Posted in 1.1 Creating, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge)

Using RSS for Education

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary but is often called Really Simple Syndication. It is a format used for sites to deliver their regularly changing or updated content. You can think of an RSS feed as an export of the content of a web site without having to go the the actual web site.

Check out this short video where Rich Bonaduce explains what RSS is: 

How do I even use these RSS feeds?

Once you’ve got the RSS feeds you want to come back to, you’ll likely want to find an aggregator to view your feeds. Feed reader or aggregator software allow you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read. Digg and Feedly are a good examples of an RSS readers but there are many for you to use. They all work pretty much the same. Typically they display your collection of RSS feeds in one place in an easy to organize and read fashion. Take a look at snapshot of both of my Digg and Feedly feeds.

feedly_digg.png

Both these services have easy web interfaces that allow you to effortlessly add subscriptions and organize data. There are also browser extensions that usually make adding a feed to your collection even easier. In the “old days,” people also used stand-alone applications such as their email programs or specialty RSS readers. With everything happening in the “cloud” these days, you see less and less stand-alone applications.

Another way RSS is used is aggregating feeds directly onto web sites. For example, a teacher can have a class web page and include feeds to various sources on the site. This way students always see fresh content on the class site and the teacher has an avenue to distribute appropriate content. Check out the Instructables RSS feed example I added on the sidebar of this site.

I already spend too much time online. How is this going to help me?

Using an aggregator will help consolidate the time you spend getting caught up with the content you find important. Instead of having to fish through email newsletters, you can check your aggregator and get everything in one place. Aside from cleaning your mailbox of all those annoying subscriptions, another benefit is being able to keep your privacy and no long need to use your email to subscribe to site specific content. 

How can RSS help me in the classroom?

Aside from being a 21st Century skill that students should be learning anyway, teachers can use RSS in the classroom wherever they want to organize content in relevant ways.. So like, all the time. 

Since my specialty is Technology Education, I looked for unconventional ways to use RSS. I came across Blog2Print, a service that will turn your blog into a book. This is a great foundation to teach an interdisciplinary lesson with the English department (or whoever else may be writing blogs in their classrooms). The idea being that the blog is being written in another class and then turned into a book in Graphics. The Blog2Print site does make the process pretty easy but there are details that will require graphical knowledge. Unfortunately, the service costs for this particular service will likely keep this idea from fruition in my school but I can already see ways to maybe create the books in-house.

howdoyouuserss

 

References

What Is RSS? RSS Explained – www.WhatIsRSS.com
Digg – What the Internet is talking about right now. – http://digg.com/
feedly: organize, read and share what matters to you. – http://feedly.com/index.html
YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/
blog2print | Turn your blog into a timeless treasure. – blog2print

 

 

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