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What is it?

There are some real advantages to giving people their own space to create content. It allows them all kinds of options around personalization and ownership. There are also advantages to bringing people’s work together to help form a cohort and create community. A mother blog lets you do both. It answers questions like –

  • How can students work in their own sites and use them for multiple courses but still provide the class/cohort advantages of a central/standardized community hub?
  • How can I allow personalization but not go crazy going to 50 different student sites with different layouts?
  • Are there interesting ways I might reconsider the work students do if I can aggregate that work, can provide different lenses of focus, can keep it beyond the narrow confines of a course, and have other students use it in interesting ways?

Main Types

We tend to build two types of mother blogs. The most common is the course hub and it aggregates students posts (and/or outside expert voices- see Graphic Design Theory for an example of that kind of blending of outside voice.) from their own blogs in one spot. The other focus tends to have a larger programatic function (a program hub) focusing on uniting courses and students. This structure also supports integrative thinking.

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Examples by Discipline


A course on the Bollywood film industry, taught by an instructor based in Qatar with students from both campuses contributing blog posts Plugins Used Theme Flat Bootstrap

Like commonplace books in Early Modern Europe, this uncommonplace blog is where students taking ENGL 301, the Introduction to the English Major, collect and comment on things they’ve read that they want to remember. Plugins Used Feed WordPress Theme

  See it LIVE.

A ThoughtVectors course site. See it LIVE.

A ThoughtVectors course site. See it LIVE.

A ThoughtVectors course site. See it LIVE.

A ThoughtVectors course site. See it LIVE.

A ThoughtVectors UNIV200 section. See it LIVE.

One ThoughtVectors UNIV200 section. See it Live

Course Link


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The Basics

Some Tips

  • The child (source) blog needs to be public for this to work. If a child blog is set to Visible only to registered users of this network, Visible only to registered users of this site, or Visible only to administrators of this site then the feed won’t work. Here is how you change that.
  • Add /feed/ to the URLs you’re adding as children in the FeedWordPress panel. This will make your life easier.
  • You can use a Gravity Forms form or Google Form to gather the source URLs from students.
  • Want to add a list of authors and the number of posts in the sidebar? There’s a widget for that (and a video tutorial).
  • This works with posts. Pages don’t syndicate normally. That matters when you consider what you’re asking students to do.
  • Here are some student directions we’ve used that might also help things.

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Much More In-Depth FeedWordPress Discussions (from Alan Levine)

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