RSS: The New Killer Application for Educators. From: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms By Will Richardson Corwin Press 2006 Thousand Oaks, CA ISBN 978-1-4129-2766-6 (cloth) ISBN 978-1-4129-2767-3 (pbk.). RSS: Real Simple Syndication.
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From: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
By Will Richardson
Corwin Press 2006
Thousand Oaks, CA
ISBN 978-1-4129-2766-6 (cloth)
ISBN 978-1-4129-2767-3 (pbk.)
Simply put, “Weblogs (and an ever-growing number of other sites) generate a behind-the-scenes code in a language similar to HTML called XML. This code, usually referred to as a “feed”, makes it possible for readers to “subscribe” to the content that is created on a particular Weblog so they no longer have to visit the blog itself to get it. As is true with traditional syndication, the content comes to you instead of you going to get it, hence, “Real Simple Syndication” (p. 75)
Assume that you’re a political science teacher and you’ve found 20 or 30 Weblog and media sites on the Internet that are publishing interesting and relevant information for you and your students. Finding the time to access this information is time consuming and cumbersome; however, RSS feeds collect the content from the sites you’re subscribed to. Then, when you’re ready, you open your aggregator, which collects this material, and read all of the information collected at your convenience. (p. 76)
Basically, RSS gathers data from Weblogs you subscribe to, gathers relevant material, and allows you to access them at your leisure; this is the true benefit of RSS—you check one site instead of the 20 or 30 you would normally have to. “…not a bad tradeoff for a typically harried teacher” (p. 76)
“You can read more content from more sources in less time. In fact, you may even be able to cancel the subscriptions you have to paper versions of magazines and newspapers that come to your nondigital mailbox. With RSS, you can create your own collections of news and features that are personalized to your interests” (p. 76)
“Not only can you have the news and ideas of the day come to your aggregator. You can also use RSS to let you know when someone out there on the Web has published something with certain keywords that you might be interested in. So, by using RSS, you can create a feed for “global warming New Jersey” that will bring new results as they are published right to your online mailbox” (p. 76)
“Students can be immediately updated when new information about research topics is published. Teachers could track the blogosphere for discussions about motivating students or the unique pedagogies of the class. Superintendents could be notified about what’s being written about their schools” (p. 77)
“RSS is a technology that will change your life, if you let it. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been able to track about 150 feeds of information daily, from bloggers, newspapers, search engines, and more. Over that time, I have read or skimmed literally tens of thousands of posts and developed a fairly keen eye for quickly spotting the most relevant and interesting information. And that is another one of those skills that our students, the knowledge workers of the future, are going to have to develop in order to flourish. Given the fact that the amount of information going online shows no sign of slowing, if they are unable to consistently collect potentially relevant information for their lives and careers and quickly discern what of that information is most useful, they will be at a disadvantage. And, as with the rest of these changes, it’s our job to model and teach these skills” (p. 77)
“Ready to start? First, you need to set up an aggregator to collect your RSS feeds. I would suggest the Web-based service from Bloglines.com. Why?
Although there are a number of great downloadable newsreader packages out there that can do wonderful things, the main advantage to Bloglines is that you can access it from anywhere you have Internet connection” (p. 77)
“Setting up a Bloglines account is easy. When you get to the site, use the “Click Here to Sign Up!” link in the middle of the page and follow the procedures. You’ll get a confirmation e-mail to which you’ll need to respond, and then you should be ready to go. Bloglines has a few ways to subscribe to feeds. First, you can look at their listing of most popular subscriptions by clicking on the “Find New Blogs” link under the “Cool Features” section of the Bloglines homepage (or just go to www.bloglines.com/topblogs)” (p.78)
“The other way to subscribe to feeds is to manually add them to your list by using the “Add” link at the top of your subscription list. Remember this: A feed address is really a URL or web address. You find RSS feed addresses in the same place you find the address to any Website you might visit. So, to subscribe to a feed in Bloglines, you’ll need to past the address of the feed you want into the subscribe form that appears on the next page” (p. 78)
If you have any questions about RSS, please ask; I am happy to attempt to try to answer any questions you may have. If you’d like help setting up an RSS, I’d also try my best to ensure that your RSS is created properly.