Since we’re getting practical around here, I just wanted to share a Pageflakes page that I’ve been using in my RSS workshops to show how anyone can create topic specific portals with feeds. This page on Darfur/Sudan (not the most uplifting topic, I know…we have much to be thankful for) is built on tag feeds from YouTube for videos, Flickr for photos, the New York Times AND the Sudan Tribune for news, del.icio.us for what people are bookmarking, and Google Blogsearch for, well, blogs. What you get is a dynamic, constantly updated page of content about what’s happening in that part of the world and what’s happening in other parts of the world in response.
From a teaching standpoint, pages of this type can be pretty effective for bringing in potential content and then making decisions about what to do with that content. Not everything that shows up here will necessarily be suitable for some ages. (I have, however, created a same page for my daughter Tess about horses that I let her read at her discretion…she’s nine.) From a student standpoint, I think it’s a great way to introduce RSS, to give kids some ownership over the type of page they create (assuming you’ve had all the responsible use conversations already) and let them start working out their own processes for consuming and deciding about content in this content rich world. And the good news is that they can keep these pages private, or they can share them with groups (or teachers) so they don’t have to be as transparent as this example.
Additionally, the Pageflakes folks have been creating some interesting edu-specific “flakes”
that teachers can use. See this page, for instance, that has among other things a grade tracker, message board, to do list, and contact list. Again, since the student has the ability to keep these portals private, there are all sorts of ways that we can start introducing RSS and content management types of skills.
Finally, let me just emphasize the idea that in this environment when we can start collecting information from so many different sources around the globe, it’s imperative that we be modeling ways to do that. Imagine the types of global newspapers you could build around relevant topics with something like this. If we continue to just get the US perspective, I think we’re wasting a huge opportunity to expand and challenge our thinking.