**RSS has been around for a while, and it has already drastically changed how I access & consume web content. It was the seed that started my PLN growth in my first year as a teacher, so I understand how useful and powerful it can be in our world of information overload. But without access to individual learning devices until last school year, I had not REALLY thought about how it could impact my students. Well, now I have, and I am really excited.**
While I eagerly await the announcement about the status of a grant I wrote to add 3 more iPads to my classroom for next year, I am continually seeking to make the one
I do have (I won
) the best possible learning tool for my students. This involves seeking out quality free or low-cost apps & lesson ideas
for curriculum innovation, particularly those opportunities for empowering learners to follow their passions. I recently wrote a review
for two "magazine" style iPad apps that have impacted me in regards to content consumption for entertainment and personal learning and that process got me very excited to find a way my students could take advantage of RSS feeds on this device as well. (If you are unfamiliar with the concept of RSS, watch this
It did not take long to find a perfect app for aggregating feeds for students and packaging them into a user-friendly format on the iPad. That app would be Pulse
. It is not as visually appealing as Flipboard and is not really a "magazine", but it is very useful for putting TONS of learning content in one place for students to read, evaluate, react to, share, etc. This is going to solve a big "management" issue for me while using two iOS shared devices- pointing the students in the direction they needed to go! Pulse pulls in your Google Reader content feeds and allows you to place them on different pages so that they can be read, watched, listened to, etc. FROM ALL ONE PLACE. From a teaching standpoint, the fewer the clicks it takes a student to get to the learning , the better! There are no distractions... just CATEGORIES & CONTENT. Sweet!
- First, make sure you have a Google Reader account set up. I use a "classroom" Google account to keep my personal feeds, email & Docs separate. (Watch this 1 min. summary of Google Reader if you need to.) At this time Pulse appears to only support Google Reader.
Use Google Reader on the web to set up your feeds.
- Second, (and this was the fun part for me) find some awesome material that you want your students to interact with & check if it has an RSS feed associated with it. Later I will list the feeds which I have subscribed to for my 4th graders. Here is an example of some regularly updated, kid-friendly content on Sports Illustrated for Kids with a link to the RSS feed.
RSS subscription links on a website.
- Next, grab the RSS link/URL & paste it into Google Reader (see step 1 picture). Note that there are add-ons for Firefox and Google Chrome that will display an RSS icon in your address bar whenever there is a feed for the site you are on.
Browser address bar with RSS feed URL.
After you have downloaded the Pulse app, you are ready to customize it for your students.
Login with Google Reader on Pulse
Once you decide what "pages" you will categorize your RSS content in and add some feeds, it becomes clear how simple, but powerful, this app can be for students. Pulse seems to work well with both text and multimedia content, as you can easily switch to a "web" view within the app to view images, play videos or listen to audio (think podcasts). And would would an iOS app be without "social" sharing built right in?? I look forward to our class bloggers and tweeters being able to seamlessly post updates via our class Twitter account
or through email to our Posterous blog
Text article view on Pulse.
Viewing a video from the "web" view.
In addition to outside web content I also added a page to pull in our own class accounts. By grabbing the RSS feed for our Weebly blog
, etc. it can be a "home base" for students to read & view material that is posted by their peers or by me in our various online learning community spaces.
Personal class account feeds.
So what is so great about giving kids access to RSS feeds on the iPad (or on any device)? The interesting, engaging & valuable educational content that is online for free!
And when it is "pushed" to the app without any clicks or touches (after your initial set-up) it gets the students reading, synthesizing, responding & sharing
RIGHT AWAY. It can be used across all subjects in the curriculum & for any level of thinking on Bloom's ladder
. It can simply be a "DEAR" (reading) activity or be a tool for any lesson. Students can read work from their peers around the world or can view professional material from the publishers we are familiar with. I am very much looking forward to the improved efficiencies of engagement with our shared iPad(s)? this coming year in my classroom because of the Pulse app. My next post will discuss in detail the RSS content I have added for my 4th graders. **While this post focuses on "consumption" activities on an iPad, that is only a fraction of what it can do & this app is only one of hundreds that I have loaded. My mind is overflowing with ideas & apps that could be used for students to CREATIVELY interact with the learning material discovered via RSS.
How have you used RSS in your classroom? What RSS reader apps for the iPad are you using for student use? What feeds do you subscribe to? What are some lessons or projects that have benefitted from the availability of RSS in your class? I welcome your feedback!