Two years ago I experimented with blogging with my students. I enjoyed the results but not very much the process. I wrote a grant for a subscription to eduBlogs, which I hoped would streamline the process but in some ways it actually made it clunkier. So last year, I did not do blogging and stuck to more closed forms of writing (simple submissions to me).

As I was preparing for this year, I came across the blogging materials I had prepared and revisited the idea. It occurred to me that using IFTTT might address the clunkiness that I had experienced.

But before we get into the details, let’s review. If I teach 100 students and they’re all blogging, that’s 100 different web addresses I have to keep track of and visit to grade their work. For me, it’s less the clicking and more the keeping track. I know that I can collect those addresses (which I will anyway, as part of my student information form), but then I have to put that list somewhere and go there every time I want to check. Not to mention the consummate frustration of checking something that hasn’t been updated (this becomes especially cumbersome with late work; how do I know when it’s posted without checking? and if it’s not yet been posted, I’ve wasted time going there to check). I know too that I can subscribe to / follow students’ blogs, but that seems unnecessarily (if not completely impossible) onerous, especially when I can put the onus on them and diffuse that otherwise concentrated work.

IFTTT to the rescue. If you don’t know, IFTTT is an automator website (and the site stands for If This Then That). The plan then is for students to use IFTTT to generate an email to me every time they post to their blog. I can take those emails and grade them immediately or put them in my Grade folder to grade later. Either way, that’s a little less work for me on both ends, and I don’t have to go hunting for posts when I don’t know they’re there.

I’m a bit concerned about the technical side of it on the students’ end, but that’s never stopped me before. I made a tutorial video (below) and I’ll of course walk them through it in the first few days of school.

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