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  1. 1. RSS, Feeds and Aggregators: Maximizing Benefits for Teachers and Students Alike Esperanza Román-Mendoza George Mason University eromanme @ EUROCALL 2009 Pre-conference Workshop Escuela Polit écnica Superior de Gandía September 9, 2009
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>RSS / Content syndication </li></ul><ul><li>Setting up an account with Google Reader </li></ul><ul><li>Setting up an account with Pageflakes </li></ul><ul><li>Integration in the FL curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Sources </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why? <ul><li>Internet expansion – Social Web </li></ul><ul><li>Constant launching of services, applications and tools </li></ul><ul><li>Information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities for exposure to authentic language use </li></ul><ul><li>Urgent need to apply strategies to find, sort out, categorize, and reuse information </li></ul>
  4. 4. RSS in plain English
  5. 5. RSS / Content Syndication <ul><li>Content syndication is the process by which a reader chooses to periodically receive content published by a given source by means of a subscription. </li></ul><ul><li>Markup language: XML </li></ul><ul><li>Two leading XML dialects ATOM & RSS </li></ul><ul><li>Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication or RDF (Resource Description Framework) Site Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Content syndication has been around since 1997. RSS since 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>Documents enabled for syndication via XML are called feeds , news or news feeds </li></ul><ul><li>News aggregators: Google Reader, Bloglines </li></ul><ul><li>Start pages: MyYahoo, iGoogle </li></ul><ul><li>Social personalized start pages: Netvibes & Pageflakes </li></ul>
  6. 6. RSS Sources <ul><li>Blog posts and comments </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki edits and discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts and videocasts </li></ul><ul><li>Microblogging updates </li></ul><ul><li>Lifestream entries </li></ul><ul><li>News and other regularly updated information </li></ul><ul><li>Results of queries performed in repositories, search engines, directories, and databases </li></ul><ul><li>Tags and favorites created by users (for instance in Delicious, Amazon, Flickr, Gmail, YouTube, Google Reader) </li></ul><ul><li>Almost anything, by converting it previously with tools such as Page2rss or Feedity </li></ul>
  7. 7. Aggregators / SPSPs <ul><li>Easy to manage </li></ul><ul><li>Share with friends/groups </li></ul><ul><li>Comments </li></ul><ul><li>Favorites </li></ul><ul><li>Stable platforms </li></ul><ul><li>High learning curve </li></ul><ul><li>Tools to create personalized start pages and share them with the Internet community or with a group of people. </li></ul><ul><li>Not necessary to create a personal profile </li></ul><ul><li>Not necessary to provide information about followers and friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Collective editing </li></ul><ul><li>Widgets </li></ul><ul><li>Technical glitches </li></ul>Aggregators Social personalized start pages
  8. 8. News aggregator. Bloglines
  9. 9. News Aggregator. Google Reader
  10. 10. Accessing blog entry directly from Google Reader
  11. 11.
  12. 12. Exercise 1: Setting up an account in Google Reader and add some subscriptions
  13. 13. Google Reader Basics <ul><li>Go to http:// </li></ul><ul><li>If you have a Google account, login using the same username and password. </li></ul><ul><li>Once you have it a Google Reader account, you can begin adding subscriptions to any RSS feed by clicking Add Subscription: </li></ul>
  14. 14. Google Reader Basics <ul><li>Search a term to find feeds or enter the URL: </li></ul><ul><li>You can also subscribe to feeds by clicking on the RSS icon that appears in the URL window in browsers like Firefox or Explorer: </li></ul><ul><li>Just click on the RSS icon and the subscription window will appear. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Hands-on… (1) <ul><li>Subscribe to 10 feeds: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the search option to locate 5 feeds that may interest you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the subscription tool to enter the URL of 2 sites that you want to subscribe to. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Browse/search the web for 3 additional feeds. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Exercise 2: Organizing subscriptions in Google Reader
  17. 17. Feeds Management <ul><li>Using tags/folders to categorize feeds or posts. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For profession-related feeds [based on Rimm-Kaufman (2007)] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>-always, -often, -seldom, and -usedto. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>_teacher, _friend, _researcher, _institution… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tech, lessonplans, materials, searches… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SPAN461S09, SPAN476F09… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course-related tags. Select a few tags or make students make a list of tags to be used in a given course. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Just click on the RSS icon and the subscription window will appear. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Hands-on… (2) <ul><li>Manage your feeds: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose the names you want to use for your folders. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select the first subscription on the left side of GR and click on Feeds Settings. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on New Folder, at the end of the pull-down menu, and write the name you want to give to the folder. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the same for each new Folder you want to create, or just drag the name of the subscription to one existing folder. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continue until you finish with your 10 feeds. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. More on Feeds Management <ul><li>To assign a subscription to more than one folder, just go to Manage Subscriptions and select the corresponding option from the pull-down menu Change Folders. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Hands-on… (3) <ul><li>Adding subscriptions to more than one folder: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Go to Manage Subscriptions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select the subscription(s) you want to assign to new or exisiting folders. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on Change Folders. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add new folder or select existing one. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice with two of your subscriptions. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Hands-on… (4) <ul><li>Adding tags to posts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open one of your subscriptions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select one item and go to the end of the item. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add as many (new or existing) tags as you want by clicking on the Add Tags icon. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Exercise 3: Sharing in Google Reader
  23. 23. Sharing and Finding Shared Info <ul><li>In GR, you can share: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subscriptions by making the public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual items (share with groups or with public) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You can also add notes to your shared items </li></ul><ul><li>You can follow people and get their shared items: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scholars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Hands-on… (5) <ul><li>Looking for shared information: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on Browse for Stuff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click on Search Tab </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for your workshops colleagues and add them to your contacts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for a subscription that may be of your interest by using the keyword search. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Exercise 4: Organizing information in Pageflakes
  26. 26. Pageflakes as SPSP <ul><li>Diversity of tools or flakes. </li></ul><ul><li>Importing RSS feeds from OPML archive. </li></ul><ul><li>Group creation. </li></ul><ul><li>Pagecasts. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Pageflakes as SPSP Flakes (selection) in Pageflakes
  28. 28. Adding and importing RSS feeds with Pageflakes
  29. 29. Course pagecast template. Pageflakes
  30. 30. Hands-on… (6) <ul><li>Create a Pageflakes account and build your first Pagecast. </li></ul><ul><li>Use at least five different flakes, including a couple of RSS subscriptions and comment boxes. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate what use you could give this Pagecast in your current job. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Exercise 5: Sharing information in Pageflakes
  32. 32. Sharing option in Pageflakes (group pagecast) Sharing option in Pageflakes (public pagecast)
  33. 33. Hands-on… (7) <ul><li>Share the pagecast you just created with your workshop colleagues. </li></ul><ul><li>Create another pagecast and practice with different levels of sharing and collaborative editing. </li></ul><ul><li>What uses could you give Pageflakes in your current job? </li></ul>
  34. 34. Exercise 6: Challenges and actions
  35. 35. Learning Challenge I: Working with content while still struggling with the language <ul><ul><li>Students are still struggling with learning the language but need to cover a lot of content with which they may be not very familiar. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not rely on data memorization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities to apply language skills to real communicative practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design activities in which learners learn from each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assign projects that produce useful, publishable deliverables. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based Project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each student is in charge of studying a particular comunidad autónoma , is required to post a blog entry with the answers, can check other students’ projects (even the teacher has one) and provide feedback in a centralized, Pageflakes-based web site. </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Subscription to Wikispaces edits
  37. 37. Accessing student blogs from centralized Pageflakes site
  38. 38. Hands-on… (8) <ul><li>Develop one RSS activity for your class addressing challenges you observe in content courses. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Learning Challenge II: Addressing ALL students’ needs <ul><ul><li>Students represent a wide range of linguistic and academic backgrounds. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for self-paced learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor individualized learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students and teachers negotiate curriculum (Schwarzer & Petrón, 2005) and project topics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use alternative methods of assessment (Schwarzer & Petrón, 2005). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students choose 4 or 5 feeds they are going to follow throughout the course and publish comments on their aggregators. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students create a community of practice by sharing resources according to their goals for the course. </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Hands-on… (9) <ul><li>Develop one RSS activity in which you address the specific needs and likes of your students. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Learning Challenge III: Writing in a foreign language <ul><ul><li>Students need more opportunities to write in the TL. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assign written exercises for real audiences. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use “student-vernacular” environments for written exercises. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities to learn and use new vocabulary. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduce reading materials that are meaningful to students. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students build their own public pagecasts using a social personalized page service (e.g., as a semester-long individual project). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students integrate into their pagecasts a simple blog widget to publish comments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students pagecasts include widgets of popular social Web services. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are given a set of feeds to subscribe to according to their interests, language knowledge and specific cultural background. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are asked to comment on peers’ blogs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students develop a list of relevant terms and use them as tags to create feeds. </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Hands-on… (10) <ul><li>Develop one RSS activity in which you give students more opportunities to write. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Learning Challenge IV: Creating new learning materials <ul><ul><li>Commercial teaching materials for certain languages and courses (such as for heritage speakers) are scarce and very limited in scope </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use authentic materials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take advantage of community resources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate different types of literacy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students subscribe to and comment on authentic Web-based materials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are required to go beyond the traditional text and use as sources of information all types of media (both in their individual and final group projects). </li></ul></ul>
  44. 44. Hands-on… (11) <ul><li>Develop one RSS activity in which your students work and produce authentic materials. </li></ul>
  45. 45. Learning Challenge V: Addressing affective needs <ul><ul><li>Students who feel comfortable in a class and know their strengths have more opportunities to continue learning the TL. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for students to feel confident about their language skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for students to track their progress throughout the course (learning portfolios). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expose students to real examples of language use by other speakers. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By subscribing to and following their peers’ blogs, students realize they are part of a big community that can use their language skills for real written communication. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By keeping a digital narrative that includes most of their online course work, students can easily go back to their first contributions and reflect on their progress. </li></ul></ul>
  46. 46. Hands-on… (12) <ul><li>Develop one RSS activity in which you motivate students to become autonomous learners. </li></ul>
  47. 47. Final Remarks <ul><li>RSS has great potential as “channelizer” of information, and significance for learning processes in which content syndication enhances accessing, filtering, and repackaging data of all sorts. </li></ul><ul><li>As the information produced and consumed by students and teachers in any learning environment is diverse in format, size, nature, and periodicity, to mention only a few variables, so are the possible educational applications of RSS in collaborative or individual assignments and projects, peer assessment, learning portfolios, service learning, and professional development, among many other uses. </li></ul><ul><li>In a world in which the volume of data exceeds the capacity of users to sort and receive it , learners and teachers alike will benefit from a sound use of RSS. </li></ul>
  48. 48. Final Remarks <ul><li>By asking students to access diverse feed-generating sources, organize and select information, FL students will be exposed to FL and communicate with native speakers in ways probably never explored by them before. </li></ul><ul><li>Although there are increasingly more social web services that rely on oral communication, the current web is still text-based. Communication via blogs, wikis and chats requires the written language, and by asking FL students to be producers of information, we are encouraging them to use FL in new environments, with which they are already familiar in English. </li></ul><ul><li>RSS-based students projects and portfolios will enhance not only students’ knowledge about the subject matter but also that of the teacher’s. Students and teachers (and hopefully the community) will form a learning community from which all participants will benefit. </li></ul>
  49. 49. References, Sources and Bibliography <ul><li>Chinnery, G. M. (2008). Biting the hand that feeds me: The case for e-language learning and teaching. CALICO Journal, 25 , 471-482. https :// </li></ul><ul><li>Commoncraft. (2007). RSS in Plain English. or </li></ul><ul><li>Downes, S. (2002). An introduction to RSS for educational designers . . </li></ul><ul><li>Kirpatrick. M. (2009). How to backup and search all your friends’ tweets in Google Reader. </li></ul><ul><li>O’Neil, M. (2009). Is Google Reader the Next FriendFeed? </li></ul>
  50. 50. References, Sources and Bibliography <ul><li>Richardson, W. (2006): Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms . Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press. [RSS chapter also available at . </li></ul><ul><li>Rimm-Kaufman, A. (2007). Tagging Scheme for Organizing Feeds in Google Reader. </li></ul><ul><li>Román, E. (2008). Manual del Módulo “Tendencias Actuales del e-learning 2.0. Madrid: UNED. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Rom án-Mendoza, E. (2009). “RSS and Social Personalized Start Pages: Optimizing E-language Learning through Content Syndication, in Anderson, L & Lord, G . The Next Generation: Social Networking and Online Collaboration in Foreign Language. CALICO Monograph Series. </li></ul><ul><li> (2009). OPML for Twitter subscription lists. </li></ul>
  51. 51. Cited Tools and Services (I) <ul><li>Blogger. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Delicious. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Edmodo. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Feedity. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Flickr. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Friendfeed. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Google Reader. http:// / reader </li></ul><ul><li>iGoogle. http:// / ig </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>MyYahoo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Netvibes. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Ning. http:// / </li></ul>
  52. 52. Cited Tools and Services (II) <ul><li>Odeo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Pageflakes. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Page2rss. http:// page2rss . com </li></ul><ul><li>PBWiki. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Podomatic. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Scribd. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Slideshare. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>SurveyGizmo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter Search. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia. http: // </li></ul><ul><li>Wikispaces. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Wordle. </li></ul><ul><li>Wordpress. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube. http:// / </li></ul>