Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a relatively new concept for me.  Along with learning the ins and outs of RSS, I am also discovering that many people seem to be several steps ahead of me in utilizing this technology.  Often, I find myself trying to catch up mentally with others that have already passed the initial stages of understanding and application.  Furthermore, even when I seem to grasp the main purpose of RSS, I have had trouble making it relevant for me.  However, I recognize that I have not completely made the necessary mental transition to apply it to my professional and personal life.

Up until recently, I was a “wait for it to come to me” kind of guy, meaning that I never really looked for information.  I grew up where the television had set hours for hearing the news or watching the game, and there were not many readily available options for seeking information.  Even when I got a computer with internet, other than the occasional score check on the games and needing quick solutions, the only other information I read or watched on the internet was what friends recommended to me or what news flash I happen to catch.  I did not make frequent visits to any particular site.  For the most part I was happy to live this way because I felt like I still had control of how much time I spent on the computer and how much I felt obligated to read.

When I started my course in Introduction to Educational Technology, it changed my perspective in many ways.  First, I was suddenly needing to access a specific site on a regular basis to get important information regarding the course.  Second, my professor introduced me to many professional sites that have great educational tools and information, so I needed to return to these sites as well.  Later, I was required to do research, which led me to many places on the web, and often the information I found was also useful for my career.  Therefore, I quickly began to apply RSS feeds to help keep me up to date with information and correspondence.

For application of RSS, my professor asked me to consider the following 2 questions:

  • How might teachers use RSS in the classroom?

Many of my university colleagues have posted wonderful ideas for the application of RSS feeds with their students both in and out of the classroom.  In most cases these ideas already start with the premise that students have already set up their own blogs or have subscribed to a RSS receiver or reader.  In my particular case as an 8th grade teacher in Saudi Arabia, I would have to consider the possible challenge of students having to subscribe to online services to be able to interact in the best way possible.  This subscribing process can actually be  used to measure the student’s ability to follow step by step instructions.  However, from my experience, the initial set-up is not the most difficult factor, but it is the set-up of actions and other features within the online service.  Basically the students would need to be shown exactly what set-up to do or with which web-sites  they should subscribe.  After students are more familiar with it, they could personalize their settings and searches.

Another classroom approach is to use RSS feeds on the class web-site, or blog.  This would save students time from sifting through useless web information while trying to do an assignment.  It appears that Google Reader has two options for this.  One is to make a folder public and provide a link to that folder.  Another is to apply a setting to the shared folder that will automatically send any information to the location of your choice.

  • What other benefits might you gain from knowing how to use RSS?

Normally, I consider a problem and see if technology will provide the solution.  Even though RSS feeds are a really great tool, I have not yet experienced a problem in which the RSS feeds will help, but I also realize that I am adapting my ways of thinking to make this technology work to my advantage.  As of now, RSS feeds are a back-up for information, because I currently receive e-mails about important posts from my course.  However, I know that as information quantity increases the RSS will benefit me to narrowing my attention on more important data.

Once I practice more using this with my own studies as well as in teaching, I believe I will find many other creative uses for RSS.  It is an online feature that is very adaptable to your needs and objectives.  One of the biggest benefits is that it is online.  As mobile technology increases the RSS feeds will be available where and when you need them.  As display and demonstration technology increases, more students will become comfortable with this tool and it will better prepare them for the future.

This posts meets the AECT Standards in the following ways:

  1. 1.1.1.b Analyze instructional tasks, content, and context.
  2. 1.1.2.d Incorporate contemporary instructional technology processes in the development of interactive lessons that promote student learning.
  3. 2.0.7 Contribute to a professional portfolio by developing and selecting a variety of productions for inclusion in the portfolio.
  4. 2.4.2 Develop and prepare instructional materials and products for various distance education delivery technologies.
  5. 3.1.4* Provide accurate and prompt reference information and exhibit strong communication skills when responding to reference inquiries.
  6. 5.1.2* Apply knowledge of current trends and issues in the field of school media.
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