Most people subscribe to magazines or newspapers for the convenience of having the content delivered. For that same reason and more, I subscribe to online content using Google Reader, one of my top 10 tools that I use every day, which is key to my work flow and professional learning network. Once an hour, Google Reader is my virtual assistant, going out to collect new content in my digital mailbox. It collects new posts from all the blogs to which I subscribe; conducts a search using the keywords: virtual, learning, and online; pulls in any new resources tagged by people in my Diigo network; locates news and videos about Willard Schools; finds new forum posts and comments from the Moodle Mayhem group to which I belong; collects tweets with the hashtag #flipclass; checks my family’s Flickr accounts for new pictures; and checks my husband’s calendar for new events.
My Work Flow
Ideally, each day I access the priority folder in my reader which contains content of the greatest importance. I have additional folders to further organize and prioritize subscriptions (Edtech, Research, Cooking, Tech News, etc). For some folders (Tech) I just skim the titles for relevant articles, quickly processing and marking as read. For other folders (Research, EdTech), I skim the articles choosing which to read in detail. As I read, I tag/highlight/sticky note items in my Diigo account. I also share items via email, a Buzz post, a blog post listing my recently tagged Diigo items, or by sending items to my Diigo Groups.
Most of the time I’m accessing Google Reader on my iPad while waiting for my daughter at the orthodontist or outside the dance studio, at the hair salon or Doctor’s office, or relaxing on deck after a week at work. I’ve tried several different readers on the iPad, but haven’t found one that syncs with Google Reader, maintains my folders, and provides the ability to tag with Diigo. So I just access it through Safari where I have the Diigolet button installed. While not as flashy as Flipboard or Pulse, it works for me.
In the Classroom
Our Willard teachers and students can access Google Reader by logging into their Willard Google Apps Accounts.
Google Reader includes options to save and tag articles, so having a Diigo account or an iPad is not required in order to save, organize, and share resources. You can view my handout for further details on how to use Google Reader.
Some of our high school students are using Google Reader for research and to read work posted on classmates’ blogs. Some of our teachers are using it as a part of their professional learning networks by subscribing to online educational content, but also are able to easily share items with students for assigned readings or as a reference.
Really Simple Syndication, RSS, uses behind the scenes code, which is referred to as a feed. Using a reader or aggregator, you can subscribe to this feed. Not all sites have a feed. You can look for an RSS button somewhere on the webpage. However, the universal way (works in any browser on any operating system) to see if a webpage has a feed is to attempt to subscribe to it using it’s address. First, copy the web address. Then click the Add Subscription button in Google Reader, paste in the web address and click Add. If there’s a feed, Google Reader will find it.
Your Browser’s Subscribe Button
Some browsers provide options to easily subscribe to sites:
Firefox: Bookmarks>Subscribe to this Page.
My digital mailbox helps me manage the huge spurting hose of media that we call the Internet. I am constantly learning and discovering new resources while reading my feeds. RSS was a game changer for me. And even better, this is all free, no subscription fees required.