Just an update on my ongoing experiments with using RSS as a continuous research tool for teachers or students. Frankly, I’m still amazed at the concept that we can pretty much automate our research into a particular topic that we want to follow on a regular basis. (I know I still haven’t understood all of the implications of this as another idea on how to use this just occurred to me now.) Anyway, for the past few months I’ve been running searches on Google, Feedster, and Bloglines and then aggregating the RSS results feeds into my Bloglines account. It’s become pretty clear that the last two are more effective than the Google search, which in some ways surprised me. I guess I originally thought that since Google searches such a huge number of Websites, it would generate more results. But the fact is that the bloggers included in the Feedster and Bloglines searches are better at sifting through all those pages and culling what is most relevant to what I’m looking for. I’d say about 75% of the links that come back lead to something potentially interesting. Not so with Google.
Anyway, with Manila’s viewRssBox macro, it’s not a great leap to set up pages dedicated to certain search terms that might be relevant in class and just have the most recent results just show up when you access the page. Put a few of these feeds on the same page and you can start building a pretty comprehensive resource for a particular unit or theme. Or use it on a departmental home page. Or…well, you get the idea. Not rocket science, I know, but more than enough to keep me interested.