Saturday, March 19, 2011

RSS or How Do You Keep Up With All of This?

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 his guest post Steven Anderson recently offered some great advice about using Twitter. The other way, in fact the primary way, that I keep up is through my RSS reader.

I am currently subscribed to 257 blogs and websites in my RSS reader. Those 257 sites 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.

Applications for Education
You don't have to be trying to publish 100+ blog posts a month 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.

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Maine. After a day of 60F temperatures we're back to snow. But that's okay, I have blog posts to write for all of you. Including this week's Week in Review.

Here are the most popular posts of the week:
1. Interactive Maps and Images About the Earthquake in Japan
2. Time Lapse Visualization of the Earthquake in Japan
3. 5 Periodic Table Games
4. Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Problem Explained
5. Popplet - Interactive Mind Maps and Sticky Notes
6. Loads of Great Teacher Training Videos
7. New Discussion Features in Google Docs

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Build Your Own Games and Enter the Kodu Cup

Microsoft's Kodu is a free Windows-based program that anyone can use to create video games without writing code. The drag and drop interface relies on users being able to manage "if/ then" scenarios to design a rich gaming experience. Kodu users create the setting (trees, mountains, rivers, etc), specify the roles and place characters in their games, and program what players can and cannot do in their games.

To encourage game development through Kodu, Microsoft is hosting the Kodu Cup. The Kodu Cup is a contest for kids between the ages of nine and seventeen. The contest asks entrants to design their best games and submit them for judging. There are two age groups and the winner in each will receive $5,000 cash and a trip to New York.

Applications for Education
Microsoft has published a selection of guides for teachers and trainers and a classroom kit for teachers who are interested in using Kodu in school. Click here to view the suggested math lessons associated with Kodu.

There are a lot of Kodu tutorials on YouTube, below are a couple to get you started.

H/T to Audrey Watters at RWW.