Posts Tagged ‘rss’

This really is a journey…

December 22, 2008
Like drinking from a fire hydrant!

Like drinking from a fire hydrant!

Winter break has arrived, and most of my colleagues in these parts are spending some quality time with friends and family.  I’m using some of my down time to write my first reflective piece for this blog.

It’s unreal how much I’ve learned since September.  That’s when I started using an aggregator to read news feeds and blogs.  I was already an avid podcast listener, but I really had no idea of the true value of RSS.  In October I started my own weekly podcast for my students.  Now that I’m comfortable with audio recording and editing, I intend to integrate student podcasts into my classes in the coming months.  October was also when I started this blog.  November brought more change; I joined Twitter and started cultivating my PLN.

I feel like I’ve come late to the party, but I don’t feel out of place.  Early on (lol, last month), @cnansen helped me find some folks to follow on Twitter.  Now I’m seeing new names show up on my followers list daily that I don’t recognize but who have so many great ideas to share.  When I needed some help on podcasting specifics, my PLN was on the ball with answers.

This month I was accepted as a Discovery STAR Educator.  That means that I’m an educator who creates and shares innovative curriculum content and who promotes the use of tools like UnitedStreaming.  These activities are nothing new to me, but it’s nice to have a label to apply to them.  I’ve been presenting at regional conferences since 2005.  My school board has never recognized my conference efforts, but they sent me a congratulatory letter for my STAR acceptance.

What a semester! I’ve been playing catch-up with the edublog scene, crafting my own digital footprint, and pondering where all of this fits into my teaching practices.  I’m more “current” than I’ve ever been, and I feel empowered to bring the new ideas that are coming my way into my classroom next semester.

Happy Holidays from MoixLand!

Really Simple, eh?

November 10, 2008

rss2I was born a digital native, but I’m still “Old School” in some ways.  For the longest time, I hated to teach students web design software, instead showing them HTML.  I think it had to do with teaching something proprietary versus teaching something standard.  I’m over those days now, and I teach students to blog and to create wikis if they want to get their content out there on the Internet.  I’ve also come around to another new technology called RSS.

For those who don’t know, it stands for Really Simple Syndication.  RSS allows the computer to bring the contents of a website or a blog to you rather than you going to it.  RSS has changed the way I consume Internet content.

I used to bookmark things that I found interesting and return to those resources periodically to check for updates.  Maybe you do that now.  Possibly you’ve graduated to social bookmarking tools like Delicious.  Still, going to sites to check for content can be a waste of time if there’s nothing new to see.  Instead, make that content come to you.

Whenever you’re on a website, look for indicators that you can subscribe.  Do you see the RSS logo pictured above?  Do you see links called “Feed,” “Atom,” “RSS,” or “Subscribe”?  These are indicators that an RSS feed is present.  Some browsers even automatically detect the presence of feeds and turn on an RSS icon for you.  A feed is just a compacted, machine-readable version of the content you’re already consuming.  If you click on a feed, you may either see a bunch of code (like HTML, but uglier), you could see some snippits of the page content, or you could see a gaggle of buttons all with different logos on them.  Either way, you’ve found a feed!

I’ll tell you what to do with that feed further down…  Just chill out.

Feeds, as I mentioned, are machine-readable.  They’re not very palatable to humans.  You will need a tool to consume the feed.  This is called a reader or an aggregator.  I use Google Reader because it’s a web-based tool that follows me wherever I go.  Some people prefer to use programs they’ve downloaded and installed (but I don’t).

Once you have your feed address, find the place to click in your reader to “subscribe.”  Yes, “subscribe” usually means “pay,” but in RSS terms it only means “sign me up to receive content from this source in the future.”  Once you’ve clicked the subscribe button, paste the feed address into the appropriate box and hit subscribe!

Once your aggregator chews on the new feed for a minute, you should see the content from that source appear in the reader.  Voila!  You’ve subscribed to a feed.  In the future, just load your feed reader up and see what new content has been posted on that site.  If you see something you want to see in its original glory, click the title of the posting.  That usually opens the original in situ.

If you’re not crazy about this feed reader stuff, you can also use a new tool that HP is developing called Tabbloid.  You go to their site, paste in a few feed addresses that you would like to read, put in your email address, select a time of day, and poof!  It emails you a PDF file on command which contains the content from the feeds you provided.  If you’re a paper person, you can even print those things out.  It’s sort of like your own custom magazine once a day.

Using RSS and a feed reader has given me the ability to consume much more material than I previously could.  It gives me the chance to speed through lots of content and then stop when I see something that I care about and spend more time on it.  Give RSS a try!

Podcasting

October 24, 2008

Part five in this week’s series of 5 technologies I use in my classroom every day is podcasting.

I started out with a weekly show called the Frank and Moix Week in Review featuring Carl Frank and myself.  The show typically runs about 30 minutes and covers a lot of territory.  Carl and I talk about what’s going on in our department and our classes, but we also encourage students who are participating in clubs and activities.  We try to have a third voice each episode as well.  Listen to a little bit of our newest episode or pick another from our episode archive:

It took about a month to really get the podcasting technologies figured out.  To get more practice, I started a daily show called the MoixLand minute in which I bring up one topic or item of interest and give it 60 seconds.  

the MoixLand minute for October 24, 2008 is about the often overlooked academic calendar.

I use the podcasts to reach students.  Other educators use the process of podcast creation as vehicle for a lesson.  Check out Bob Sprankle’s Room 208 podcast produced by his elementary students.

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