What is it?

RSS (really simple syndication) lets you subscribe to things that you want to read on the Internet. It is a lot like a magazine subscription.

First of all you have to have a feed. The Feed is like the magazine. You can recognize feeds because they are usually represented by a little external image subscribe-buttons.gifbutton that looks like tiny squares of gum (they are called Chicklets). They usually look like the table to the left.

Secondly, you need a reader. (Some call this an aggregator) This is a website (or software) that goes out and collects your subscriptions (or feeds) and puts them together in a way that you can read. I use bloglines. (http://www.bloglines.com) I start my students with netvibes. (http://www.netvibes.com)

So, now:
Feed + Reader = You can go to one place and read the up to date information that you want.

Examples of Feeds

So, what on earth do I want to feed myself? I'm not hungry and I'm happy surfing the way I am. You didn't know what the Internet was until you used it. (Just like you don't know what apple pie tastes like until you bite it!) Likewise, you won't understand this until you try it either. Here are the main types of feeds I use:
> Tip: Go to www.google.com and type in your website and the word RSS. To find the feeds for the Atlanta Journal Consitution type in "Atlanta Journal Constitution RSS" - you will see that the RSS feeds for the AJC are at the top of the list.
  • News

    You can create your own personalized news. The easiest way for a beginner to do this:
  1. Go to http://news.google.com/advanced_news_search
  2. Type the name of the news source you want under News Source along with any other search terms.
    Or, I have created my own news about my hometown. I typed GA as my location and then Camilla in the search box. This searches "Camilla location:ga" in the search box. This shows all of the news about Camilla, GA.
  3. Then, on the page, you can see the words RSS on the left of the page. That is your feed!

  • Search Results

Almost any search on Google has an RSS feed. Other places you may want to search include:

When you find the feed:

You must copy it. There are other ways you will learn how to do later (if you follow the instructions in your reader) but for now. Just click on the RSS button and you'll be taken to a page that has XML at the end of it. That is your RSS. (Dont' worry, it won't look like this in your reader.)
1 - Go up to your feed's address (shown in the address box.)
2 - Highlight the address.
3 - Right click on it and select "copy"
4 - you will now go to your Feed reader and paste a copy of the feed into your reader after you click Add.

How do I start using it?

Sign up for an account at bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com) or netvibes (http://www.netvibes.com).

Your professional development

I believe that the best professional development is available to you during the spare snippets of time during your day. Rather than sitting down with a magazine or newspaper that may or may not have salient information, you can read the best education has to offer in your RSS reader. Other educators (http://www.thethinkingstick.com/?p=108) echo my thoughts in this matter.

Here is an updated list of the blogs I read: