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E-learning with web 2.0
tool which allows users to easily created personalised newsfeeds drawing on the collective intelligence of the wider web. Some RSS web services are also available in app versions which can be used on
below). In recent years, the mechanics of RSS have become more invisible to users, but it underpins crucial web 2.0 channels like social networking and social media newsfeeds, which are accessed both on the web and through apps on mobile devices.
refers to Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0). When you set up RSS feeds - or newsfeeds, as they are often called - from websites of interest, you receive automatic updates whenever those sites are updated. (Note that an alternative to RSS,
, can also be used to underpin newsfeeds.) Like
, RSS feeds are about pulling together distributed content from across the web but, unlike folksonomies, they provide a constant stream of up-to-date information in real time from preselected sources. RSS feeds can be accessed on the desktop of your computer, online, or via an app.
RSS feeds are an ideal way of keeping up-to-date with new information about subjects that interest you. Teachers can set up RSS feeds on relevant educational topics, or students can work together to set up group or class feeds on topics they are studying. Drawing feeds from other sites into your own webpage, blog or wiki allows you to incorporate others' views and perspectives, potentially leading to the co-construction of knowledge within a new frame.
For a light-hearted and simple explanation of how RSS works, you might like to take a look at Lee Lefever's video
RSS in Plain English
To start with, you need to select websites which have RSS (or Atom) webfeeds, usually signalled by the icon on the right, and subscribe to them (which is free of cost). Such webfeeds are typically found on sites that are updated on a regular basis, such as media websites,
sites. There are two main set-up options, as follows:
set up an online aggregator
, you can use services like
(see image above) or
, which create pages built around your nominated feeds. Note that the formerly popular
was retired in mid-2013, and the formerly popular
was retired (for the second time) in 2015. The demise of these services points to the increasing automation of newsfeeds, many of which now require little or no manual user intervention, as discussed under
Another possibility is to use a more general website service which incorporates RSS feeds, such as
or several others listed on the
page. You could also try out the more complex
. Further online aggregator options are listed in Wikipedia's
List of aggregators: Web-based services
incorporate RSS feeds into a pre-existing webpage, blog or wiki
, you can use the built-in widgets which have become common in website, blogging and wiki services, or you can use a separate RSS widget such as those available from
. Note that the formerly popular Grazr widget was retired in mid-2010.
There is another, older option if you want to store RSS feeds on your own computer rather than on a webpage, as follows:
set up RSS feeds on your own computer
, you can download a desktop RSS aggregator such as
. For an extensive list of desktop aggregators, see Wikipedia's
List of aggregators: Client software
► going mobile
Some RSS web services like
are also available in mobile app versions.
A variation on RSS is provided by
, which regularly emails users the results of Google searches on terms of their choice.
There are now many aggregator services which work on the principle of RSS, but which simplify the collection of feeds in such a way as to render RSS almost invisible to users. This is true of many social networking and social media newsfeeds. Beyond this, aggregator services like
have become popular ways of pulling together different elements of an individual's web presence and may be useful in the building of
. Aggregator services like
fulfil a similar function on the iPad, collecting updates from personal accounts on sites like
alongside newsfeeds from media outlets. Such aggregators typically present updates in a magazine-like format.
The main dangers with RSS are missing key information (if you subscribe to a limited range of feeds) or, more likely, becoming overwhelmed by information (if you subscribe to too many). The key is finding a balance point between these possibilities.
For academic and journalistic references about RSS, see the
page. You'll also find current information in the
E-learning tag cloud
The image at the top of the page shows a screen capture of Mark Pegrum's feeds on
. The RSS button on the right is a standard icon used across the web.
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