Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/RSS

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RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web content syndication format. Web syndication is a form in which website material is made available to multiple other sites. RSS 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. An RSS document, which is called a feed, web feed or channel includes full or summarized text plus extra information such as publishing dates and authorship. Publishers are benefited because they are allowed to syndicate content quickly and automatically. For the receiving site, content syndication is an effective way of adding information to its pages, making it more attractive to users.

RSS feeds can be read using a software called an RSS reader, feed reader, or an agregator which can be web-based or desktop-based. The user can subscribe to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The RSS reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new work, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds.

Teaching and learning possibilities

It would be very difficult for both students and teachers to find the time to click through all those interesting sites that may provide them useful information in order to for example, work on a project or develop their writing skills. RSS allows teachers to go to one place to read all of the content on all of those sites.

We believe there are a number of different ways that RSS feeds can add to our knowledge base, help us communicate, and make our teaching and learning better:

  • Teachers who work with Weblogs can scan through all of the class content in one place, make sure it is all appropriate, and click through to a particular post if they want to comment on it.
  • Even if students do not have Weblogs, teachers may work using this tool on a project work. If students are working on a certain topic they could actually create an RSS feed that would bring any news about it to their aggregator as soon as it was published. Note that if students do not know how to use RSS, the teacher will have to explain it before starting with the project work.
  • Teachers can always keep in touch with parents by sending information, photos, or the student’s marks via RSS. This could be done either in the student`s mother tongue or in the target language being taught. This choice will depend on the teacher´s aims, according the school and families´interests.

Examples

    • Manheim Township School District http://www.mtwp.net News flashes of the latest activities are sent to parents via RSS.

We believe that these are good examples of what can be done by using RSS. For teachers who teach English in a non native speaking country what RSS offers could be as useful as it is for Schools where English is a first language. Facilitating an interesting and useful way to keep in touch with both parents and students enables them to use this way of communication in an active way. Not only students can use RSS at school, but also at home.