National Writing Project

Digital Toolbox: RSS

Date: January 30, 2009

Summary: RSS allows readers of blogs, wikis, and other online forums to subscribe to "feeds" in order to receive notifications of new or updated content in their RSS reader.


RSS explained "in plain English"

Writing project teachers and their colleagues have found tapping into the power of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to be very useful to their teaching and learning practices. RSS allows readers of blogs, wikis, and other online forums to receive new content from those spaces in one place—their RSS reader—rather than having to go to the individual sources.

Similar to a broadcast, RSS provides "feeds" to subscribers who are interested in getting updates on content provided by online writers.

Why use RSS?

Teachers and students can access the power of RSS through the use of RSS readers. Because different blogs and websites can be gathered around a topic of interest and read together over time, RSS can support reading, research, and iSearch projects . Teachers can use RSS as a professional tool for following the writing of other educators or even reading blogs within a classroom of student bloggers.

The list of websites being followed by any RSS reader can also be shared, via a list of links called a "blogroll," to support a larger community of readers and writers in finding each others content.

How do I start using RSS?

First, choose an RSS reader. Popular RSS readers include Bloglines , Google Reader , and Friend Feed . Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail programs also include RSS readers.

Second, visit the blogs, wikis, and websites that you would like to read. You will see an RSS icon or a "Subscribe" link if that resource is broadcasting its material via RSS. Click on the icon or link to show the URL of the feed that you want to subscribe to. Add this URL to your chosen RSS reader. RSS can support text, images, videos, and audio.

Requirements for Use

Users typically create an account to use an RSS reader and must have Internet access.

Subscribe to NWP RSS Feeds

NWP RSS feeds keep you up to date by providing brief summaries and links to newly posted items on, including press releases, resources, key publications, and events.

Related Resource Topics

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