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RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are a wonderful resource for web users; I will spare you my inevitably weak explanation of how RSS feeds work (I am not a computer scientist), and instead stick to how teachers and students can begin to take advantage of these tools.

Some basics from Wikipedia:

“RSS (most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format” (Wikipedia)

So, any website that is synced to an RSS feed (including this one, or any other wordpress blog) can send a signal of its updates through the RSS feed, a feed which can be accessed remotely from another site, device, etc.

The sign for an RSS feed address is:

, and hence that little sign on the top right corner of this teachingwithinfographics blog.

1.  Download an RSS feed reader app on the iPad.  The application I use is called “MobileRSS”, and it does the trick nicely.  I would love to hear about some others, though.

2.  Open the application.  Full functionality of the app requires the device to be horizontal.  You can add an RSS feed by clicking the plus sign on the top left corner of the application (see below).   Then, one could search, for example, for “The Learning Network” (New York Times educational content), or copy and paste its RSS feed address (by right clicking on the orange RSS feed sign within the webpage).  When you add blogs, they will stay in your library.  I have a collection of tech/classics blogs here, but this is only one third of my RSS feed library.  Whenever you open this reader application, it will check to see if any of your chosen websites have updated, and then you can view those updates within the mobile RSS feed reader.   Notice the numbers next to a few of my blogs; my feeder is telling me that I haven’t seen that many updates:

3.  Try searching for “Teaching with Infographics”.  Add it to your library.   Explore how the content gets arranged, and become familiar with the horizontal swipe motions that pull content in or out.

For classes:

There will be some blogs that your students will want to follow, or maybe that you will want your students to follow.  It’s a handy way to generate streams of viewable material and changing content.  An astronomy class could sync to NASA’s RSS feed, a Latin class could be synced to the American Classical League’s RSS feed, and the Thespian Society might want to sync to their society’s blog, and so forth ad infinitum.   Perhaps your class will want to be posting on a blog that syncs to an RSS feed that another class views?  This could be a fun way to generate dialogue and exchange between various classes.   Students will be prevented from subscribing to inappropriate content because of the block on all unapproved websites.  It may be in our best interests not to let the students subscribe to the RSS feed of Justin Bieber’s twitter, so forth.

RSS feed-reading saves a ton of time that would otherwise be spent typing in addresses into a web browser.  App makers are trying to make viewing content less dependent on typing characters and more dependent on using the touch screen in the easiest and intuitive way possible.  Tapping what you want to see in order to view its content is far superior to typing in a series of letters that result in the content!

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Categories: Tech Tools, Uncategorized
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