Monday, 27 July 2015

Feedwind – create a scrolling RSS feed widget from multiple content sources

The tool of the week is Feedwind which is a free RSS widget that adds dynamic content from multiple RSS feeds from various sources utilising filters to focus on your preferred topics or keywords.
An RSS feed allows you to receive updates from various sources that is directly delivered to you without having to visit those websites.
In this blog I will show you how you can add an RSS feed in your Moodle module, meaning that you can have dynamic content that is changing on a regular basis in your module. Please remember that the frequency of the RSS feeds depend on how regular the source is updated, so choose a website that is active!

Create your widget

1. Obtain RSS feed or URL address
Copy the RSS feed link or the URL address of the website that you wish to create a RSS feed from. For example on the BBC new website you will find the RSS feed link on the right hand side of the page:

Clicking the RSS News Feed will take you to the RSS feed page from where you can copy the link from the URL address bar:

2. Add the feed
Navigate to and paste the copied link into the Feed URL field and then click the Add Feed button:

In the above example I used the generic SOAS website and Feedwind was clever enough to pick up the news feed from the webpage

3. General settings
Feedwind has whole host customisable options for your widget from specifying the widget size, font settings, if want a scroll bar or auto scroll, adding image thumbnails and more:

4. Feed Title
This setting allows you to manually enter a title for your feed to replace the one that is created automatically as well as setting an image and background colour:

5. Preview
As you amend the settings Feedwind creates an almost instant preview of how the widget will look:

6. Copy widget code
Copy the HTML code for you widget (situated under the widget preview):

Add widget to Moodle

1. Navigate to your Moodle course and switch to editing mode.

2. Select HTML from the dropdown menu in Add a Block:

3. You will notice a New HTML Block has appeared on your course. Click on the actions icon and select Configure (New HTML Block) Block:

4. Enter a title for the HTML block and then click on the edit HTML source icon < >.

5. Paste the copied HTML code from Feedwind in the pop up HTML source editor box and then click the Update button:

6. Click the Save changes button to finish. You will now see the widget populated with content from your selected website:

Final thoughts
For those of you who are regular readers of this blog will remember I wrote a blog post back in April for another RSS feed creator called Page2RSS which offered a simple solution to create RSS feeds for webpages however it lacked in offering RSS subscriptions. I feel Windfeed takes that extra step to offer something that is more dynamic, eye catching and customisable.
If you are not already using RSS feeds in your courses or website why not give Windfeed a try to see how your Moodle pages could be freshened up?

Twitter: @SOASBLETech

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