Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekend Workshop - Download Your Blog

I Tweeted about this yesterday and someone replied looking for directions on how to download the contents of  a blog. Below I've included directions for downloading the contents of Blogger blogs and WordPress blogs.  It's a good idea to download the content of your blog from time to time. That way if something bad happens to your blog, you will have the majority of your content saved in a format that you can access.

(Click on the images below to see them full size and read the details contained within them).

Backing-up Blogger blogs.
Step 1: Sign into your Blogger dashboard and select the "settings" tab.

Step 2: Select "export blog."

Step 3: Select "download blog." Save the file to your desktop or other location on your computer.

In the new Blogger interface the process is the same, but the "export" link is harder to find.

Backing-up Edublogs blogs.
Step 1: Sign into your dashboard and select "tools" menu.

Step 2: Open tools menu and choose export.

Step 3: Download export file. Save file to your local drive.

Backing-up blogs.
The process for backing-up a blog is the same as it is for backing-up an Edublogs blog. The only difference will appear in the third step where you'll be presented with more options for filtering the types of content you want to export.

What to do with blog back-up files.
If you ever decide to change blog platforms you should be able to import the xml files created by Blogger, Edublogs, and into a new blog. You can also use the xml files to create a PDF of your blog using Blog Booker. Turning your students' blog(s) into a PDF book at the end of a semester or year could be good way for them and or their parents to see how much they've written in your class.

While you're backing-up your blog's content, it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure you have back-up copies of some of your other important files. If you have things saved in Google Docs, select "download" from the "file" menu when you have a file open. If you're interested in creating back-up copies of files that you only have offline, try using Drop Box or Sugar Sync to save copies online. You can read about Drop Box here and Sugar Sync here.

How To Share The Blog Posts You Like

It's been more than a year since I addressed this topic and since it's something that I and a handful of others in the edu-blog-o-sphere have dealt with this week, I think it's time to talk about how to share blog posts that you like.

We all come across blog posts that we want to share with our colleagues and friends. The tools that I use for sharing are Twitter and Google+. And if I see a blog post that I really like I'll share information about it here on Free Technology for Teachers but I never republish someone else's blog post in its entirety. I don't republish another person's posts because that is plagiarism even if I put a link to the source. I don't have permission to republish someone's entire work and if I do that I will be violating someone's copyright rights.

What to do if you want to share someone's blog post(s).
Unfortunately, this week I've seen a rash of blogs created by well-meaning educators who are republishing entire posts from my blog and a few others. Generally, in these cases when I ask those people why they have copied and pasted someone else's content, the answer is something along the lines of "well the content is good and I want my teachers to be able to find it all in one place." I understand those peoples' desire to centralize content, but copying and pasting entire blog posts of someone else is not the correct way to do it. It's not correct for at least two reasons. First, it's plagiarism. Second, whether they run ads or not and whether they admit it or not, bloggers love page views. We love to see how many people are coming to our blogs. And by lifting entire posts, you're denying us those page views we crave.

In some cases of blog plagiarism the infringing party will blame it on using an "auto posting" service that grabs RSS feeds. If you use an "auto posting" service to steal other people's work it's not the technology's fault! It's you're fault for not using the technology properly. When a car is stolen we don't blame the Slim Jim that was used in breaking into the car, we blame the person using the Slim Jim.

Sue Waters has some great words of wisdom about this issue too. One of the things that Sue points out is that while the web is all about sharing, it's also important to respect the time and effort that a person puts into his or her blog posts. I encourage you to read all of Sue's comments here.

So then if you are trying to collate good information to share with your colleagues what is an appropriate way to do it? One way to do it is to use the title and perhaps a few sentences of the blog post then place a "read more" link to direct readers to the actual source and full content. Another appropriate way to collate and distribute many blog posts is to place an RSS feed widget in the sidebar of your blog. These widgets will automatically update with blog post titles and the beginning of the new articles when your favorite blogs update.

RSS feed widgets will accomplish two things for you. First, once you've set-up and installed the widget you won't have to go to each blog individually to find the latest updates. Second, RSS feed widgets will provide the links to the direct sources of each article so that your visitors can read and comment on the original author's words.

Where can you get one of these RSS feed widgets? If you're using Blogger, there is a built-in capacity for this. To add and display the RSS feeds of other blogs select "design" from your Blogger dashboard, choose "add gadget," then select "blog list." The blog list gadget will prompt you to add the urls of your favorite blogs. If you're using for your blog here's another widget you can try. Finally, Robin Good has a long list of tools and widgets that you can use to syndicate RSS feeds. and Diigo and Diigo are great tools for organizing your favorite finds. Both services offer auto-posting to your blog. These tools are good for sharing blog posts because you can publish the title, link, and a couple of sentences about the blog posts that you read everyday.

CNN Student News Looks to Summer

This morning is the last morning that CNN Student News will have an episode until August 13, 2012. In part of today's episode CNN Student News takes a look ahead at stories to watch over the summer. And to  review the year, you can give the end of the year news quiz a try.

8 Infographics for Visualizing the Environment is a community site for people who create infographics and for people who just want to view and organize infographics. members can upload infographics that they create and or organize collections of infographics that they find. Think of it as being a bit like YouTube for infographics if you got rid of all of the crazy cat videos.

This morning on I found a collection of eight infographics for visualizing the environment. I've included one from the collection below.

Booktype - Open Source Digital Publishing

Booktype is an open source program for creating ebooks and preparing them for distribution on Kindle and iBooks. Booktype is designed for collaborative use by a group of writers. You can update your books and redistribute them even after your initial publishing date.

Booktype, the open source publishing platform. from Sourcefabric on Vimeo.

To clarify, Booktype is not a service it's an open source program that you can download and install on your own server. If you have the skills to manage it, Booktype could be a good in-house solution for digital publishing.