Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘rss

How to I educate myself on how teachers are responding to schooling in lockdown?

Screencap of RSS feeds on teaching during COVID-19 lockdown and its aftermath.

I rely on my RSS feed. Here is a snapshot of some articles I have in my reading queue.

Why not rely on hearsay from teachers I know? I know them too well. I need some objectivity and different perspectives.

Why not rely on press articles? Sorry, I could not hear that question because I was laughing out loud.

I am old-school with some things on the Internet. For example, I rely largely on RSS feeds to keep me informed.

But I do not recall it being described as radar. The description is apt because RSS is a sensing product and process that allow me to detect blips of interest. These nuggets come to me; I do not go to them.

Perhaps RSS should be renamed Radar Sensing Scheme.

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Video source

One of the first things I do every morning is process my RSS feeds. I normally do this on my bus ride to work with the help of Feedly.

In this video I show you how I skim anywhere between 100 to 150 articles each morning. I identify a few that are worth reading and tweeting about. I do this within about five minutes as this real-time video shows.

Getting all the latest information in the morning is like giving myself a shot of caffeine in the jugular. Maybe that is why I do not need to drink coffee to get a buzz in the morning!

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I’ve mentioned before how I sometimes read during my interstitial time [1] [2]. This often means reading on the move and on different devices.

I might read on my iPhone, iPad, Macbook (at home or work) or PC laptop (at home). So what is the problem?

Most of what I read comes recommended by my Twitter network and from RSS feeds. There are issues if you want to skim now and read later.

Twitter is a stream of consciousness. An interesting article appears on your radar and disappears downstream unless you try to catch it somehow. One way is to favourite the tweets in Twitter or a Twitter client. You then return to the list of favourites later. If you link Twitter up with Delicious or Diigo via a service like packrati.us, you can return to the social bookmarks later.

RSS feeds once clicked on are marked read and disappear unless you “star” them or remember mark them unread.

But if you process about 300 tweets and RSS feeds a day, these extra steps add up. So what are some solutions?

I started with Instapaper and am now trying Read It Later. Both provide apps and bookmarklets in your mobile or desktop browser with which to mark, download and read articles of interest. Mark an article on your phone and you can read it later on the desktop PC (and vice versa).

KeepItWithMe and SendTab are two bookmarklet services that allow you to send and receive URLs to another device. But you can send only one URL at a time.

I have experimented with using KeepItWithMe in conjunction with Tabulate. Tabulate allows you to send all open tabs in your browser. But this two-step process is a workaround instead of a one-click (or tap) solution.

My latest find is cc:to me. This is also a bookmarklet system but it sends URLs to your email. If you have, say, a Gmail tab open all the time and have your mobile device set to retrieve email regularly, this is a convenient alternative.

I have not identified a clear winner yet. This is partly because there is no perfect solution for me. I also try not to read something later because I might end up with a nice long list that I do not get to complete.

I’ve had a Netvibes account ever since Netvibes promised new ways of pulling and pooling content. But I abandoned it a while back when it did not deliver as much as I wished. I have renewed my interest in it because of a helpful comment from a visitor to my blog recently.

As a result of the suggestion, I have created publicly-accessible pages to all of my teacher trainees’ group blog entries and comments (see screenshot below, click for larger version).

rss-netvibes

What I like about the Netvibes format is that I can share not just the initial entries of my trainees but also their comments and responses. If they do not wish to subscribe via RSS, the URLs to those pages gives them a one-stop shop to get updates on what the other groups are discussing.

Of course they can visit their peer groups’ blogs directly, but new comments are not obvious. Furthermore, by visiting a page that gives them both a bird’s eye view and detailed views of their blogosphere, they can see who is contributing, who is not, what is being shared, etc.

Want to know how to do this yourself? Check out the Thinking Stick.

Now if there only some way to be able to “star” and markup select postings or comments like you might do in Google Reader or Kwout. This would allow me to highlight key concepts in the online space.

Ever wonder what the RSS feeds of my classes looks like?

I use Google Reader to follow the entries and comments in group blogs maintained by my teacher trainees. I also use Vienna on my Mac to track the total counts or to archive good postings (click image below to view larger version).

rss-vienna

I opted to rename the feeds so that it makes sense to me. Instead of retaining the name of the blog, I label them by their course, tutorial group and subgroup. I keep track of the comments too because that is where the fun really begins!

BTW, the list of feeds might look long, but it is markedly shorter if you think about how I used to follow individual blogs of all my trainees in previous semesters!

New to RSS? Learn more about RSS at our class wiki. Then import the feeds using this XML file (right-click and save).

The lines between email and other forms of communication are blurring.

Google has added voice and video to Gmail. It has also enabled RSS feeds to be translated into the (popular) language of your choice.

See Google Press release.

Bloglines and Edublogs, you let me down! I think you let some of my preservice teachers down too!

I love that Edublogs was set up with educators and students in mind. The fact that it has a WordPress engine was a plus too. This gave it RSS feeds for comments and other conveniences. But Edublogs is sometimes slow to load (either to view or to write) and sometimes the feeds don’t work. I do not know if the latter is entirely Edublogs fault though.

Bloglines seems to be in perpetual beta-testing, but surely the service should get better, not worse. Just before and right after a recent downtime (Oct 1 by my records), I have noticed that it was not collecting feeds from most of my trainees’ blogs. It did not matter if they were on Edublogs, Livejournal or Blogspot. I thought that they had stopped blogging due to the semestral workload. I am sure that the workload had something to do with a lack of postings, but it had never caused a deafening silence!

Fortunately I had a plan B and even a plan C. I use Google Reader as an online aggregator backup and Vienna on my Mac as an offline aggregator. But they cannot do some things like Bloglines does. I cannot clip and keep exemplary entries in a separate folder. I cannot mark some postings for later reference or bonus marks. Google Reader does allow me to “star” entries, but it is not as convenient. Google Reader will tell you the number of X unread postings in a blog, but it also seems to take more time to collect feeds or it will tell you that it cannot get the X postings it has detected as unread.

So, Bloglines, I hope you feel better soon! And, Edublogs, please shape up. I know that education is always the last to respond to new technologies, but that does not mean that we must be in last place all the time! It’s time to catch up!

If not, I will not be recommending Edublogs and Bloglines to my trainees next semester.

Addendum to my posting: I noticed that some feeds in Bloglines were coming in like clockwork. These were feeds that were not in folders (I keep my trainees’ feeds in folders to be organised). Maybe the upgrade or maintenance did something to affect the feeds of RSS in folders. How about it, Bloglines?

I do not know anyone who is obsessive-compulsive enough to read a newspaper from cover to cover. We only read what we are interested in. Likewise, we only visit Web sites that are of interest to us. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of having to visit these sites for updates, there was a way for updates to be sent to us?

It would be wonderful and there is a way: RSS! Here’s a quick intro…

I use RSS to read the latest entries of the 70 blogs my three classes of trainee teachers are now maintaining. I need not visit each blog one by one because this is a waste of time. It is also illogical because I would not know when each blog has been updated.

With RSS, the lastest entries are instantly sent to me via feeds. It’s like receiving new email in your inbox! In addition, I also know how much and how often someone blogs.

To learn more about RSS visit the online tutorial at http://ict-course.pbwiki.com/RSS+Feeds.


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