May 24, 2006

RSS: The New Killer App for Educators

Image000 Really looking forward to hearing Will do this explanation of the uses of RSS and how it's opening up our information world. I use RSS and think I get it, but know that I'll be learning something new from Will, just as I did in his keynote this morning. The Virtual Handout is on his Weblogg-ed Wiki. Let's go...

With 1.2 million posts a day how can we keep track of all that potentially useful information (and not bother with the stuff that doesn't interest us?). Technorati is the starting block to look for info on blogs. Why blogs? Because blogs give a lot of access to teachers, potential collaborators or experts. How best harness these people beyond searching for information on blog search engines such as Technorati.

RSS = bringing everything together = Really Simple Syndication

RSS is all about connections, bringing the content to you instead of you having to revisit old websites to pull content. Visit once, tell the site you want that content when it changes, and it comes to you. Two parts make up RSS.

1: Feeds
Feeds bring only new content

2: Aggregator
The aggregator collects the new content until you are ready to read, watch or listen to it.

If you are wanting to give students blogs to use in class then RSS is an essential classroom management tool: how else are you going to keep track of everything that has been written and ignore the pages where nothing has been written? RSS might sound like it's encouraging you to get into even more information - and you already have enough to get through - but it also gives you more control over all the information you are consuming. More info, more control.

Here's a good tip to see if something you read has a feed. Does it have an orange XML button? Who knows? I know mine can be a bit hard to find. But running a search in Google for your favourite site and adding the word 'RSS' will reveal that to you. Here's a Scottish example.

When you click and find that orange button copy it's address (i.e. RIGHT-click it and copy link address). Now what do you do with that address that you copied? You need to pop it in an aggregator.

Bloglines is a free aggregator and now you can add that address to your bloglines account. There's a guide to using this part of RSS on the MFLE.

Now you can speed read posts without having to spend time going to that blog. If something really interests you then you could go to that blog and read the article in its original context. You can see very quickly if a post is especially worth reading by how many other people have referenced the post.

I really like the idea of using Google News to run a specific search from news from source x, y but not z, and then subscribing to that result. Whenever that source talks about that story I'll get it. Here's an example: Scottish education stories only from the BBC.

More soon...


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One of the biggest pluses (???) I feel for RSS in education is TIME. By being able to have the information come to you rather than you go to it saves a lot of time, at present I subscribe to approx. 65 feeds - it might take me 20mins to read through them each day, but it would take me several hours to go and check out each of the sites individually.

Save some time - RSS

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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