Tuesday, June 19, 2007

RSS Tricks and Tips

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is a method for organizing content on the Internet so the content comes to you rather than you looking for content. I have been using RSS to track the blogs I read for two years. Today in Will Richardson's (photo credit) session I learned new ways to use RSS that are useful and relevant to teachers and students. Here are the three coolest things I learned:
(1) News searching. Go to Google News and perform a search. For example, "educational technology". This search covers 4,500 (mostly) newspapers. Once the search is completed on the left-side of the page you will see RSS. Click the RSS hyper-text and you will get the feed. Add the feed to your reader. Now any time a new article is published on educational technology in one of the 4,500 newspapers you will be notified in your reader (Google Reader or Bloglines). In addition, using the advanced search feature in Google News you can restrict by publication.
(2) YouTube RSS: If you want to subscribe to Youtube videos by tag (or keyword) you can do this through your reader. Here is how you do it: first, copy this feed: feed://www.youtube.com/rss/tag/monkey.rss into a web browser. Change "monkey" to the keyword you want to track videos on. For example, if you wanted to know if any new videos were posted on "Darfur" you could create a RSS feed for Youtube using this method and any new videos would post to your reader.
(3) Google Calendar: Several of the teachers in the Global Learners Project (Jeff Lewis, Kelly Schwichtenberg, and Emily Taylor) were smitten with Google Calendar and have decided that their school will use it next year for IB Units and as a school calendar at Alsup Elementary School. Under "Manage Calendars" click the calendar that you want an RSS feed for. At the bottom of the page is a button that says "XML". Click that button to reveal a web address that is a RSS feed. Copy that feed to your Reader. Be sure to make your calendar "public" in order to use this RSS feature. Parents could subscribe to the school's calendar and know when it was updated with new events. How cool would that be?


Kelly Schwichtenberg said...

During our training last week, I wasn't able to make it to the RSS group. Up until this posting, I truly didn't know what it was. Now that I am linked to more than one blog, using the RSS features will be truly beneficial!

My teammates loved the Google calendar idea! We met last week and mapped out our writing and math units. We worked together on the what/when and the all I had to do was put the information into the calendar. I've already shared the new calendars with them!

Jeff Lewis said...

The Google Calendar can also be embedded in your website as your school calendar. It will change on your website as you make changes to the calendar.

I just created a calendar specifically with information that is relevant to parents (conferences, PD days, literacy nights). I then went to "manage calendars", selected the calendar (calendar has to be public), then I clicked on html to get the url for the calendar. From Contribute I created a link from my home page to this url. Parents can view this calendar directly from my home page whenever they want. It is updated automatically as I add items in Google calendar.

The advantage to this is that is easily accessible from the website which I hope parents will be looking at often. The advantage to doing it as as RSS feed is that parents could be notified when there is a change to the calendar. Either way, its a great tool for keeping parents in the loop.

Joseph Miller said...


Great use of Google Calendar. Hoepfully your parents will check your calendar constantly on your website. If you paremts fall within the 18-20% of Americans that use RSS, then they can add the calendar to their reader. That would be incredible if we had parents doing that!