What is RSS?Edit

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an XML-based format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. It is a time-saving way to receive news and information updates from a number of sites in one central location. Simply put - think of RSS as your own personal wire service.

Its syndication format enables anyone to share his/her comments, news headlines, descriptions, and links to recent articles with other Web content providers as well as users of a variety of devices such as PDAs, cell phones, e-mails ticklers, and voice update pagers. An ever-growing number Web sites (including weblogs) generate a behind-the-scenes code written in XML, a markup language that is used to describe data. This code, usually referred to as a “feed” or “news feed,” makes it possible for readers to “subscribe” to the content that is created on a particular Web site so they no longer have to visit the site itself to retrieve the information.

To illustrate, say a science teacher has found 35 to 40 weblogs and media sites consistently being updated daily on relevant information of his/her interests. Managing the time to visit those sites on a regular basis would be difficult. This is where RSS comes in handy as it allows him/her to go to one place to read all the new content from all of those sites. This is possible because RSS uses a type of software called an “aggregator” or feed collector to check the feeds one subscribes to, usually every hour, collects all the new content from those sites, and brings it to the subscriber.

Still confuse? (read this)

Rationale for RSSEdit

  • Syndicates all sorts of things -- news articles, blogs, bookmarks, Internet radio shows, Internet television shows, software updates, e-mails, mailing lists, music playlists, etc.
  • Provides an efficient way to organize information resources
  • Improves productivity - no more searching site by siteN BNJJHHJK

Uses of RSS in EducationEdit

For educators, the potential significance of RSS is extensive. Faculties and schools could use this syndication process to communicate with students, parents, newspapers, and other members of the school’s community. In the classrooms, teachers who have students create their own weblogs can easily keep tabs on what those students are posting by subscribing to their students’ feeds. This way the teacher will no longer have to look in 25 different places to track his/her students’ work. Likewise, the students can keep tabs on the latest class assignments and announcements by subscribing to their teacher’s feeds. If school websites were built on a foundation of weblogs, as with Lewis Elementary, parents could subscribe to different feeds that are relevant to their children. Similarly, if an entire school district were to incorporate weblogs at each school, the superintendent could subscribe to the feeds to review all the news and events in a single interface without having to visit all 50 schools’ websites.

In higher education, RSS is already in use in some colleges. Public-relations offices find RSS to be an effective way to distribute news about their institutions. Administrators use it to inform students about campus news and events, such as sports, concerts, and career fairs. Researchers use outsourcing software development to share information with colleagues. Some colleges use it to get their research data out to the public more quickly and effectively. One such example is Texas A&M University who uses RSS feeds to notify farmers and anyone else who is interested in agricultural news and research.

RSS Ideas for EducatorsEdit

Please see this excellent source for ideas.
(This document begins with the basics -- explaining the technologies available, how they work, outlining various applications to use, illustrated tutorial on getting started, and then finally a descriptive list of some great ideas.)

Education RSS FeedsEdit

  • - Delivers headlines from ED press releases, funding opportunities, No Child Left Behind, and federal learning resources through RSS.
  • Edu_RSS - Stephen Downes's one-stop source for today's top writers in educational technology.
  • eSchool News - Delivers news and information necessary to help K-12 decision-makers use technology and the Internet to transform schools and achieve educational goals.
  • Merlot - A free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education.
  • NPR - Education - Delivers the latest NPR news and information in education.


To learn more about RSSEdit

RSS AggregatorsEdit

Desktop Aggregators for Mac OS X

Desktop Aggregators for Windows

Cross-Platform Desktop Aggregators

Web-based Aggregators


1. What are the advantages of using RSS?

  • RSS is a fast and easy way to read content from websites you visit on a regular basis.
  • Once you’ve subscribed to a website’s RSS “feed,” you don’t have to check to see when it’s been updated – it will be delivered to you automatically.
  • RSS is ideal for tracking information that’s updated frequently. People are finding new uses for it all the time, but it’s popular for news headlines, event calendars, and weblog entries.

2. What do I need to use RSS?

  • Using RSS is a like e-mail - you can either access it through a website or a software program.
  • Free websites where you can set up an account to track your RSS feeds include feeds include My Yahoo!, Bloglines, and NewsGator.
  • Another option is to download and install a program directly on to your computer. Some free programs include Pluck and Lektora.

3. How do I sign up for a website’s RSS feed?

  • The first step is to determine if it offers a feed. Look for the small orange graphic that has text like “RSS” or “XML.” This will link to the site’s RSS feed.
  • How you actually sign up for a website’s feed depends on the program or website you’re using. But you will need to look for its feed URL in the address bar of your web browser.
  • For some software programs, such as NewsGator’s plug in for Outlook, all you need to do is select a website’s RSS feed symbol to automatically subscribe.
  • If you’re using the Firefox web browser, you can access your RSS feeds through its “Live Bookmarks” function.


Carnevale, D. (2004). A new technology lets colleges spread information to people who want it. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(23), 31. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from ProQuest database.

Descy, D. (2005). All abroad the internet: introducing RSS: your one stop for news and information. TechTrends, 49(3), 4. Retrieved March 2, 2006, from ProQuest database.

Kaplan-Leiserson, E. (2004, May). RSS: a learning technology. Learning Circuits. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from

Lohnes, S. (2004). Managing information with RSS. The Newsletter of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from

Richardson, W. (2004, January). Blogging and RSS – the “what’s it?” and “how to” of powerful new web tools for educators. Information Today. Retrieved March 2, 2006, from

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