Tuesday, August 4, 2009

RSS Aggregator

Image by spellwithflickr

I set up my RSS aggregator with Google Reader. At first I had no idea why I was using this Web tool but as I started to explore what I could do I was really amazed at how easy it was to track everyone’s updates for their blogs. Instead of visiting their actual blogs I could visit Google Reader and see the updates. I will like to do more exploring on this Web tool to find out how to use it effectively in the classroom.

What is a RSS Aggregator?

RSS Aggregator stands for Real Simple Syndication. It works in the background of a website to generate content (or code) called news feeds (Subramaniam, 2009). RSS has helped automate the process of keeping up with news and information online. Now users can subscribe to blogs, news sites and other web content and receive an updated content in a single place. (Farkas, 2007). It can also help keep you updated on podcasts and social networks.

Subramaniam (2009) states that the most notable feature is that it allows the user to easily generate her own content because the content, called feeds, comes to the user rather than the user going to get the content. RSS is the key to staying informed and preventing information overload (Farkas, 2007)

Theory – Engagement Theory

This technology fits into Kearsley & Shneiderman’s (1999) first principle of the Engagement Theory; Relate. The Relate principle emphasizes team efforts that involve communication, planning, management and social skills (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). The students can use the RSS Aggregator to track other students’ blogs and post a reply to them. This will also create social skills as the students are communicating with other students they might not usually communicate with. As a result the social skills that the students develop through RSS Aggregator and blogs may also help them to find new things in common with other students within the classroom.

It also emphasizes collaboration among peers and a community of learners. This is because all student activities involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Using RSS Aggregator in the Classroom

RSS can provide teachers and students with the opportunity to evaluate and filter content from the Web (Subramaniam, 2009). The way a teacher could use this tool within the classroom could be to incorporate it into an English lesson where students are learning about current issues within Australia. The teacher can subscribe to blogs and new sites that are relevant and appropriate for the student’s topic. Students can then go into the RSS aggregator and read the stories without having to retrieve information from their original sites. You could also use the RSS Aggregator to keep track of students blogs (if they create one for a particular lesson) and this would also allow the students to keep track of other students postings.

RSS is a technology that will change your life, if you let it (Richardson, 2008)

I agree with this statement as it is a technology that is going to revolutionise learning through other web sources but only if classroom teachers learn/ teach students how to effectively use it. What do you all think?

Does anyone have any other ideas in how to incorporate this technology into the classroom?


Farkas, M (2007) Social Software in Libraries: Information Today Inc, New Jersey

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Richardson, W (2008) Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Corwin Press, California.

Subramaniam, R (2009) Handbook of Research on New Media Literacy at the K -12 Level: IGI Global, United State of America.

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