What is RSS?
You may have come across the acronym RSS by now. It stands for Rich Site Syndication or Real Simple Syndication, but more importantly you need to understand what RSS is and how using RSS can make your online life more productive. Most modern Websites, especially those that contain content that is constantly changing such as news sites, blogs, wikis, and social networking sites produce an RSS feed that you can subscribe to using software called a news reader or news aggregator. Depending on the site, the RSS feed may contain just the headline, a small snippet or teaser, or the whole article including media such as images and video. Lee Lefevre of Commoncraft has a short video that explains what RSS is and how to recognize if a Website produces an RSS feed.
You Will Need a Newsreader
There are two common types of newsreaders:
- applications that you install on your computer or phone,
- and applications that live on the Web.
The type of newsreader you use is of personal preference and each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Many people have opted for a Web-based reader such as Feedly. This Wikipedia article describes what a newsreader is and provides links to a list of options and comparison charts.
How Does RSS Work with This Course?
Using a blogging environment such as WordpPress for doing coursework might be new to many of you. If you have done online courses before, you might be used to a system such as Blackboard or Moodle and the discussion or forum areas within those systems. In this course, the discussions take the form of comments to blog postings. Some people find this a little disconcerting to start with. One of the easiest ways to follow what is going on in your course is to use a newsreader to subscribe to the RSS feeds that are available, both for blog postings and comments. This is an easy way to check to see if anything new is going on while providing you with a link to get in and participate in the action without actually visiting the course site. You can subscribe to the posting feed and the comment feed for the entire site, as well as for the postings and comments of individual students or the instructor. You can even easily follow the course on your smart phone or iPod Touch using RSS.