SPLOT Fest – Story Forker using Gravity Forms

One of the things I love about my little community of people is the in-process sharing1 of work. Alan is a master of this and he puts in serious work.2 In an attempt to give a little bit of energy back I present you a very rough version of the LPC3 SPLOT Story Brancher. To get at the roots of this idea, go read Alan’s initiating post. Alan’s making little web tools that don’t require logins and are focused on doing one small thing well (smallest possible online learning tools). Alan is capable of doing far more coding than I can so I tend to try to compensate by choosing non-programistan paths. This proof of concept took about 10 minutes this morning and probably shows that but it might inspire some deeper thoughts down the road. This is a quick and dirty example of how Gravity Forms would enable you to- create one form that enables the duplication/forking of whatever post it is in w/o requiring user login/account or creating new forms have the option to do some sort of incremental titling trackback to the parent post automatically for some sort of x begat y begat z etc. etc. navigation Get the Body This is the only code-ish piece. The gist below, added to your theme’s functions.php file, takes the […]

Gravity Forms Black Magic

Gravity Forms makes my list of Non-Programistan tools. I haven’t seen quite enough posts celebrating the fact that Gravity Forms can do magic. The key feature at the moment that is kind of blowing my mind is the ability to use modifiers on the submissions fields— the ability to have the label (what the user sees/answers) be one thing and the value be something entirely different. It has the potential to enable some SPLOT like activities without the coding on the tool maker end1 . . . I know that sounds like nonsense but just follow me a bit . . . It’s easy to miss the checkbox that turns on the values. You can see it in the fairly annoying GIF above. The cool thing is you can put virtually anything in the value field- images, HTML chunks etc. This plus the ability to create content templates2 gives you the ability to have user form interactions create some fairly sophisticated content.3 In this example the user selects “Awesome” as the answer to a question and the form would record that AND the following HTML (stored as the value for that answer) The part where this starts to come together is in the construction of a post using the content template option. You get options detailed in the image below. […]

Embed Google Drive Folder in WordPress

>>>>>You can find an updated version here. As WordPress and Google Drive continue to blend in a variety of ways the desire to embed the contents of Google Drive folders has come up a few times. I found this Stack Overflow post a while back and had been using it myself. But in an attempt to get around iframe issues and make it a little friendlier I wrote a quick and dead simple plugin today. It seems to do the trick . . . Directions Assuming the plugin is installed and activated . . . Go to Google Docs. Get the unique ID for the folder you want to embed- seen in the highlighted portion of the URL in the image below. Then paste it between the shortcodes like so . . . and you get a nice little window that acts as a live interactive portal to the folder.

Geo Tagging WordPress

First, go try it out if you want. Submit something. It’ll help it make more sense. I thought this would be a lot easier than I made it. I tried lots of paths and considered spending various amounts of money to make this easier. Please benefit (probably) from my wandering. I try to link in where I learned different things and, more importantly, I tried to emphasize vocabulary that might be useful to you. My goal1 was to- have a Google2 Map interface that auto-located the device allow the user to drag the marker to adjust the location plot the resulting WordPress posts on a map To make this work you do need a Google Maps API3 key and on the WordPress side you’ll need the Gravity Forms (Costs money but worth it) and Geo Mashup (free) plugins. Gravity Forms will let you create posts via a form and provision form elements via URL parameters. Geo Mashup is the friendliest way I found to display posts on a Google Map based on lat/long parameters associated with the post. Auto Locate I went to a few different places for this but ended up finding/using the handy example posted in the Google Maps API documentation. It took me a while to get there- “geolocation” is the key term. Add it to your […]

Pre-Filling Forms via URL

I have to figure out a rather unpleasant and boring thing. I am, however, learning some fairly odd and interesting tricks as a result. This is one that might be useful to someone. Google Forms You can pre-fill Google form entries with a URL. That might be useful if you had 720 students in groups of 6 reviewing one another but didn’t want to build a form with 720 student names or build a 120 forms with 6 student names. I don’t think I’m going to end up using this for this purpose1 but maybe it’ll prove useful to someone else and it’s dead simple. Step one – Build your form. Step two – Go to Responses in the Form Editor view and select “Get pre-filled URL”. You then fill out the form the way you want and it creates the URL. In this case, I’m filling out a multiple choice question and a free form text entry. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1P5_6vTv53MEKCEjd87xecI483goNqDg1-nPlFH84Mz0/viewform?entry.1615031756=Bob+Smith&entry.1012634392=I,+for+one,+have+always+admired+the+number+two. Now, you might wonder what would happen if in the URL you set a multiple choice answer to something not available as an option- like ‘Freddy Kruger’ for the first field in the form. I wondered that. It just comes up blank in the spreadsheet.2 Sadly, as I mucked around I couldn’t come up with a decent way to hide the […]

FacetWP – a semi-tutorial

I don’t usually usually pay for WordPress plugins but this is one I’ve come to like1 quite a bit. To start off, I have a historic interest in facet based searching. It is one of the main things that continues to appeal to me about Exhibit (one of the earlier javascript based tool libraries aimed at non-developers). I’ve looked at a lot of different options to make that kind of thing work for WordPress over the last 5 to 7 years.2 This is by far the best option I’ve found. Why I Like It You can see all the bells and whistles on the demo page. The brass tacks version is that it allows you create a variety of guided search options and create custom page templates with or without the search pieces. I’ve used it personally and on rampages in a few slightly different ways. Here it is just using the custom display (no search) to show 3rd Space related images and I’ve used it to do something similar on this page with posts from my blog in the ‘Photography’ category.3 On this site, it’s allowing faceted searching based on tags created by students through a Gravity Form. Another example that’s using two facets (date and work type) based on parent/child category relationships to sort out my work. Given […]

Troubleshooting Patterns

I got an email from a professor who was using Gravity Forms to allow students to create blog posts. The problem was that when they submitted posts via the form the category ended up being the default category no matter what was selected. Here’s a few of the things I did trying to figure out what was going on. It’s just a matter of isolating variables but occasionally it’s helpful to see how people work through this sort of thing. First, I googled it but that well was dry.1 I made sure the Gravity Forms category selection worked on other sites on the same installation. It did. That let me know it was at least blog dependent. There were only two other plugins active. They were both turned on and off with no change. That meant no plugin conflicts. On the input side, I tried selecting multiple categories. No dice. I tried changing the default category. It change the default category but didn’t fix the issue. I couldn’t think of any more input based variables to mess with so I moved a bit deeper into things. On the form side, I tried changing the category selection options. I tried using checkboxes, multiple select, all categories, select categories etc. None of that made any difference. I copied the form to see […]

Sociological Theorists WordPress Site

Our Sociology Department Chair, Jennifer Johnson, is out there leading the way for the Sociology Department at VCU. She’s not only thinking through how syndication will impact the design of their entire program and curriculum (online and off), she’s also teaching a course on Sociological Theory in a way that shows how student work can interweave in interesting ways. There is a real focus on interaction between undergraduate and graduate students and the idea that the student work will be centered around the theorists themselves. The site reflects a number of those choices and it’s going to be fun to watch it grow. They’ve already got upwards of 90 posts and we haven’t even finished the second full week of classes. The site is a basic mother blog setup with a few tweaks. You’ll notice the landing page is a basic grid layout with the theorists images linking to the categories. So the Max image links to http://rampages.us/sociologicaltheory/category/marx/.1 Most themes don’t really encourage this particular layout. There are plugins that will allow you to give categories “Featured Images” like posts have. In this case that felt like more trouble than it was worth as I’d also have to do some extra work to make the categories display the way I wanted. I figured someone smart had done a decent grid […]

The Mother Blog Primer

The Concept FeedWordPress is the plugin that allows us to create our “mother blogs.” Consider it an example of the “you are what you eat” concept. The “mother blog” is composed of the consumed feeds. FeedWordPress is our spoon. The mother takes all the student posts from their personal sites and unites them in one place. It helps answer 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? A Brief Overview of the Mechanics 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 […]


Field Botany Changed the World

Two pretty telling student quotes from the video1 above. “I was real excited that our blog is now an example for anyone. If you want to look up high bush clover you can look on one of our blogs and find our pictures.” “I think that knowing that the blog and the material would be accessible to anyone made the idea of putting it out there made the idea more exciting in some way but also I put more thought into it for that reason.” The Field Botany blog ended up with 3,675 posts from 27 students. That’s some pretty serious output. That content will remain accessible and the site can evolve2 with each iteration of the course. Two rather simple questions stay in my head lately. How can we have students do more than stairmaster work? – I’ve never cared for burning calories just to burn calories. I’d rather go somewhere. Even running in a circle is better than running in place. I can’t stop thinking about how much time and energy go into things that neither the student nor the teacher want. Since we can aggregate and archive student work, how does that change what we ask students to do? Student work can be valuable. It can add value in the context of other student work. It can […]