It’s important that you and your students are able to quickly read the latest posts from all student blogs because:
- You need to encourage your students to be reading and learning off each others’ posts (and comments)
- Learning as part of a community leads to greater knowledge gain and innovation than working independently of each other
- It makes monitoring what’s written less time consuming and easier
In this ninth activity you will:
- Be introduced to RSS
- Learn how to set up Google Reader
- Set up Google Reader and subscribe to student blogs
Step 1: Introduction to RSS
RSS is an acronym which stands for Really Simple Syndication.
In simple terms, RSS is a simple and effective way of keeping in touch when new information is added to a website without having to visit the website to check for new updates.
How it works is you subscribe to your favorite website using the RSS feed in a RSS feed reader such as Google Reader. Whenever new information is added to the website it is automatically sent to your RSS feed reader where you can read it at your convenience.
For example, whenever your favorite blogger publishes a new post it is automatically sent to your Feed reader.
Sites with RSS feeds are normally indicated with the word RSS and/or the orange RSS icon.
For more information, watch RSS in Plain English
Please note :
- Blogs on all standard blogging platforms automatically include RSS feeds and don’t necessarily use words or an icon to indicate the presence of the RSS feed.
- For all Edublogs, the rss feed is found by going to yourblog.edublogs.org/feed. However, RSS feed Readers like Google Reader automatically detect your RSS feed from your blog URL so there is no need to know the feed URL.
- RSS lets you do lots of cool stuff including adding latest updates from your favorite blog(s) or news website(s) to your own site using RSS widgets like FeedWind’s RSS widget
Options to bring latest student posts to one location include:
- Feed Readers such as Google Reader and Bloglines
- Personalized homepages such as NetVibes, PageFlakes, ProtoPage, iGoogle
Ultimately it’s personal preference whether you use a Personalized homepage or Google Reader.
With personalized homepages you can add a range of different widgets, besides RSS feeds from student blogs, to really customize the page with helpful content for your students. However, reading posts on a personalized homepage isn’t as easily as reading them via a shared Google Reader folder.
Step 2: How to set up and use Google Reader
A key aspect to managing reading other people’s blogs, being able to quickly respond to their posts and connect with them is to use a RSS feed reader.
The most commonly used RSS Feed Reader is Google Reader.
Here’s how you set up Google Reader:
1. Create a Gmail account (if you don’t have one)
2. Go to Google Reader and sign in with your Google Account
3. Add the blog to your Google Reader account by:
- Clicking on Subscribe
- Entering their blog URL
- Now click Add
You can also subscribe to all the comments published on student blogs by adding their student comment feed by:
- Clicking on Subscribe
- Entering their comment feed URL. For Edublogs blog you add comments/feed/ to the end of the blog URL. For example it should look like this http://theedublogger.com/comments/feed/
- Now click Add
You follow the exact same steps to subscribe to any other website that has an RSS feed. However, you’d normally locate the RSS feed you want to add and then paste in the feed URL.
4. Next create a folder and place all the student blogs into the folder as follows:
- Hover your mouse over the blog title to display the drop down arrow.
- Click on the drop down arrow to display the subscription options.
- Select New Folder.
- Name your new folder and click OK.
Adding subscriptions to your folder is as simple as:
- Left mouse click on a blog title.
- Drag the blog into the folder.
- Then release your mouse to place it in the folder.
Alternatively, you can bulk add subscriptions to a folder using your subscription page:
- Go to Options and select Reader Settings.
- Click on the Subscriptions tab.
- Select the subscriptions you want to add to a folder.
- Click on drop down arrow next to More Actions and select the Folder you want to add the subscriptions to.
Here’s how to read posts inside Google Reader
Latest posts from the blogs you subscribe to will automatically be added to your Google Reader when they’re published and you read them as follows:
Latest posts from the blogs and websites you subscribe are automatically added to your Google Reader when they’re published.
You read them inside Google Reader as follows:
1. Log into your Google Reader account
2. Click on the folder you want to read.
3. Make sure it is set to Expanded view so you see the full post.
3. The number of unread posts is shown in brackets next to the folder name.
4. Just scroll down through the posts in the folder to read all posts.
5. As you scroll the posts will automatically be marked as read and the number of unread posts listed next to the folder name will decrease.
6. Just click on the post’s title to visit a post to add a comment
Step 3: Set up Google Reader and subscribe to blogs
Now you have learnt about RSS and Google Reader it is time to set up your own Google Reader account.
Here is where you find the other activities from this series:
Thanks to everyone who has participated in the 30 Days to Get Started Blogging with your students! And if you missed out, it is never too late to work through the challenges at your own pace!
You can always form your own team with other educators and work together!
- Student Blogging Activity 1 (Beginner): Setting Up Your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 2 (Beginner): Setting Up Rules & Guidelines
- Student Blogging Activity 3 (Beginner) – Teaching Quality Commenting
- Student Blogging Activity 4 (Beginner) – Helping Parents Connect with your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts
- Student Blogging Activity 6 (Beginner): Add A Visitor Tracking Widget To Your Blog Sidebar
- Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs
- Student Blogging Activity 8 (Beginners): Add your student blogs to your blogroll