Using technology to make your life easier!
Here are two more RSS’esque readers for you to ponder both of which are truly web 2.0 power tools because they harness the power of the crowd. Toluu likes to learn from you while Social Median has a fresh take on how you select articles.
Ok so I cheated a little bit, Toluu isn’t a stand alone RSS feed reader, it actually plugs into your existing feed reader and opens a host of social aspects to your reader. You essentially are sharing what you read with others and they share with you what they are reading. It is a great way to discover new articles that are filtered to be something that you are interested in and approved by people who have similar interests as you.
Toluu does require that you be able to download your OPML file (a file that has all your existing feeds in a list) from your existing feed reader and upload it to Toluu. This is not difficult and there is plenty of documentation on how to do this for almost every feed reader. A good feature if you are just starting or have already imported your feed list and just need to add another feed to both is a bookmarklet (a bookmark button that you easily drag into you easily drag onto the bookmark bar of your browser) that lets you add feeds easily to both your existing RSS reader and Toluu simultaneously.
All of this is great if you have contacts but how do you get contacts? Toluu has a great feature called “matches” that
In short Toluu’s strength lies in it’s ability to harness the power of your contacts to help you filter what you read as well as help you discover important information that you may not have found otherwise.
+ Very social, allowing filtering and discovery from your circle of contacts
+ Not really all that much to do just upload your OPML file and your already going
+ It learns as you and your contacts filter, the more activity you have the more it learns what you like and dislike
+ Doesn’t try to replace your current RSS reader, just enhance it
– You already need an RSS feed for it to work
– Not a traditional layout for RSS feeds so it takes time to get used to
For more information on Toluu check out this article.
Unlike many RSS feeds Social Median only gives you articles from your areas of interest that other people have recommend and not from a specific website, its all filtered and voted on so you get only the best articles. Instead of having an application or a website that you go to to get your articles they are sent via email at specified times of your choosing. This makes reading articles less linear and more explorative and social. Is one better than the other? Really its apples and oranges and dependent on your preferences and if you are me you will use both styles.
Social Median really focuses on the social aspect of RSS feed reading and that is a tricky endeavor because when it is socially based it relies on the crowd to help the cream of articles rise to the top. If the crowd doesn’t exist the tool is essentially useless and fortunately there is a real good growth trend for social median.
+ Great way to discover articles outside of your regular RSS jaunts
+ RSS coming to you via your email
+ Great filtering based on what others are reading and enjoying
+ Easy way to discover new social connections based on similarities with what you look for in articles
= You will most definitely miss some good articles but also gain ones that you may never have discovered
+ Strength of filtering is based on the crowd
– Not as thorough as a regular RSS feed
Stay tuned for my finally of RSS readers where I show you how to set one up.
There are many RSS readers out there and although I gave a few options in a previous tutorial I didn’t delve very deeply into those options. So in this three part series I will delve a bit deeper into the options and how exactly to set up an RSS feed.
+Integrates directly into Firefox
+Integrates into Firefox’s bookmarking system
+Visually customizable through Cascading Style Sheets
+clean and uncluttered
= bare bones
-You need access to your browser to read your RSS feeds
-You need to use Firefox to access your RSS feeds
-Not as many social networking features
: As mentioned in a previous article Google reader comes with a Gmail account and all the other great Google products. It may not be the best RSS reader but it fits seamlessly into the Google suite, improves all the time and is the reader that I use the most. Reader
+Automatically created with your free Google account
+Integrated into the Google suite
+A good selection of social features
+User interface has a great cognitive structure that “chunks” the information well
+Always getting better
+Drag and drop functionality and collapsable folders for a tree menu
= All online and accessible from anywhere but must use a browser
-Not many extra features
-Not intuitive to set up the folders (need to click on a feed and then select feed settings)
I know everyone probably has some sort of Google account and if you don’t you have probably have heard about it. But I wanted to make sure that I wrote something about it because it is one of those fundamental online tools that you must tap into and I didn’t want to take it for granted, that and there are so many tools that people haven’t tapped into that add so much to the experience.
Google pretty much owns my life and there is a good reason for that. It’s easy, free, integrated and unified. On top of it I can gather all the Google tools that I use onto one page, my Google Homepage . This is where I have my Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and many other tools that aren’t even Google tools like the weather, or alternative search engines.
So how do you get a google Homepage? If you have a Gmail account then you already have access to the Google Homepage and ALL of the tools I have listed here and MORE you simply need to login with your Gmail account to access it and it is all FREE!
Let me elaborate on some of the tools that Google offers:
The best part of it all is that it all exists online (but you can have it run off your desktop too if you want) and is accessible from any computer in the world that have computer access.
How can I use this for education?
So what do /would you use the Google products for?
I have been using the Byline Google Reader from Phantom Fish for the past six months and over the last few months I come to realize just how much I rely on this exceptional tool. Google Reader is my RSS tool of choice and I monitor a wide assortment of blogs and sites dealing with Learning, Educational Technology, Web 2.0, Social Media and much more. So my primary criteria in selecting an iPhone reader is that is must sync seamlessly with my Google Reader–and Byline does that and much more.
Having access to my RSS feeds on my iPhone means I can use spare moments anytime and anywhere to keep up with my reading. Whether I am in a doctors or dentist office waiting room or waiting to pick up my kids from an activity I can take those spare moments and keep up to date.
The Byline interface is elegantly simple and effective. I get a list of my RSS categories that I have created in Google Reader and a number indicating how many new entries there are.
A single touch of the folder gives me a list of headlines and the site or blog title where they are from.
One more touch of the headline gives me access to the full article or post. If it something that I want to refer to later I can simply click on the star at the bottom of the screen and I can check my starred items either in Byline or in Google Reader when I am back at my laptop. I used the star functionality often because I prefer to add notes or explore a topic further when I have access to my full system. As much as I like the iPhone typing on any device this small is simply not as convenient as it is on a full keyboard.
Byline is not free but at $4.99 it can hardly be considered expensive and 5 bucks is a very small price to pay for the mobility and flexibility that this tool provides.
While I would be hard pressed to use Byline itself in the classroom or in an online course this tool and RSS readers in general are extremely valuable to instructors who are continually required to stay up to date on their area of expertise.
RSS (Real Simple Sindication) is the best way to keep up to date with websites, blogs or other sources of information. The CommonCraft video RSS in Plain English offers one of the best explanations for how RSS works and what you need to use it.
We highly recommend using the Google Reader to manage and view your RSS feeds because it is the simplest and most effective tool that we have found to date. It is fully web based and so you can access your RSS feeds from anywhere that you have internet access and a browser. If you already have a gmail account then you have access to google reader and just need to click on Reader from the top left menu when you log into your gmail account.