Website Wednesday

Here’s a handy tool for sharing documents with students on your Blackboard sites:

Issuu is free a self-publishing tool that allows users to upload a file and then display it in an easy-to-read document viewer. Say you were teaching Macbeth, and to help introduce the play, you asked your students to read the Folger Shakespeare Library’s study guide to the play. The PDF file is available for download on the library’s website, so, using Blackboard, you could simply provide a link to it or upload it to your course site. Or using Issuu, you could embed the file directly into your Blackboard site and present it in a snazzy document viewer that offers full-screen display (and realistic page-flipping motions to boot).

Unfortunately the free version of WordPress (the site that hosts the Harold Lounge) doesn’t allow users to install the needed plug-in to embed Issuu files in blog posts, but you can get a sense of how the document viewer looks here. To embed an Issuu file directly in Blackboard (probably the most viewer-friendly means of sharing your documents), you will have to copy the embed code provided to you by Issuu after you upload your file and then paste it in your Blackboard content area after clicking the “Toggle HTML Source Mode” button (the one that looks like this: <>). You can choose from a few different layout and privacy choices, and include downloading and printing options as well. Files are limited to 100 MB and 500 pages, and the following file types can be used: pdf, doc, ppt, odt, wpd, sxw, rtf, odp, sxi.

8 thoughts on “Website Wednesday

  1. Cool – can you do that with files you created yourself?

    I keep trying to figure out how to upload a simple word document or power point presentation to my blog (as you say, wordpress doesn’t allow for that). I eventually want students to create a portfolio of sorts using a free tool (something like wordpress perhaps), but i’ve not found an easy way to upload simple documents.

    What do you think? Does anyone use a free e-portfolio system? We currently use something that students have to pay for, but we are now looking for a free tool. I thought about wikispaces but find it a bit clunky. I like the blog format – so clean and easy to browse and I like that students could design what it looks like with images and video clips, etc. I’ve looked at the free blog sites but still find it difficult to add word documents.

    What am I missing? Help me out folks!

    • I can show you how to upload the document and then link to it from your post. That part isn’t too hard, it’s just that it looks like a link and not like the document, which, as Matt said, is a little more visually appealing. I shall find you this afternoon/evening!

    • Hi Carrie,
      For our Architecture students, I tried the following portfolio-based website (on a limited/trial basis) last semester:

      You’ll see why this works best for art courses. It’s free, and students can continue to build on their portfolios after they leave our institution. (They can send the link to future institutions or employers via email.)

      Per the replies from PhiloDave and Matt U., I believe we’d do our students a favor by demonstrating how they can use this site to upload a written portfolio as an alternative to the fee-based sites.

  2. Yes, you can definitely use your own with files with Issuu. As you can tell when you go to their home page, their main draw is self-published magazines. But I use the embed function for almost all of my documents in Blackboard; it’s fewer clicks for students, and I like the visual appeal of seeing the document in front of me without having to first download it or link to an outside site. I really wish I could have embedded something here in WordPress to demonstrate, but it works fine in Bb if anyone wants to experiment.

    • Yeah, sorry about that. The “theme” that we were using before allowed embed (at least of video), but either WordPress changed their rules or its a quirk of this particular shell that won’t allow it (and requires a $60 fee). Now if HWFC had a budget…

      Matt did you try to do it from the HTML window? I’ve been wondering if that is a way to embed non-video objects. Just a thought.

      • I did try the HTML window. When posted, it just shows the link though, not the actual embedded document-viewer.

        • Ah..yeah, that’s what it did with video, too. I thought it might work differently with documents. Bummer.

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