Looking back at the history of information sharing, it seems that we have gone from a somewhat personal form of communicating relevant information (think relying on your neighbors to learn of town news) to broadcast based communication (newspapers, TV news, Web 1.0). But that seems to be changing once again. RSS feeds are a simple way to get the news feeds you want and trust. Although there is a bit more work by the reader on the front end (deciding what is worth your time and subscribing), the news becomes much more personalized and tailored to you interests and needs. (Although this is a great positive in many ways, it does raise some concern with becoming a bit too protected from ideas that are contrary to your own or that challenge you.) Even better, the news comes to you! The information you feel you want or need shows up where you need it. It’s like having a personalized newspaper dropped on your doorstep every day (actually all day long as new news comes in). News, sports, lessons or whatever else deemed worthy is included. What a world.
It certainly seems like this can be used in the classroom by teacher and student alike. At the most basic level, a teacher can blog assignments and have students subscribe so that they always know what they should be working on. Teachers can subscribe to sources of material relevant to their subject and have students subscribe as well. Opportunities for learning and ongoing professional development abound.
On a different level, there is an opportunity to replace clunky, static textbooks with a more dynamic source. Feeds that provide lectures on subjects of interest, challenges to to test knowledge and skill and invitations to conversations with others interested in the same topic could change the way students approach their own learning. Like many other aspects of the modern internet, flexibility and interaction are key elements of RSS feeds.
While it is still a work in progress, here is a link to my Google Reader Shared items page. Enjoy.