How do you keep up with all of this? That's a question I am often asked after giving a presentation or when I meet people at conferences. One of the ways I keep up and learn about new things is through Twitter. In a guest post last winter Steven Anderson offered some great advice about using Twitter. Google+ is increasingly becoming a good way to keep up with what the people in my circles are sharing. The other way, in fact the primary way, that I keep up is through my RSS reader.
I am currently subscribed to 273 blogs and websites in my RSS reader. Those 273 subscriptions account for more than 1,000 daily posts. If I had to visit each one of those sites individually I would never have time for anything else (like walking Morrison). So what is an RSS reader and how does it help me efficiently process 1,000 or more blog posts per day? Watch the Common Craft video below to find out.
If you're an iPad user or Android tablet user, there are some excellent apps that can improve your RSS viewing and reading experience. Not that there's anything wrong with reading the raw RSS feeds in Google Reader, I did it that way for a long time, I've just found that I move through my feeds quicker on a tablet than I do when using the vertical scroll in Google Reader.
The app that I'm currently using to read RSS feeds on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet is Feedly. Feedly is available as an Android app, as an iPad app, as a Google Chrome Web App, as a Firefox extension, and as a Safari extension. Feedly takes your RSS feeds and turns them into an easy-to-read magazine-like format. You can sync your Google Reader account to Feedly and it will retain all of the categories that you may have created in Google Reader. You can also sync Feedly to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Read It Later, and Instapaper. The video below provides an overview of Feedly.
Feed Your Mind On The Go from Feedly on Vimeo.
A couple of other popular apps for reading RSS feeds on tablets are Google Currents and Flipboard.
Applications for Education
You don't have to be trying to publish 100+ blog posts a month or be trying to keep up with 273 websites in order to benefit from using an RSS reader. Even before I was blogging I was using an RSS reader. I started using an RSS reader just to keep up with news from the BBC, CNN, and Reuters. I found it much easier to have the news come to me than for me to go to the news.
If you have a favorite education periodical, like the School Library Journal, chances are they have a web presence that you can follow in RSS. If your students are doing research they can create a Google Alert and add it to their RSS readers to get updates each time new information about that topic appears on the web.