RSS and Syndication

RSS.pngSeen this before icon before? It's the international symbol for RSS or 'Really Simple Syndication'. RSS is a powerful tool that can be used to manage online information. An RSS service consists of a list of items, each of which usually includes a headline, description, and a link to a web page.

RSS Aggregators or news readers allow you to view the feeds for all the blogs and websites you are interested in by automatically retrieving updates and publishing them in one place. These tools can help you to stay current with new content soon after it is published without filling up your e-mail box or requiring you to check a long list of various web sites. Think of it as your own personal newspaper!

This section provides information about RSS and how you can use it to manage the flow of information you are engaging in online. It includes the following information and resources:
  1. What is Really Simple Syndication?
  2. RSS Tools to manage Information
  3. RSS in Education
  4. Where to Next?

Activities for this topic

Learners who are completing the Social Networking Course should refer to the Moodle site for more information about the activities provided:
  • Activity 16: using an RSS Reader to Manage Information

1. What is RSS?

rss.JPGRSS is referred to as Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. This tool is used to feed information about resources on the World Wide Web (www). It helps make use of the richness of the www, filter out what we want from what we don’t; automatically feed information from your favourite websites; and share great resources with others.
RSS is an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) format that uses the Resource Description Framework (RDF) for representing information on the www. Atom is another format based on XML technology. For many of us, our first step into the world of networked learning is subscribing to an RSS feed, probably using a web based aggregator like bloglines. RSS is the connecting fabric of web2.0 services, providing the conduit for information flows between distributed networks. Content syndication or the re-use of information from others on the network, often characterised as mashups, it is what sets web2.0 services apart from the preceding phase of the web, comprising static pages linked by URLs (adapted from Stephan Ridgway accessed 18/12/06).

Still not clear? Well watch the following Commoncraft video on RSS

More information

FeedDigest - Display items from rss feeds on your blog, site etc., Mix multiple feeds into a single feed and much more.
RSS: What it is, Where to get it, How to make it, How to use it - A good site for resources on all things rss
7 Things you should know about RSS

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2. RSS Tools to Manage Information

There are a number of free tools on the Internet that use RSS to manage information. They are easy to use and there is a lot of self-help resources to get you started. Some of the most common RSS tools are Bloglines and Google Reader.


Bloglines has been around since 2005 and is easy to use and very reliable. Bloglines is one of the largest news and feed aggregators using RSS/Atom in the world with over 2 million users.

Google reader

Google Reader is capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online and offline.and are familiar with how it works. Google Reader is an excellent tool for managing your information and is easy to use.

Google Reader in plain English
Getting Started with Google Reader

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3. RSS in Education

RSS provides a great way for students to keep in touch with teachers and follow developments on topics of interest. This is an important skill for in teaching and learning and allows students to filter and organsie a vast amount of information that is on the web. Teachers can use RSS to keep up to date with what their students are doing and also to keep themselves up to date on current developments in their industry area.

More information

RSS in Education
More RSS in Education
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4. Where to Next?

  1. If you are completing the Social Networking Course, visit the Moodle site and complete Topic 14 RSS and Syndication.
  2. Check out the next section of the SWSI Social Networking Wiki - Social Bookmarking
  3. If you are exploring Social Networking independently, check out the Social Networking Matrix and select the tools that you can use in your teaching or learning.