e-learning,  RSS,  Weblogs

PostRank as course content filter

I’ve been playing with PostRank. They use an algorithm to analyse which posts have got the most ‘engagement’ from a particular RSS source. The good thing about this is that it gets over some of my reservations in previous posts about the use of metrics to measure your blog value. These are often relative to everyone else, so as with Technorati, you’ll get lumped in with professional blogs. PostRank tells you about the engagement relative to your own posts. This is potentially useful, as it tells you, and more importantly, the reader which posts have generated feedback. They measure engagement not just by back links, as Technorati does, but by a range of interactions eg. by delicious links, comments and Twitter links. This gives you a much better idea of the type of interaction posts are generating. My top posts are shown in the widget over on the left.

You can then filter the results by a key word, eg Twitter will show you my posts relating to a certain micro-blogging tool, ranked through PostRank. This double layer of filtering (term plus engagement ranking), has some potential to act as course content I feel.

Let’s take an example: You create an aggregated feed of many RSS sources, eg using RSSmixer I created this one of UK edubloggers. You could then get PostRank to analyse this (although there seems to be a problem with doing this at the moment, the PostRank team are looking into it). Or, you use PostRank and in Feed Details you add in each source. You then need to add a tag eg edublog and click Create New. This adds it into your Channels in PostRank. As you add each feed in, you can set it to analyse ‘Great’, ‘Good’, ‘Best’ or ‘All’. You can then export this as an OPML file to display. Here are the ‘Best’ posts from some UK edublogs in Grazr:


This is all a bit fiddly though. What I want to be able to do is for me (as educator) to set up a range of channels for a course (eg UK edubloggers, global edubloggers, media blogs, library feeds, etc). The student can then use these as the basis for their course content. For example, say I ask them to discuss the Research Assessment Exercise they can filter by RAE in the UK blogs.

The point of this, over just using Google say, is that allows educators to have some input by selecting the best RSS resources, and these are then filtered. A course then becomes a sequence of activities that relies on these sources, but does not need to generate the content itself. So, any chance PostRank team that we can do this?


  • AJ Cann

    I’m struggling. What advantage does this approach have over setting up a Google CSE for the blogs you want rather than going through OPML? Is it the updating aspect?

  • Melanie Baker

    Hi again, Martin. 🙂
    Ah, I now understand what you’re looking for. An ongoing resource as determined by educators that’s sharable (and, presumably, keeps itself up to date without a lot of manual fiddling). Sound about right?
    Bad news: we don’t offer that yet.
    Good news: we’re working on that right now. Really! So feel free to shoot any more wishlist items our way. 🙂

  • Martin Weller

    @AJ – yes, at the mo I don’t think it offers too much, but it does give you the ranking by engagement element, which provides a layer of filtering not in Google. What I want is, say, a Netvibes page showing a range of PostRank sources I have set up (eg UK, edublog, library, etc), which students can then filter by topic as appropriate. In updates regularly, and also helps filter. Maybe Google CSE also in this mix – the shift away from educator generated content is there in that solution also.
    @Melanie – thanks, will keep an eye on the updates.

  • Sheila MacNeill

    Hi Martin
    Thanks for this. I think this could have potential for us at CETIS to do some more analysis of our website. Our home page is populated through aggregated staff blog posts, and it would be interesting to see what posts our “audience” are most interested in and that could help us in terms of themes and stimulus for more blog posts.

  • Swapnil

    One of the most important factors in Search Engine Optimization is the number of incoming links to your website, the relevance of the website linking to you, the anchor text used for the link, and the page ranking of the webpage linking to you. We have tried it and have found it very useful to increase our page rank on google. We are a tender information portal, http://www.tradereader.com. We used tenders as our anchor text. We suggest any site to try and increase the backlinks.

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