Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More to Come...

So many ideas of what I want to blog, such as what the students had to say about blogging in their final posts, suggestions for next year, connections we are making with other teachers for blogging projects next year, etc.

However, I'm packing for my move to the other side of the planet, and have guests visiting for the next two weeks. We are taking them to Bali and Cambodia. When they leave, I have four days to pack out and leave, so this blog is probably off line until early July, unless I get stalled at an airport with free internet on my 34 hour journey.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Small Bloglines Victory

After half a month of periodic putzing, I have finally figured out the correct way to export someone's shared subscriptions from Bloglines and import them into my desktop RSS reader.

The quest began when I wanted to grab Will Richard's Blogline of Edublog subscriptions. I was having fun exploring them through Will's shared Blogline, but since it wasn't my Blogline, I couldn't easily tell what I had and had not read.

The first problem arose when I clicked the Export Subscriptions at the end of the list of blogs. A bunch of source code appeared in the right frame on the screen. It was impressive to look at, and with my limited HTML coding background I could read it, see the subscription in the code, but I couldn't get it into my RSS reader.

I eventually figured I needed to use my browser's Save Page command to grab the file. However, I couldn't tell which file format to use, Web Page Complete, Web Page HTML file only, or text file. It began to feel like those tedious permutations problems from high school. "If there are three possible saving formats and four possible suffixes to end them with, how many different files is it possible to save? Will any of them actually be readable by NetNewsWire Lite?"

I tried lots of combinations of save options and suffixes, but never managed to find one that didn't produce a parse error having to do with the XML flat file. Go figure.

Today I finally got it right. I discovered that you save the subscriptions as Web Page Complete. That downloads a folder containing the following three objects:
  • public_display.xml
  • a folder titled public_subs_data
  • public_subs.html
Next from inside my RSS reader, I imported the public_display.xml file. That did the trick. However, I was surprised to discover that not all of the blogs listed on Will's Blogline were in the list of imported subscriptions. A bit of list comparing lead me to understand that the RSS reader was smart enough to not re-import blogs to which I already subscribed. Very handy.

Soon I'll be switching from my school laptop to a laptop generously loaned to me by a friend until I can get back to the US and buy a computer of my own. I appreciate how easy it is to export my RSS subscriptions from NetNewsWire and import them onto a different machine. Now that I have this blog-reading habit, I don't want to go without my daily blogfix.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Do Blogs Die or Just Fade Away?

Like so many teachers before us, Tammy and I now need to decide what happens to the blogs at the end of the year. Since this is not a Blogmeister account, there is no technical reason why the blogs must come to an end. And yet, we feel some responsibility to oversee these relatively young children who are exposed to the world through their blogs.

Tammy and I have decided to send a note home to the families, we will ask them to return a form indicating whether they are now going to assume responsibility for the blog or if it should be deleted at the end of the school year.

Part of me is sad at the thought of the blogs going away, both because of what we learned from them and from the community they built. I'd also like for them to stay available so that I could have my own students look at them next year before they start blogging, IF they start blogging.

Best of all would be if the students continued writing. Then I'd have a window into their lives as they moved on to middle school. I would like to see how the blogs changed away from teacher guidance and six-trait lessons. Would they degenerate into journals or would they continue to be a place where the students crafted their writing? I suspect the former rather than the latter.

And selfishly, having the blogs continue on would give me one more connection back to Malaysia when I'm trudging through the cold, dark days of Minnesota. Blogs-- stretching around the globe, keeping people connected. Gotta like that!