Task 5 - Feed Your Reader: Begin to Build a Reading Habit

Photo by Cattrin
Photo by Cattrin


One of the key concepts of "Web 2.0" in education is the understanding that we are all becoming "networked learners."
The tools connect us to an expansive, interconnected web of experts, ideas and resources, and allow us to participate and contribute. A core element of your learning network is your RSS reader (also known as a newsreader or aggregator). Fill it with quality feeds and the expert knowledge, learning and ideas come to you!

Discovery Exercise: Feed Your Reader

PART 1: Find one or two (educational or otherwise) sites of interest to you and add them to your reader. If you need help finding sites with RSS feeds, you may want to use one of the Blog Search Engines below.

Use Blog Search Engines to Find Feeds
Use these tools as you would a "regular" search engine to search for blogs or news feeds on your particular area of interest.
  • Alltop - http://education.alltop.com/
    Alltop presents a categorized page of RSS feeds in all types of categories, education included. It is an easy way to quickly get feeds from the most prolific, informational, and news-worthy blogs.
  • Google Blog Search - http://blogsearch.google.com
    Type your terms into the search field and click Search Blogs. Use multiple keywords and phrases just as in a regular Google web search. Adding clarifying terms such as "education" or "elementary" to your main topic may be helpful.
  • Technorati - http://technorati.com/
    Technorati is the recognized authority in what's happening on the "World Live Web." To learn more about Technorati, click here.
    To search Technorati, enter one or more keywords in the search box at the top of the page and click Search. (Search Tips: You may want to include terms such as "education" or "elementary" along with your other keyword(s); Try looking at results on both the Posts tab and the Blogs tab; Authority ranking indicates how many other blogs have linked to a blog).
  • Google Reader "Discover" - http://google.com/reader
    Perform a "Feed Search" from right inside your Google Reader. Click Discover, then the Browse tab, type your search terms in the Search and Browse field, then click Search for Feeds.

HELP TIP: If you can't find an RSS feed/subscription icon or link on a blog, just copy and paste the main blog URL (site address) into the Add Subscription box in your Google Reader, then click Add. The reader will "sniff" the site for a feed.

PART 2: Adopt two classmates
Subscribe to the blogs of (at least) two classmates. Use our Google "tracking" spreadsheet to find your adoptees - PLEASE make their blog addresses BOLD to indicate that they have been adopted. Ideally, everyone will be adopted by at least one other participant plus their coaches -- please try to pick people who don't have a BOLD blog address before picking those who do!

PART 3: Add a "Fun" Feed to Your Reader


Part 1: After completing the discovery task above, you should have about 6-10 feeds in your reader (NOTE: You are not required to retain the original feeds from Task 4 if you do not want them (Go to Manage Subscriptions in your Google Reader and click the Trash can next to the feed you want to remove). Check your Google Reader daily or every other day for 5-7 days. Practice skimming and scanning.

Part 2: Create a Custom News Feed. One of the most powerful features of Google News is that it allows you to create a custom feed that checks 4,500 news sources for whatever keyword(s) you choose. To set up your feed, go to Google News: http://news.google.com, enter your desired search term(s) and click "Search News" (Use advanced search features to refine your search as needed). While viewing your results, click the RSS link in the left sidebar, and copy and paste the feed URL into the Add Subscription area of your reader.

Part 3: Write a blog post reflecting on your experience and sharing one or more items of interest from your reader. Include links to any posts you refer to. Be sure to include "Task 5" as part of your post title. Please continue to check your reader at least every other day throughout the course. It's the only way to actually build a reading habit. See note below.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT YOUR READER: The content in your reader can be overwhelming because it will continue to "pile up" endlessly. BUT -- it's not actually there -- it hurts NOTHING for you to skim and skip items and mark them as "read" just by scrolling past them. You aren't actually deleting anything. In fact, learning to quickly scan and process a lot of news items is an essential part of RSS literacy and information management -- the important ideas will always come back around, and you will also learn to pare down your subscriptions as you go. If you feel compelled to thoroughly read every item, you will remain completely overwhelmed and quickly "quit" your reader. Keep trying -- it gets easier!