Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Using RSS Feeds

Tired of searching through your Favorites list for web sites you visit frequently?  There is an easier way to stay up-to-date! 
RSS feeds make it easier and quicker to learn about changes to websites & blogs you visit frequently.  Think of it like this: Most people don’t read the Sunday newspaper word-for-word – they scan the headlines and only read the articles that appear interesting to them. RSS collects information from web sites and displays a summarized digest of changes or updates. Then you, the reader, decide which are important enough to click on and peruse in more detail.  RSS turns "The Internet" into your own personalized Sunday paper... every day!
What is RSS? clip_image001[2]
RSS stands for... well, it depends to whom you’re speaking. Some say it means “Rich Site Summary,”  while others say “Really Simple Syndication.” "ATOM" and "xml" feeds provide a very similar service.  It’s a bunch of complex computer code that you’ll never have to actually see or work with, but it all works to make your life easier! 
How do I use RSS? clip_image001[3]
The current version of Internet Explorer version already has an RSS reader incorporated into it. When you visit a site that has an RSS feed set up, you’ll see the little icon next to your Home button (the little house) turn from grey to orange (clip_image002). Click it,then read & follow the on-screen directions to set up the feed.

Then, in the “Favorites” menu (click the yellow star near the upper left-hand corner of your Explorer window), click the button with the same orange icon marked “clip_image001[4] Feeds.” Click on the line of text that describes the site you were just visiting, and you’ll see a summary of the latest changes that were made!  (You may have to wait a bit before receiving some updates - some sites are updated hourly, some daily, some weekly, or whenever the webmaster can get around to it, like mine...!)
RSS is very similar (to casual end-users like you and me, at least) to a number of other services you may see on various sites: Atom (a similar competitor), xml (the original), and so on. Internet Explorer and RSS work well together.  Mozilla Firefox, Google Reader, and other browsers and services can also “aggregate” Atom, RSS, and other xml feeds all into one place for you.  
Try It Out!clip_image001[5]
  • Visit our Technology & Learning Resource Blog(http://tech205.blogspot.com/).
  • In the menu bar at the top of the page, find and click this symbolclip_image001[6]
  • A menu will appear.  Select “Technology Learning in District #205 – RSS” 
  • In the window that opens, you'll see a little peach-colored box. Near the bottom of this box, you'll see the words "Subscribe to this feed."
  • Then click "Subscribe." That's it - you've done it! Now you'll receive updates on professional development opportunities as I learn about and post them!
  • To read your feeds, click the "Favorites" star, then click "Feeds." Feeds with new, unread information will appear in Bold; if there are no updates to read, the feed name will appear in normal text.
If you set these up on your school computer, this will also create a RSS folder in your Outlook Mail Folders (that list of folders along the left-hand side of the email window).  So, if you'd like, you could just read them like an email instead if you'd prefer!  Whichever works best for you.  The cool part is, you can read your feeds using the Web Mail interface, so you can get updates from almost any Internet-connected device. (including some cell phones!)

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