Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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How to add a twitter feed to Moodle

Posted: Sep 12, 2012 15:09;
Last Modified: Sep 12, 2012 15:09

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Like many Digital Humanists, I use twitter a lot: for communicating with colleagues, the general public, and my students. Like most users of twitter (certainly most academics, I suspect), my most common type of tweet is probably one in which I share a resource I have come across—a book, article, website, project, etc. Since I use our university’s Moodle installation to store resources for my students, it would be quite useful to be able to capture a Twitter feed inside our Moodle class space. This post shows how to do it.

Although Twitter appears intent on destroying its main raison d’etre and selling point—the fact it is easy to use and embed in third party applications—it has not quite succeeded yet. Until recently, sharing a Twitter feed was quite easy, since your user page was itself a feed. In the last year or so, as Twitter has worked at making their service less useful, they have gradually removed all direct access to postings as an RSS or ATOM feed. They have attempted to replicate this functionality through a custom widget they have created. Since this widget appears to want to gather information about the page it is on, however, it appears unable to accept password-protected URLs such as universities typically use for their LMS installations (at any rate, it would not accept the U of L’s Moodle URL).

Although it is apparently not advertised, it still is possible to grab Twitter feeds as ATOM or RSS through the search.twitter.com URL. Using the URL. The URL and syntax for an RSS feed is http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q= where q= is followed by an appropriate term (see below). For ATOM the URL and syntax is http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=

Here are some standard types of searchers you might want to do, from the excellent posting at The Sociable

Find tweets containing a word: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=twitter
Find tweets from a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=from%3Aalexiskold
Find tweets to a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=to%3Atechcrunch
Find tweets referencing a user: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%40mashable
Find tweets containing a hashtag: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%23haiku
Combine any of the operators together: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=movie+%3A%29

It is also possible to go far beyond this: The sociable also has ways of combining these with geographic locations and regions!

Getting this feed into Moodle is quite simple:

  1. While in your course, turn on editing
  2. Scroll down to the “Add a block” control
  3. Select “Remote RSS Feed”
  4. Fill in the necessary fields and click on “Add feed” to point at custom search you want to use.
  5. Save everything.

Eventually, you should see your feed show up in the Remote Feed box you added to your course (I say eventually, because the default refresh time in Moodle is 30 minutes).

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