Since I began teaching during my final years as a graduate student in the late nineties I’ve been using a webpage to supplement my teaching. One of the things I’ve always striven to do is to include a “Geology in the News” box on my class webpages, to make the subject more tangible for those not accustomed to thinking about the role of geology in our daily lives.
Early on, that news box was just one more part of an entirely hand coded website, and I would post a new item every week or two, on average. Within a few semesters I was using phpBB on my homegrown websites in order to add a discussion component to the class. “Geology in the News” blurbs were, of course, excellent discussion board fodder.
Since coming to Fort Hays State University, I’ve modified my class websites to fit into the Blackboard template that the campus supports. By using Blackboard I was able to offer a password protected gradebook and automated quizzes (good); Blackboard’s Discussion Board feature replaced phpBB for discussions (good and bad); and Blackboard’s frames-based navigation system replaced my own PHP template-based system (ugly). The core webpages, including all of my lecture notes, syllabus, schedule, homework pages, etc. were all still my own HTML based external pages.
Starting in Fall 2005 I began using a WordPress blog to generate an RSS feed for lecture podcasts. At the same time I used the blog as a new avenue to post “Geology in the News” stories. I sensed that what I really wanted to do was to incorporate an RSS feed directly into my course homepage, but I couldn’t figure out any elegant hack to do this. (I’d still love to do this, if anyone knows a good method.)
If you’re interested in using my feed in your own page don’t hesitate to do so! If you need assistance in getting it set up, just ask and I’ll see what I can do. If you want to set up your own I’d also be glad to help. And if you’ve got an RSS feed or Google Reader Shared Items feed of your own that covers geology I’d love to hear about it!