An Aggregate Food Blog

Professor Grace Cho wanted a way for students to keep track of the foods that they ate, and to reflect on the significance of their food choices. In the past, Professor Cho had asked each student to keep a food journal, which she’d then collected at the end of the semester. It didn’t take much convincing for her to move the food journal project online, in the form of a collaborative blog.

Professor Cho hoped to retain the concept of the journal, though. She also had questions about the logistics of evaluating a collaborative blog: How would she keep track of which student had posted what? And how often? And how much?

Certain students had questions, too. One student already had his own blog, hosted by, which he wondered about using as the location for his food journal. Another student had already created a personal blog within the Macaulay system. She wondered about posting her journal entries on that blog, instead of having to create a new one solely for the course.

For these reasons, I suggested that each student post his or her journal entries on his or her own blog. That way, the concept of the personal journal could be retained, and the students who already had blogs (with readers!) could continue to post there. Futhermore, when the time came for evaluation, it would be easy to view each student’s contributions individually.

But I also knew that with the FeedWordPress plug-in, I could aggregate the students’ individual blogs to be displayed on a central site. That way, there would be a single location where they could view (and comment on) their classmates’ posts. The central site would also give the students more of a sense of working together on a common project. The addition of the tag cloud on the sidebar– a personal pedagogical fave– further enhanced the students’ sense of collaboration.

The final product, Food, Self, and Society: An Aggregate Food Blog, successfully put the students in dialogue with one another. The aggregate format conveyed the range of issues raised by individuals’ food choices, as well as the depth of thinking encouraged by class discussion. Students could easily view and comment on each others’ entries. At the same time, each student could retain his or her own visual aesthetic and scholarly voice. The aggregate food blog, to lean a little on a cliche, models a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

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