Ultimately, I think weblogs may have some use in education… I think discussions of specific applications of RSS in education need to be informed by a closer examination of the context of use: who is the audience, what is the goal, and how would the new technology fit into existing patterns of use.
…web-based news aggregators would be incredibly useful as a way to inform parents and the community about school events. Forget the superintendent, who will have plenty of ways to track what’s going on in the district. Instead, enable students and educators to publish information that better connects the school to its community.
…find ways to connect educators into communities that span physical locations. This is not a new goal, and varying technologies (email listservs, real time communities like TAPPED-IN, etc.) have been used to try to achieve this. Web-based community tools offer some affordances in this area; RSS has value a part of a larger toolset. Community-authored weblogs might work here; for example, as a way to tie together all social studies teachers within a district who share many of the same goals and concerns.
These are both ideas that are fueling our Web logs as Website initiative, and as we read and think more about this I realize that the whole syndication aspect of Web logs is a huge selling point that most who are unfamiliar with it don’t quite get. (See this really interesting thread that Greg started.) But one big leap in facilitating the use of RSS has been Bloglines which, having played with it for a month or so now, has really been a very competent tool for tracking feeds through a Web interface. I know it’s not as flashy as others (Pat is gaga over NetNews Wire), but from a ease of use no software needed standpoint, it certainly has allowed me to expand my thinking about using RSS in communicating with our different audiences.