A big part of professional and personal development is staying current with research, news, and conversations among others in our fields. There are so many great and worthwhile blogs and blog-like sites that the ones in my blogroll here are just a drop in the bucket. How do you keep up with everything without clicking on 50 different blog addresses every day?
My preferred solution is to use RSS feeds. You can see the orange RSS logo on the right side of this page. Pages with RSS are kind of broadcasting their content in such a way that you can pull that format into your preferred reading place. You can get it sent to your e-mail (like old-school mailing lists, but one-way) or bundled into one place, which I think is the best solution. And yes, it’s all free.
Here’s a great little video that introduces the whole concept, by Lee LaFever. It’s less than 4 minutes long and really explains the basics of using RSS:
It’s actually even easier than that. Try it out with this site, my blog for EFL and ESL self-study, or any of the sites on the right, most of which have RSS feeds. Search for “feed” or “syndication” if you don’t immediately see a link. Most news publications have RSS feeds too, as well as some other often-updated sites such as real estate listings, and even Wikipedia. Some sites will let you create your own feed to send you updates with only the keywords you’re interested in. Students can use RSS to keep up with vocabulary sites, simple English news from various sources, podcasts, etc.
To find suggestions on the best RSS reader for you (since the above video is a little old), check out the brand-new post on Best RSS Newsreaders at Lifehacker.
Anyway, if you’re already an advanced RSS user, or if you’re really excited about it now and you’re using Google Reader, here are some Google Reader tips and tricks from LifeHacker. If you want to get more background, the Wikipedia article on RSS is a good place to start.
I think RSS is one of the most important tools for education professionals, since we really need to stay in touch and up to date without getting overwhelmed. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to help!