RSS Plus – a new RSS Kid On The Block for Moodle 2.x

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Totara LMS supports the work of Frankie Kam as he explores the many possibilities of Moodle for fun and to improve his college’s course site.

WIRIS

I. What RSS is

Do you use a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) block on your Moodle site?

Design by vectorarts.net, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Share Alike 3

The standard Moodle RSS block for Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.x was written by Daryl Hawes, with CSS code by  Martin Dougiamas.

Figure 1. The standard Moodle 1.9 RSS block

It does a pretty good job in generating dynamic course content, such as news headline links, professor web links, blog postings, and much more.

At least one Moodler has modified the standard RSS block as did Mr. Badrul Mohammad’s work of displaying a link’s description in tooltips.

Figure 2. The standard Moodle 1.9 RSS block with a tooltip hack

 

Yet another good RSS block, for Moodle 1.9 however, is the Newsfeed block by Sam Marshall.

 

II. New Kid On The Block

As of 2nd April 2012, there is a new RSS block, for Moodle 2.x, named the  “RSS Plus Block for Moodle 2.2 – Alpha Release”.

Figure 3. Both the standard Moodle 2.x RSS and the RSS Plus blocks side-by-side

In the screenshot above, the standard stock “RSS Client” block (that comes with the standard Moodle 2.2 installation) is shown on the left, AND on the right, the RSS Plus block. You can experience it yourself by logging to http://moodurian.com/m2/course/view.php?id=2 as
Username: student
Password: student

Its creator is Shaun Daubney, a Communications and eLearning Development Officer, of Further Education College.  Special features of RSS Plus are:

I’ve installed it on my Moodle 2.2 test site. Check out my video on Youtube introducing the RSS Plus block, as shown on my Moodle site.
The RSS feed in the video shown consists of a feed of 20 CNN news items AND 20 BBC UK news items. So 40 news items in all and NO SCROLL OF DEATH thanks to a vertical scrollbar CSS trick that I have added.
Here’s the trick:
Edit the file /block/rss_feed/styles.css
Add the two magenta lines inside the styles.css..block_rss_plus .content section.
styles.css..block_rss_plus .content {
   padding-left:0 !important;
   padding-right:0 !important;
   height:500px;
   overflow:auto;
}
That should do the trick of vanishing the scroll of death! In fact, you can also apply the same code for the Remote RSS Feed – i.e., the standard Moodle RSS Block. Give it a try! Thanks to Itamar Tzadok for teaching me that one.
Future features that Shaun would like to include, and is requesting for help, are
  • Display images from all feeds (where applicable)
  • Display other content such as video (where applicable)
  • Display feed favicon or channel image over main image

Personally, I’m excited about the RSS Plus block because it enhances my course pages. Images from the BBC UK RSS feed are a nice touch, and it  helps to keep my Moodle content fresh.

Until my next post, keep Moodling!

Frankie Kam
Melaka, Malaysia