The most prevalent, and overwhelmingly useful tool I use on the Internet is not a website, not email, not shared documents or photos or videos or music, but a “behind the scenes” bit of code: RSS feeds.
First, what is RSS?
RSS – Really Simple Syndication “uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. An RSS document (called “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarised text, and metadata, like publishing date and author’s name. RSS feeds enable publishers to syndicate data automatically. A standard XML file format ensures compatibility with many different machines/programs. RSS feeds also benefit users who want to receive timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate data from many sites.” (Wikipedia)
How do I use RSS?
RSS feeds connect me to the world. I subscribe to many, many blogs, news sources, video channels, podcasts, etc. through RSS feeds. Since the demise of Google Feed Reader in July this year, my first stop is usually Feedly. I subscribe to blogs by all the teachers at the schools where I work, by teachers at other schools around the world, leaders and thinkers in the world of education; to students writing and reflecting either for themselves, or as part of their course work; to professionals in other fields I’m interested in; to a handful of news sources; to various video channels, to a handful of podcasts that interest me…I subscribe to all the blogs here on OSC, and at the IB blog site.
Through RSS, the world is truly “at my doorstep”! Of course, I can’t read everything every day! Through Feedly and Flipboard I scan through the new postings on my iPad, and read those that interest me most, or catch my attention, every day. Every now and then I use my desktop computer Feedly page to check back through each subscription, catch up on things I missed, and clean out unread posts.
I curate a great deal of what I read, through Pinterest, Flipboard, Scoop.it, Paper.li, and Diigo. I tweet or retweet the occasional post, and of course, I forward a post in a direct email to a friend or colleague from time to time (often using Shareaholic). I try to pass on information I think will interest my particular target “audiences” – some to fit course work, some for teachers in particular, some for personal interest. I’ve installed the little applet buttons each of these sharing or curation sites provides in my web browser’s bookmark bar, so sharing is quick and easy. (All the sites mentioned here also have their own sharing possibilities on each post.)
RSS is what makes subscribing, curating and connecting on the web possible. “One way to think of RSS is like plumbing. It works behind the scenes. It’s the pipes that make content portable on the Web. ” (source)
To read more about RSS Feed Readers mentioned in this post, click through on these links:
Here is Feedly’s introduction video:
To expand your reading lists, check through these interesting lists of educational blogs
Photo credit: “Wishbone Spiral” cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by paul bica: http://flickr.com/photos/dexxus/5794905716/