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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Introducing students to RSS

RSS After the great feedback on last week's post Introducing students to social bookmarking, I'd like to move on and consider how we are going to integrate RSS into our personal learning environment (PLE) strategy for students in September 2008. RSS is going to be central to this project, both for students pulling information and resources into their PLEs, and later, for us to be able to assess the Web 2.0 resources they contribute to and produce, including their ePortfolios.
For many years, we've run a bibliographic databases exercise early in our key skills I.T. course, and we'll do so again next year. It seems logical to follow on directly with RSS so that students can pull down resources relevant to their modules.

Objective:
To introduce students to RSS feeds as a means of both acquiring and publishing information.

Implementation:
Students will receive an introduction to RSS via the VLE incorporating information about and links to a range of RSS aggregators (Google Reader, Bloglines, Netvibes/PageFlakes).

Assessment:
1. Students will be required to
open a Google account in their UoL username (or an assigned derivative if that account name is already taken) and to subscribe to at least six feeds (four? five?) related to their academic course, at least two from peer-reviewed journals and other of general interest, e.g. BBC News Health/Science, Google News keyword-targeted feed.

2. To embed an immersive pattern of RSS feed use, students will be required to tag and share - preferably with an added note - at least six (four? five?) items (in total) per week. (Shared items which are not tagged will not count towards the mark).

In week 10 we will assess (via the shared items RSS feed) whether they have completed the task and award marks or otherwise via the VLE gradebook. (Students will be advised that that can have multiple Google accounts if they wish for professional and social use).

Allocation of marks?

How do we encourage students to share the task of resource discovery?

What could go wrong? Answers on a postcard below please.


11 comments:

  1. would students taking an RSS from their own delicious account/tags or from their friends delicious accounts also be counted?

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  2. For the second part of the assessment, I want to emphasise the resource discovery/social aspects, so yes, I'd say if they subscribed to a social del.icio.us RSS feed (e.g. uolbsyear1), we should give them marks for that, but not if they simply form cartels and swap subscriptions with friends.

    However, you have identified a problem. They will probably get the RSS session before we introduce them to social bookmarking, so I can't see them using del.icio.us initially at least.

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  3. I cover RSS in the "Keeping up to Date" class I do for the Student Learning Centre, and really just demo Bloglines and show some of the things that can provide an RSS feed. It'll be interesting to see how it goes with your students.

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  4. Thanks Keith, you'd be welcome to sit in on these sessions if you like.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "1. Students will be required to open a Google account in their UoL username (or an assigned derivative if that account name is already taken) and to subscribe to at least six feeds (four? five?) related to their academic course, at least two from peer-reviewed journals and other of general interest, e.g. BBC News Health/Science, Google News keyword-targeted feed."

    I think it would be good to identify several classes of feed:

    a) blog feeds - personal, informal publishing; eg http://feeds.feedburner.com/SOTI
    b) news feeds - 'formal publishing' eg http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_uk_edition/sci/tech/rss.xml
    c) saved searches/alerts - eg http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=mitochondrial+dna&format=rss (via autodiscovery - no rss button on page? ?? need to mention autodiscovery : i) in browser; ii) by blog readers?), or http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=mitochondrial+dna&ie=UTF-8&output=rss (NOTE that google news offers RSS or Atom feeds.... ;-) OR saved searches/alerts from journals? eg pubmed (run a search, change 'Send to' option to RSS and get custom feed)
    d) TOC - regularly scheduled formal publication eg something from http://www.biologyrss.com/
    e) ??how a podcast? eg http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/
    f) ??georss and more exotic uses of feeds etc etc
    g) feeds from a social bookmarking site?
    h) feeds from job/funding alerts sites?
    i) dailyrss feeds ;-) http://openlearnigg.corank.com (also 'static' openlearn unit content feeds)
    j) local UoL feeds?

    "2. To embed an immersive pattern of RSS feed use, students will be required to tag and share - preferably with an added note - at least six (four? five?) items (in total) per week. (Shared items which are not tagged will not count towards the mark)."

    Will the recommendation feeds from google reader be syndicated anywhere (eg on a course page; this question also applies to your social bookmarrking activities?)

    Are you going to mention OPML? OPML of an indl students feeds? OPML of students OPML feeds etc??

    "How do we encourage students to share the task of resource discovery?"

    Dunno - but i do think you can unpack what is shared:
    a) sharing of individual resources (ie single feed items; eg a particular post on a particular feed;)
    b) sharing of productive feeds (ie a found/discovered "potential resource" pipeline)
    c) sharing of saved search strategies: site+search query construction tips (a student created/engineered "potential resource" pipeline)


    "What could go wrong?"
    - too many feeds?
    - subscription to feeds that don't update (so donlt see the point) or feeds that update too rapidly...
    - what frequency do you expect people to look at feeds with, and for how long?

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  6. ps also blog comment feeds fro keeping track of a discussion

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  7. @Tony:
    > I think it would be good to identify several classes of feed:
    a) blog feeds - personal, informal publishing
    b) news feeds - 'formal publishing' eg http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_uk_edition/sci/tech/rss.xml
    c) saved searches/alerts - eg http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=mitochondrial+dna&format=rss (via autodiscovery - no rss button on page? ?? need to mention autodiscovery : i) in browser; ii) by blog readers?), or
    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=mitochondrial+dna&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
    (NOTE that google news offers RSS or Atom feeds.... ;-) OR saved
    searches/alerts from journals? eg pubmed (run a search, change 'Send to'
    option to RSS and get custom feed)
    d) TOC - regularly scheduled formal publication eg something from
    http://www.biologyrss.com/
    e) ??how a podcast? eg http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/
    f) ??georss and more exotic uses of feeds etc etc
    g) feeds from a social bookmarking site?
    h) feeds from job/funding alerts sites?
    i) dailyrss feeds ;-) http://openlearnigg.corank.com (also 'static'openlearn unit content feeds)
    j) local UoL feeds?

    Excellent summary, thanks. The first year course this is aimed at covers a wide range of technical ability, but for assessment purposes, we can't go too far as we need to encompass the whole group. I think we should demonstrate something like b, c, d, e (I hadn't really thought about podcasts), j and let them choose. g is problematic because of the order topics run in, so we'll come back to that when they come to social bookmarking later.
    Autodiscivery is also problematic because private subscriptions via the browser can't be assessed, but students will complain becuase they have subscribed to a feed. I'm staying away from blogs altogether on this course bacause they provoke hostility from certain colleagues, being seen as non-academic.


    > Will the recommendation feeds from google reader be syndicated anywhere (eg
    > on a course page; this question also applies to your social bookmarking
    > activities?)

    I can share some of the "star finds" via the VLE, and maybe on the School page Jo? Sharing and resource discovery is I hope inherent in the social bookmarking exercise we discussed last week.


    > Are you going to mention OPML? OPML of an indl students feeds? OPML of
    > students OPML feeds etc??

    No, we just won't have time for this group, many of whom are quitre technophobic. We'll review this in future years.


    >> "How do we encourage students to share the task of resource discovery?"
    > Dunno - but I do think you can unpack what is shared:
    > a) sharing of individual resources (ie single feed items; eg a particular
    > post on a particular feed;)
    > b) sharing of productive feeds (ie a found/discovered "potential resource" pipeline)
    > c) sharing of saved search strategies: site+search query construction tips (a student created/engineered "potential resource" pipeline)

    Yes, we need to engineer collaboration into the design.


    >> "What could go wrong?"
    > - too many feeds?
    > - subscription to feeds that don't update (so don't see the point) or feeds
    > that update too rapidly...
    > - what frequency do you expect people to look at feeds with, and for how
    > long?

    And lots of other things ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Autodiscivery is also problematic because private subscriptions via the browser can't be assessed, but students will complain becuase they have subscribed to a feed."

    [I thought my typing was bad... ;-)]

    The point about autodiscovery was more along the lines that there is a mechanism for publishers to declare the location with in a web page that feed readers (online as well as browsers) can 'machine read'. So eg (even though you aren't doing blogs ;-) you can post the HTML pointing URL of a blog homepage or a particular blog post, and the feed reader will usually be able to sniff the RSS and subscribe to it.

    Re browser subscriptions, with firefox/flock at least you can configure it to subscribe a feed to an online feedreader; so if you ever see the address bar in the browser pop up an orange feed icon, you know there is something subscribable to on that page

    ReplyDelete
  9. "> Will the recommendation feeds from google reader be syndicated anywhere (eg
    > on a course page; this question also applies to your social bookmarking
    > activities?)

    "I can share some of the "star finds" via the VLE, and maybe on the School page Jo? Sharing and resource discovery is I hope inherent in the social bookmarking exercise we discussed last week."

    Or indl student favourite feeds could be aggregated and fed into eg a pligg/foundit like system?
    or they could be aggregated and offered as one of the feeds that students can subscribe to?

    If students do manage to subscribe to a Greader favourites feed, you demonstrate a feed publishing cycle - consume n feeds, publish a feed of items pulled from those n feeds, allow others to consume that human recommendation feed, etc

    ReplyDelete
  10. > The point about autodiscovery was more along the lines that there is a
    > mechanism for publishers to declare the location with in a web page that
    > feed readers (online as well as browsers) can 'machine read'. So eg (even
    > though you aren't doing blogs ;-) you can post the HTML pointing URL of a
    > blog homepage or a particular blog post, and the feed reader will usually be
    > able to sniff the RSS and subscribe to it.
    > Re browser subscriptions, with firefox/flock at least you can configure it
    > to subscribe a feed to an online feedreader; so if you ever see the address
    > bar in the browser pop up an orange feed icon, you know there is something
    > subscribable to on that page

    Sadly, most of our students will use IE because that's what the
    University prescribes (FF is banned at UoL!). IE subscription
    handling is much worse than FF/Flock. Many students will be confused
    about the difference between private in-browser subscriptions and
    aggregator subscriptions. To them, a subscription is a subscription.


    > Or indl student favourite feeds could be aggregated and fed into eg a
    > pligg/foundit like system?
    > or they could be aggregated and offered as one of the feeds that students
    > can subscribe to?
    > If students do manage to subscribe to a Greader favourites feed, you
    > demonstrate a feed publishing cycle - consume n feeds, publish a feed of
    > items pulled from those n feeds, allow others to consume that human
    > recommendation feed, etc

    Good, but I think we're straying into the realm of "advanced studies".
    This is a very basic course, but I'm sure the brighter students will
    pick up on these possibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "This is a very basic course, but I'm sure the brighter students will
    pick up on these possibilities."

    Just show them a picture of uroboros (sp?) - hmm, would the head be an RSS icon?

    ReplyDelete