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The World of RSS

March 13, 2006 by Doug Worsham

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What is RSS?

Have you noticed those little orange boxes with letters in them on many of the news sites you visit? Wondering what they do or what they are for?

Well, they are called RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) feeds which allow you to have the latest news delivered directly to you, instead of having to revisit site after site after site.

All you have to do is subscribe to the RSS feeds from the sites that interest you. Many feeds are for syndicating news sites, including major news providers like CNN, and our own LSS Department. But it's not just for news. RSS could be also used to inform people of new articles published in an online journal or for new entries to personal weblogs. Pretty much anything that can be broken down into separate items can be syndicated via RSS.

To start using RSS, you need a special news reader or aggregator that displays RSS content feeds from Web sites you select. A news aggregator, or news feed reader, can be compared to an email program. Instead of bringing in email messages for you to read, the aggregator collects and displays RSS feeds from your subscribed sites. There are many different news readers available that you can download and install on your computer, many of which are free of charge. The software allows you to access and read the new content from the RSS feeds. These feeds contain a headline, summary and a link which takes you to the webpage where the information originates.

Check out RSS Compendium - RSS Readers for an extensive list of possible readers you can download. Another interesting service is Bloglines, which lets you aggregate RSS feeds, but also publish a blog.

Once you have set up your news reader, you simply subscribe to the RSS content feeds you want. Within no time you will be receiving the latest news headlines or other requested information to keep you on top of what’s going on, all thanks to RSS.

There are also endless opportunities to incorporate RSS feeds into your classroom curriculum. Imagine having your students subscribing to feeds from a popular foreign language newspaper in order to cover a specific story over a period of time; or small groups track the current trends in fashion, sports, films, etc, from specific foreign periodicals and report their findings to the class. New technology brings new and interesting ways to enliven the classroom and get students enthused about learning. Take advantage of RSS feeds and the ways it makes receiving news easy and useful.

If you have any questions or would like help with RSS feeds, please contact any of the LSS staff members.

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