Monday, November 17, 2008

Blog #9 RSS Feed Me

Learning at the beginning of this course that one of the assignments was to follow a minimum of five blogs and I was overwhelmed at the thought of keeping track of new blog postings. I also wasn’t sure how best to follow the blogs. Who knew a little orange button would make the task so simple. This was how I came to know about RSS feeds and feed aggregators (also called feed readers). It’s funny how I new the little orange icon was meant to feed something to me – had no idea what I was feeding on if I clicked on that familiar icon…

What is RSS?
“By using RSS, users get more control over what they see and when, and save themselves time as well” (Butterfield, 2007)
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a digital format for delivering regularly updated web content “from news sites, online catalogs and blogs without the laborious process of visiting individual sites, wading through outdated content and managing annoying pop-up ads.” (Ly, 2005). RSS benefits online readers who want to “subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader", or "aggregator” (Wikipedia, 2008). Lee LeFever’s RSS in Plain English video provides a basic explanation of RSS feeds and how this benefits regular Internet information seekers.

Renovated Reading Through Aggregated Feeding
Subscribing to RSS feeds solves a problem for people who regularly use the Internet. Using a feed reader or aggregator allows web users “to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually” (WhatIsRSS, 2008). Feed readers can display subscriptions from hundreds of different websites on a single page in the form of a short summary. Users then can scan through summaries quickly and decide whether they should the headline links to read complete articles or postings (Ly, 2005). There are plenty of choices to sign up for a free feed reader:
Google Reader
Bloglines
NewsGator
My Yahoo!
Netvibes
Pageflakes

Getting Started
I chose to use Google Reader as my aggregator for no other reason than I currently used Google applications in variety of other capacities. Setting up a Google Reader account is extremely easy and only requires a current email address, a password and agreeing to the Google Terms of Service. After that, I began copying and pasting blog URL’s into the ‘Add Subscription’ box and my aggregator was now up and running.

Expert Village has created a ‘How to Use Google Reader’ 15 part video series, detailing how to change settings, find and organize content, searching and sharing tips, subscribing to feeds and bookmarks as well as using Google Reader on your cell phone.


Introduction to Using Google Reader -- powered by ExpertVillage.com



RSS Feeds in Education
Will Richardson has written a RSS: Quick Start Guide for Educators outlining everything you need to know regarding RSS feeds for:
-weblog and website searches
-news searches
-group searches
-bookmarks
-combing RSS feeds

There are a variety of ways in which RSS feeds can specifically enhance instruction in the classroom.
-Educators can collect student blog content in an aggregator using RSS feeds
-Students can subscribe to new blog comments or specific topic content tailored to their learning needs
-Educators can track the written content going in student blogs through RSS feeds
-RSS feeds provide parents and other staff members with the opportunity to view student work as they are interested
-Students can syndicate Internet bookmarks using Furl or Delicious by creating RSS feeds or subscription tags in these accounts
-Students can follow their favourite authors or keep up with the latest book releases
-Educators and students can RSS subscribe to broadcast podcasts (video and audio)

Andy Carvin provides an introductory overview RSS Feeds: Making Your Favorite Websites Come to You through the PBS Teachers website. He reminds educators that while all blogs and news websites provide RSS feeds, some site take it a step further by providing multiple RSS feeds based on category topics and subject areas. One example of this is the New York Times which categorizes dozens of specific subject areas supporting the idea of users being able to customize their news content feeds. This kind of customized news site is advantageous for students wanting to follow streamlined news events such as world news, book reviews, or science news.

Alberta Education has a RSS feed on their homepage inviting all stakeholders (administrators, teachers, students, parents) to subscribe to news feeds released within the Ministry.


Cool Stuff
RSS feeds are offered in an assortment of subject areas and topics. If you have an online appetite for regularly updated digital content or news, there’s probably a feed to fill your informational needs…
The Weather Network
Word of the Day
Unique RSS Icons & Buttons
Create Your Own RSS Icon
RSS Calendar
View the latest pictures on Flickr

Butterfield, G. (2007). Tech teacher: Cut through the web noise. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/tech_teacher.pdf

Carvin, A. (2006). RSS feeds: Making your favorite websites come to you. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/teachers/learning.now/2006/09/rss_feeds_making_your_favorite.html

Ly, A. (2005). RSS feeds collage students’ diet for research. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-08-01-rss-research_x.htm

Wikipedia. (2008). RSS. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_(file_format)

WhatIsRSS. (2008). What is RSS? Retrieved from http://www.whatisrss.com/

4 comments:

Joanne de Groot said...

Hi Carol,

Thanks for the links to good resources about RSS...you found some good stuff! How do you see RSS being helpful for your students and teachers? How will you introduce them to RSS? Is Google Reader available in your schools? I would be interested in knowing more about how you see RSS as part of the school system...

chris the teacher said...

Hi Carol!
Do you find a lot of useful information from the Alberta Education RSS feed?

Carol said...

Chris,
I do find some of the AB Eduation feed useful.

Jo-Anne Gibson said...

Carol,
I agree with Joanne that you've found lots of great information and uses for RSS. I like the videos explaining how to use Google Reader. That might come in handy if we're teaching RSS to teachers or students.

Jo-Anne