Thing 6: Feed Your Reader and Build an RSS Reading Habit


Feed Me by Katie Cowden
One of the key concepts of "Web 2.0" in education is the understanding that we are all becoming "networked learners." The tools connect us to an expansive, interconnected web of experts, ideas and resources, and allow us to participate and contribute. A core element of your own PLN, or personal learning network, is your RSS reader (also known as a newsreader or aggregator). Fill it with quality feeds and the expert knowledge, learning and ideas come to you!

Discovery Exercise: Feed Your Reader

PART 1: Find 5-6 Edublogs of interest to you and add them to your reader
You will have to invest a little time to find the first couple of bloggers whose voices really resonate for you, but once you find a couple of folks you really like, adding others becomes easy. In the "blogosphere," you will find that the voices you value are often connected to one another.

Here are a few places to begin looking for Education-focused blogs:
  • Livemocha: Top 100 Technorati-Ranked Edublogs -
    This is a list of many "recognizable" names in the Edublogosphere. While it doesn't give a description of each blog, it's a great starting point for exploration. Edublogs Magazine profiles several of them in this 2008 article.
  • 2010 Edublog Award Winners and Nominees -
    A fantastic resource for finding valuable education blogs. Check out the winners and nominees, especially in the first seven categories -- click a category then scroll to the bottom of each page to see the list. You can also explore the winners and nominees for previous years at the top of the blog.
  • Support Blogging! Links to School Bloggers -
    An un-vetted but rich list of possibilities. Many recognizable names, some hopefully serendipitous finds.
  • Alltop Education News -
    An RSS-driven collection of the most recent posts from several dozen education-focused blogs and news sources. Click the title of any article to go to the originating blog or news source.
After adding a few from above, Google Reader will begin to suggest blogs for you. Just click "Recommended sources" on the left side of the screen.

‡ HELP Tip: To add most blog feeds to Google Reader, just copy and paste the main blog URL (site address) into the Add a Subscription box in your Google Reader. The reader will "sniff" the site for a feed. For more info, review the "Thing 5" instructions for adding feeds.

PART 2: (OPTIONAL) Add a "Fun" Feed to Your Reader

¤ NOTE: If there is more than one feed on a page, right-click the specific feed icon or link and select Copy Link Location (or Copy Shortcut) then paste the copied URL into your Google Reader "Add a Subscription" field. Examples here.

Here are a few "fun" feeds to try:

Task 1: Build Your Habit
After completing the discovery exercises above, you should have about 7-10 feeds in your reader. Check your Google Reader at least every other day (preferably daily) for 5-7 days. Practice skimming and scanning. AFTER you have done so, complete PART 2 below.

¤ NOTE: You are not required to retain all of the original 5 feeds from Thing 5 if you do not want them (Go to Manage Subscriptions in your Google Reader and click the Trash can next to the feed you want to remove).

Task 2: Blog
Write a blog post reflecting on your experience and sharing one or more items of interest from your reader. Include links to any posts you refer to. Be sure to include "Thing 6" as part of your post title. You will be asked to "share an item of interest from your Reader" at other times during this course. Please continue to check your reader at least every other day throughout the course. It's the only way to actually build a reading habit.

Stretch Task

Create a Custom News Feed. One of the most powerful features of Google News is that it allows you to create a custom feed that checks 4,500 news sources for whatever keyword(s) you choose. To set up your feed, go to Google News:, enter your desired search term(s) and click "Search News" (Use advanced search features to refine your search as needed). While viewing your results, click the RSS link in the left sidebar, and copy and paste the feed URL into the Add Subscription area of your reader. After monitoring the feed for a couple of days, write a brief blog post describing the feed you created and sharing an interesting item that has appeared in your reader as a result of the feed; be sure to title your post Stretch- Thing 6.

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