to have done that a while back when I was failing to get something else up and running.

    All I need to do to get River5 installed was to download the files from github and upload them to the pi with scp.
    I then unzipped them went into the folder and ran these two commands:

    npm install

    node river5.js

    This set everything up, a plie of stuff streams by in the terminal and all looked ok. (I had problems the first time I tried but an update came out immediately that fixed things for Linux servers. I got a very quick response on the River5 Forum).

    My Pi already has a sub domain so I visited http://pi.johnj.info:1337 and could see the rivers flowing with Dave’s Feeds.

    I’ve now removed the original ones and replace them with lists of feeds of my own.

    Rivers Forever

    After that I went to bed, next morning I tried the link and it was down. The problem is I need to keep the application up and running even when I am not logged onto the server. I recalled reading on Dave’s blog about Forever. As usual google found the instructions to install and use: Keep a node.js server up with Forever.

    This is pretty simple you install Forever with:

    sudo npm install forever

    npm is a package manager for JavaScript so it installs stuff.

    After it is installed we can start up the river5 with:
    forever start river5.js and it keeps going.

    Mine has been running for a few days now on the pi without any problems.I’ve been enjoying an alternative view of some of my RSS feeds. My next steps are probably to move things around a bit so that I don’t relay on the built in node server, and can pull the river json over to here.

    I am pretty amazed by the ease of doing this. The software has been made to be very easy to install and the Raspberry Pi turns out to be a very capable wee box.

    RSS is an Answer⤴

    from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

    Last evening I noticed on twitter:

    And jumped in without thinking too much.

    Rich (@richardtape) was providing drop in support on a Google Hangout. Rich works at University of British Columbia which is, of course, organizing the Teaching with WordPress course I am trying to follow.

    I had, for a short while, the floor to myself. Unfortunately I made poor use of the time, my teacup was too full. Rich was extremely patient and told me the answer to my problem several times, I just didn’t notice. Hopefully I’ve learned a lesson for the next time I have a similar opportunity (hoping against experience here).

    The problem is the one described in the previous post. To display a question/assignment/challenge post along with responses to that post. Christina solved it with the loop shortcode plugin. We do not have that plugin on GlowBlogs.

    Five Thirty am Enlightenment

    After mulling over the problem in bed this morning I suddenly listened to Rich again. He had repeatedly told me the best way to do this would be RSS but I had focused on plugins and facilities we do not have (yet?) in GlowBlogs.

    So the way I would solve this in Glow blogs would be to use RSS widgets, to pull in responses. These responses would be on the same blog as the questions (but could be pulled in with the syndication plugin, or on another blog that does the aggregation). The widget would only be displayed on the post with the question as it would have a unique category. The responses would have a unique category or tag.

    Here is a quick example: Challenge 2 Red.

    On that post you can see the challenge (show something red). In the sidebar there is a widget showing a list of posts tagged red. This only shows up on the challenge page. I’ve added some information to the post to give more details.

    There are a couple of drawbacks to this method.

    1. It is a bit fiddly for the person setting up the challenge. They need to create a widget per challenge and a category per challenge.
    2. The RSS update is not immediate. A WordPress query would be better.

    I would be interested in using it for something like the bootcamp and see how it goes.