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Using RSS Feed and Aggregation

You have seen the orange icon on many websites. This icon indicates that you are at a website to which one can subscribe.  Subscribing means that updates to this website will automatically be forwarded to you in a RSS feed reader (or aggregator as it is more commonly called).

RSS is one answer to the question of how to filter and orga­nize the vast amount of information on the Web. Internet users tend to settle on preferred sources of information, whether news sites, blogs, wikis, or other online resources that regularly update content. RSS allows faculty and students to create a list of those sources in an application that automatically retrieves updates, saving consider­able time and effort. RSS feeds can be offered at varying levels of granularity, further enhancing users’ ability to specify exactly what information they want to receive. For example, a college or univer­sity might offer one RSS feed for the institution’s main news page, sharing information that concerns the institution broadly, and other feeds focused on the college of arts and sciences, the history department, or research being conducted by a professor of Euro­pean history. Users can subscribe to feeds independently, tailoring the content they receive to their unique interests and needs.

Growing numbers of online resources offer RSS functionality. Because applications such as browsers and operating systems increasingly support RSS, the technology has the potential to become the primary vehicle through which users interact with the Internet.

There are many types of information in RSS feeds:

  • Journal table of contents
  • News
  • Weather
  • Blogs, Podcasts
  • Shared bookmarks
  • Newsletters
  • Professional and Commercial websites
  • Cartoons, Photographs, and more

7 Things You Should Know About RSS

Blackboard currently does not allow for RSS feed, but it is relatively easy to set up an aggregator that does allow for customized RSS feeds for your online class.

  • Netvibes
    Netvibes gives you the ability to not only gather multiple feeds for your class, but to also place student blogs at one website.

  • Google Reader
    Google Reader makes an excellent personal tool for feed aggregation.  This link has some excellent tips on getting started with RSS feed.

  • Pageflakes
    Another good aggregator
Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Center for Teaching Excellence
Last updated: 09/22/2009
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