Why I Love RSS

~The following post is written for my ECI 512 class, but you may enjoy the read anyway.~

RSS, or Real Simple Syndication, is a way to aggregate all of the information you read on the Internet in one central place that is normally spread out all over the Internet.  RSS users can “subscribe to a website’s content using tools such as newsreaders or aggregators” (Duffy, 2006).  I use RSS feeds to pull in the latest blog posts from the edu-blogosphere that I read consistently. I also use RSS feeds to pull in articles from New York Times, CNN, local news, tech news, and sports.  It’s a great way for me to stay on top of everything I would like to read without spending tons of time checking all the websites to see if they are updated.  You see…RSS feeds have changed the way I read the news.  Instead of going to get the news, RSS feeds allow the news to be sent to me and then I can sort, categorize, read, ignore, or just about anything depending on the RSS tool you use.

RSS feeds have yet to really find a place in education except for among techy teachers.  However, I feel that RSS feeds can be used to improve best practices, create a transparent classroom, and help teachers grow professionally.

How to improve best practices using RSS:

  1. Teachers can compile a list of websites that generate content related to their subject field (Duffy, 2006).  Students can access these feeds when researching to ensure they use creditable websites.
  2. If students are creating current events in your SS class, create an RSS feed of news-bits that have a political bias.  Have students summarize their current event but also analyze and address the bias in the news report.
  3. “In using blogs with students, instead of visiting each student’s individual blog teachers can subscribe to an RSS feed that allows them to obtain instant notifications and updates relating to any new content added…Additionally, students themselves can also subscribe to the feeds of their friends, peers and teachers” (Duffy, 2006).

How to create a transparent classroom using RSS:

  1. Students and parents can be notified of classroom website updates via RSS feeds.
  2. RSS feeds eliminate the need for email subscription lists and parents can be notified of announcements, events, dates, and student news by email.

In order for teachers to grow professionally using RSS, they have to be committed to reading other teacher, administrator, student, or parent blog. While teachers may not always like what they read in the blogosphere, it is important to have your thinking challenged and inspired.  Using RSS aggregators is a great way to bring blog updates about the educational blogosphere right to your computer.  This is the number one way that I use RSS, and I love it!  It’s the best kind of professional development.

While I have been using Google Reader as my RSS reader on my mac and FeeddlerRSS on my iPhone, there are tons of various web-based RSS feeders out there as well as tons of apps for iOS and Android phones.   I encourage all of you to find a few blogs and websites, and then find an aggregator to get started.  If you are daring enough, try using RSS feeds in your classroom and let me know how it goes. Bring the Internet to you!

Sources:

Duffy, Peter and Bruns, Axel (2006) The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In Proceedings Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, pages pp. 31-38, Brisbane.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Luke,

    A very convincing appeal for RSS! I totally get what you’re saying and need to get on board. I still “go” to my sites to get my news, etc., and I know I could be much more efficient about it. In addition, I hadn’t really considered all of the applications to education that you mentioned — thanks for these helpful suggestions. Enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more entries!

    Take care,
    Naomi

  2. Great summary and argument for the use of RSS feeds. I’m adding the whole class to my google reader right now and I think it’s going to make reading all of the class blogs so much easier.

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