RSS Feeds Assignment: How Using These Tools Can Enhance Educational Research and Put you in Touch with Digital Innovations in Comics

The Google Reader allows you to keep track of RSS feeds of interest to you, whether they concern themselves with digital education or digital comics.

I became acquainted with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds because of my work with online publishing outlets. At that time, it was suggested to me as a writer for these sites to use them to develop an online readership base. The editors of the sites not only actively encouraged to find places that we could place our columns’ RSS feeders, but also to use social media to gain subscribers and people who would promote the feed. However, because of this assignment I am looking at the RSS feed from the other side of the table so to speak.

Classroom Uses for the RSS Feed

Using RSS feeds in the classroom and for education in general presents several advantages. The first advantage is that it has the ability to bring information to directly to you, specific to your research preferences and/ or your work/ teaching interests. You don’t have to perform a Google or Bing search each time you want to find articles of interest. Rather, you just find a few RSS feeds that are relevant to your interest and save them in your RSS reader folder.

The second factor related to using RSS as a tool in education is that subscribing to RSS feeds can help save you a tremendous amount of time and allow you to filter the results by your specific criteria—for example, for an education RSS, you may want to choose only scholarly sources. This helps you automatically weed out research sources that wouldn’t be appropriate for a college level assignment such as user-generated content sites such as Wikipedia.

Additionally, this type of search tool puts you in touch with resources on the web that you might never see otherwise because of search engine filtering. What I mean by this is that when most people search Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., they will usually only look at the results for about the first five pages before they give up on a search term, according to Infinity Technologies. In context this means that if you’re the teacher or the student looking for good resources for your classroom, for a report or for work, you may miss some of the best information resources simply because the website or blog owner doesn’t understand about keyword optimization, which will put their pages beyond the first five. Subscribing to an RSS feed will help you see more of these pages that don’t make it to the first five pages of Google, because you’re searching by different criteria.

Long-Term Research Ideas

The other advantage that I can see to the RSS feed as it specifically relates to using it in education is that it allows you to follow a subject of interest over a long period of time. For example, one of the areas of research that I hope to delve into more deeply is using graphic novels–both the hard-bound and online kind–in the classroom and in education, and to add even more specifics to the search, I may want to follow what people are saying about something like the New 52 at DC Comics. This is not only a reboot of the most of the major characters like Batman and the Flash and their storylines, but also a change in the comics’ distribution. With the release of the New 52, digital versions of the comics will “hit the stands” on the same day as the hard-back versions. I could create a research project about this where I examine how technology has affected the distribution of comics.

To this end, I could start following some RSS feeds that give me ideas for research projects that I could do related to this theme. The RSS feeds would put the information about the reboot right at my finger tips everyday in a place that I could bookmark on my desktop and come back to each day. Additionally, I may find out through the course of my research that digital tools like iPads, Android phones, or tablet readers like Kindle are going to play a big part in the distribution of comics in general, so for a more well-rounded report, I would subscribe to a few RSS feeds that deal with digital tools in publishing or comics, mobile apps for comics and graphic novels, or other general topics that would help support my research.

Aligning with the AECT Standards

An assignment like this would adhere to several of the AECT standards. The use of the RSS feeder fall under the 4.4 AECT standard of information management. It allows for the planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning. The RSS feeder allows you to manage the information by organizing it logically into folders. It also helps you share the information, because you can share the link to your Google Reader page as we are doing for the RSS for education assignment and with the Teaching Resources Bundle that we’ve created.

Here is the link to my Teaching Resources Bundle. (Click on the red hyperlink that says “Teaching Resources Bundle” to be taken there.)

Finally, by adding graphic novels and phones/ tablets to this example, this type of assignment could also fall under AECT standard 2.1 which is defined as print technologies that provide “ways to produce or deliver materials, such as books and static visual materials, primarily through mechanical or photographic printing processes.”

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Ed Tech 501 Introduction Video for Buffy Naillon

This is my Ed Tech introduction video for Ed Tech 501. It aligns with the AECT Standard 2.4 Integrated Technologies, which states,

“Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 40). Integrated technologies are typically hypermedia environments which allow for: (a) various levels of learner control, (b) high levels of interactivity, and (c) the creation of integrated audio, video, and graphic environments. Examples include hypermedia authoring and telecommunications tools such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web.”

The video fits these standards because of its interactivity, which includes elements of audio, video, and graphic environments. Making the video required me to use all of these elements in order to make the video entertaining to watch and informative.

Additionally, I had to follow the guidelines for creating the video as set down by the class’s professor, Dr. Kemp. Here were the criteria from the assignment’s rubric, and the video meets each of these criteria as well.

  • Video is no more than 5 minutes. (5 points)
  • Video is titled “EDTECH 501 Introduction Video” on YouTube video page. (5 points)
  • Video includes discussion of why student is pursuing a degree in educational technology. (20 points)
  • Video includes discussion of what student hopes to achieve. (20 points)
  • Video is engaging and interesting to watch. (10 points)
  • Video includes excellent audio and video quality. (10 points)
  • Student effort is clearly apparent in video. (10 points)

Finally, I opted to use GoAnimate.com to create the video instead of using a traditional video format for the following reasons:

  1. I wanted to challenge myself to try something new. I’d seen videos made by Go Animate before, but never tried the site out, and I figured that—for me—the purpose of this degree is to introduce to as many kinds of new technology as possible, so this was a way for me to do that.
  2. I wanted to do something that I thought would be fun and a little different. On a personal level, I love cartoons and illustration and this was my way of allowing myself to work with these elements a bit.
  3. I wanted to explore some different options on the chance that I wind up doing some teaching; I can pass this technology on to any prospective students, because I’ll know how to use it.
  4. I wanted to have something in my portfolio that was related to animation. I love animation, illustration, art, etc., so if possible I’d like to try to make those the focus of my work as much as possible (within the framework of the MET).

It took me about 12 hours to finish the video all told, because I had to learn how to use the program, see what kinds of backgrounds that the site offered and I also had to pay attention to each facial and physical gesture and program each of them in and some scenes had several. I created the video on Windows XP, using the GoAnimate.com interface, which did not require me to download software onto my computer.