Volume 3, Issue 13 - December 3, 2006

"RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is the standard for updating content online. Originally developed by Netscape, it has been used for years by web portals that have wanted to display everything from news and weather to features and sports scores on the fly. With the advent of blogging, RSS became a more personal tool for the rest of us, as RSS feeds became available for syndicating material on what is being termed the “Web 2.0.”

What do they mean by syndication? It’s the regular distribution of material as it is made available. Think of your favorite syndicated writers who appear in newspapers, magazines and now online. Then again, think of serial syndication such as Dickens’ publishing Old Curiosity Shop published in monthly installments in 1840 and 1841 in a London periodical or Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities in Rolling Stone magazine.

One of the liberating features of RSS is that your web content can now be shared across multiple web sites to help get your ideas out to a much larger audience. A decade ago if you had original material that you wanted to share with other educators, you needed word of mouth and search engine awareness to lead an audience to your work. Now all you need is an RSS feed to send access to anyone who may be looking for the kind of material you are offering: original web content, student work, blog entries, podcasts, and more.

The key to RSS is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) document that lists the source web address and each item of interest at that address that is available for syndication. It can be done by just typing in the code into a word processing document or by using a product such as Feed for All to ask you the right questions about what you want to syndicate and then convert the information into an XML document. See for an example.Not only can you post RSS feeds on services like Blogger and iTunes, but the most current browsers will even allow you to collect and manage RSS feeds. It’s becoming that commonplace!

Imagine the possibilities for publishing and sharing student work and class projects with the world. Imagine the way this technology can empower your students as authors and members of the 21st century Read-Write Web community! I hope this issue of D12 gives you lots of options and ideas for using RSS!"

©2005 Walter McKenzie

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