Thursday, May 28

#8 (WEEK 4) Learn about RSS feeds


Make Life “really simple” with RSS & a news reader powered by ODEO -- listen to this!

You’ve heard of RSS? You’ve seen those small funny tags on websites? You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? Well don’t worry, most people don't; but this is changing rapidly. In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionalizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit everyday. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? Read more about RSS here or watch this video on teachertube (should be viewable from inside the firewall)


Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it’s available now through a newsreader and RSS. This week’s discovery exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and what free tools you can use to do this.

Discovery Exercise:



  1. Follow these discovery exercises to set up your own, personalized RSS feed reader. Learn about the differences between RSS feed readers, Bloglines, and Google Reader.
  2. Create a free "RSS aggregator" account from either Bloglines or Google Reader and subscribe to at least 5 newsfeeds to your reader. [BLOGLINES. Here are the steps for creating an account in BLOGLINES. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions. See also a short video on YouTube on how to add feeds (only viewable from home, sorry).
    GOOGLE READER. You may prefer to set up an RSS aggregator in Google Reader. Tutorials include: Google Reader Tour, video tutorial #1 or #2.]
  3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise. Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions: What do you like about RSS and newsreaders? How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your training or personal life? How can your organisation, trainees or students use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?
  4. Optional: If you're up to the challenge, you can provide the URL address to your public bloglines account (find where to find this below)
RSS feeds you might want to add to your reader:

  • How to save the world - Dave Pollard's environmental philosophy, creative works, business papers and essays.
  • OUseful info - Exploring the potential of Web 2.0 techniques and applications in higher and distance education, informal and lifelong learning.

Discovery Resources:

How to find your public Bloglines URL:


1. Click on the Share tab within your Bloglines account:

2. Scroll down the right screen pane and locate the public URL.

Why have a public account? To share blog rolls with others, of course. That's how I keep track of elm2008 participants. It has been a fantastic productivity tool for the elm2008 project -- each time one of you posts something new to your blog, my bloglines list shows your blog in BOLD and how many new posts have been added to your blog since the last time we looked. NOW, imagine that you have one or more classrooms full of students who each have a blog and must post an assignment to their blog -- you can see at a glance which students have posted.

Curriculum Connections:

  1. Idea #1: Use an RSS Reader to keep up to date on issues of interest to you.
  2. Idea #2: Locate news items on a particular theme, copy them – or create links to them onto your training blog. Have students read them and then create your chosen activity: class discussion, critique, review, debate or perhaps writing onto a class wiki.
  3. Idea #3: Aggregate your group's RSS feeds from multiple sources using yahoo pipes and add the stream to your blog as a widget. Rodger Stack explains how in his blog post: Collaboration in Learning and Teaching

2 comments:

redmenace said...

I had one issue and that is that I decided to make a blog for my class but wanted to protect students' privacy and not make the blog public. I couldn't seem to set up an RSS feed for that blog while I could do it easily for public ones. Now I'm wondering whether that means a class blog would have to be public for you to monitor posts through an RSS feed?

botheredbybees said...

That's right - RSS is a syndication feed that broadcasts public announcements about blog updates, so it's disabled on private blogs