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    Jared Bennett 8:27 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Twitter Curator 

    Those of you familiar with Storify might want to look into a new (to me) service offered by Twitter living at

    It allows users to query Twitter and create embedable collections of Tweets that can be shared in spaces just like this:


    Thanks to @acarpino for prompting the discovery.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 4:08 pm on November 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Giving Everyone A Little Jetpack 

    Jetpack is a plugin we’ve been running on a number of different blogs for some time now. It adds some additional functionality usually only reserved for bloggers using the service. Some of you may have it activated on your site already. We’ve developed a way to give everyone access to some of the modules in Jetpack. Staff will be able to extend that functionality by going into Settings/General and toggling on the “Enable Jetpack functionality? ” which will open up the option to sign in with a username and password (separate from your Commons login) and add more modules.

    What this does is allows us to use Jetpack with students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to sign up for a username because of age restrictions, and allows staff to take advantage of the service on their blog if they want to add additional items.

    If you were previously signed in and are now seeing an Development Mode notice in the Jetpack settings, simply go into Settings/General and turn your JetPack back on.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 9:49 pm on October 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Additional Download Functionality Added to Google Drive Embed Tools 

    Now — in addition to being able to upload content straight from your Google Drive and embed it on your blog — you can offer your users the option of downloading that file so they can store it elsewhere.

    This is is great if you are sharing a template you need your users to further edit or save in their own cloud storage account.

    Thanks as always to our amazing developer Ray Hoh, and to @trooth for the suggestion.

    Of course we love to share, and believe that a great way to teach students how to code in the real world is by modelling, and providing access to real world examples. So if you are interested in seeing the code, or are hosting your own WordPress community, you can find the latest version of this on our Github.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 12:51 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

    Google Drive Integration 

    I am ridiculously excited about this new functionality on the Commons, which allows a seamless link between your Google Drive and your Blog. Now students can use Google Drive to collaborate on work, and then publish it to their blog.

    This will be particularly helpful from an iPad, where locating the embed code of a Google Document was cumbersome.

    Here’s the instructions:

    Once we are done testing this in our environment, we will open source it to the WordPress community. As always, if you find glitches, reach out here.

    • Profile photo of lward

      lward 4:58 pm on November 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Jared! When I try to add Google drive I keep getting “there was an error connecting to google drive”.

      • Profile photo of jarbenne

        jarbenne 10:58 am on November 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Hi @lward. I’ve seen that issue on occasion when people are logged into more than one Google Drive (example: a personal gmail account and the board google account in the same browser.) Could this perhaps apply?

        If so — and for anyone else reading along — you can create a private (Firefox) or incognito (Chrome) window and try again. This will create a window where you aren’t logged in at all, and should then take you to the login page for Google when you attempt to connect your account again.

        Let me know if that works.

    • Profile photo of lward

      lward 12:47 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately still not having any luck! I’ve tried in Firefox, incognito on Chrome. School computer and iPad.
      Does it have anything to do with when we initially sign it, it asks can HWDSB Commons have access to your Google account? You need to click accept or deny. Deny will not let you into the account where with Accept you can proceed. Has this somehow linked the accounts making it hard to connect Google Drive??

      I appreciate all your help :)

      • Profile photo of jarbenne

        jarbenne 12:51 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Are you clicking deny? You need to accept. Although the “app” we use to log in is completely separate from the connection to Drive to upload content into a blog post. Let me investigate this further.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 3:04 pm on September 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Working with Calendars 

    The Events Calendar and Events Calendar Pro plugins add a calendar to your website. A third plugin, called The Events Calendar – iCalendar Importer allows you to feed your blog with a calendar from another source. I’ve created an Elementary and Secondary Calendar with all of the board holidays and PD Days, along with the rotary days, at this link:




    In the HUB, you can grab an ics link by clicking on the Subscribe button under your Course Calendar. By default that feed contains all of the information from all of the courses you our your student (whomever is logged in) has access to, but if you are feeding a blog, you might want to click the Drop Down menu on that Subscription window and select a specific course. This will automatically add events like due dates created through the Dropbox tool, not only onto your calendar within the HUB, but on your calendar on your blog as well.


    Alternatively, you can now import events into your course in the HUB using the Import Events button. This button will take an .ics file. Unlike the Commons, the HUB won’t accept a URL, so you will have to manually update the calendar on occasion. Open the first link I’ve shared here in a browser, and save it to your Desktop to get an .ics file you can import into your course.

    If you import this today, you’ll notice that the feed ends around March. This is a event number limitation with the Outlook calendar feed, which will slowly rectify itself as we move closer to the end of the year.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 8:27 am on June 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Purge the Subscriber List 

    It’s the end of another school year. This seems like a good time to clean up the subscriber list on your blog so it’s ready for a fresh batch of parents in September.

    Some of you will just need to go into the dashboard and click the Subscriptions menu to remove them all. Others may be running an older subscription service: here’s how to clear that one:

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 4:53 pm on June 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Archiving and Clean up 

    Those of you looking to archive your work this year, particularly in cases where your classroom blog isn’t a record of your own learning as much as it is a portfolio of learning experiences from your current students, might want to take a look at this video, that details the process of taking your blog and exporting it into an ebook keepsake for parents.

    This BlogCleanUp PDF provides a detailed tutorial on how to sort through and clean up the digital wing of your classroom.

    Students should leave their blog as a record of their ongoing learning here at HWDSB. Don’t delete any of that great work!

    Have a great summer.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 11:31 pm on June 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: moderation, ,   

    Don’t Flag this Post as Inappropriate 

    Those of you with blogs will notice a new functionality that allows users to flag posts and comments on the site as inappropriate. This has always been an option on the main site, and we are now extending it to all of the sites on the Commons. Only logged in users see the option to flag content. When an item is flagged, the 21CL team is notified, along with anyone who holds the admin role on the blog on which the content exists. We’ve also enhanced these notifications so that they not only send an email, but also result in a message in the top toolbar: this is particularly useful for our members who aren’t checking email regularly, but are logging into the Commons and noting their unread notification alerts.

    Some of you may have noticed these emails populating your inbox. There are two types:

    • One that indicates that something you have posted has been identified by someone else as inappropriate
    • One that indicates that an item on the blog you are the administrator on has been flagged

    Please speak to your students about what constitutes content that should be flagged. As always, if you have questions, comment away.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 4:21 pm on June 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    A New Look for the Learning Network 

    In an effort 2015-06-03_17-14-53to make the Learning Community easier to navigate, We’ve updated the theme. The biggest change you will notice is the new sidebar navigation layout. In the previous theme all of the menu items on your profile were located at the top, beneath your avatar. Each of the main navigational elements (Activity, Profile, Sites, Notifications, etc.) had an associated sub-menu that appeared as a smaller font below below. Now those main elements are available on the left, with the sub-menu populating across the top in a way that highlights the main features and provides better separation between elements.

    In the comments below, let us know below what you think of the new layout, or if you come across anything that looks out-of-sorts, let us know that too.

  • Profile photo of jarbenne

    Jared Bennett 10:49 am on June 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply


    If you think your blog needs a bit of a change, I’ve just uploaded 4 new themes to the Commons to give your site a bit of a refresh. You can go into Appearance/Themes and preview how the new themes would look on your site. If you want to see an example populated with content, here’s a few links to demo sites using the new themes over on





    There are a few themes reaching the end of their life, and will need to be retired from the Commons theme repository. Specifically Chapters, Crisp, Editorial, Slanted are starting to look their age, and don’t meet our current code standards. If you are using those themes, I would head over to the Theme repository and try something new on for size.

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