Now I don’t just TALK a good RSS

Oh, sure, I know how to do it. I get what the orange symbols mean and I tell other people how to use social bookmarking for their classes. But do I do it? No. Not yet. I’m waiting for my History of England to be an honors sections, and everything to go all student-created and constructivist because I’ll only have 25 students instead of 40.

But then, the “need” hit. Some students have trouble finding primary sources (or even recognizing them, as I’ve noted). And I enjoy looking for English primary sources as much as the next person… well, ok, more.

I’m so frustrated with my textbook for the class that in looking for a better one, I was of course considering not using one at all. I went to a site that has a huge book-type thing ( but it now has so many flashing ads it could induce seizure. So I checked out the BBC history site, and there was so much good stuff. But they’ve already told me on the evals, they really want a printed textbook.

In looking at the cool sites, however, I came across some good collections of primary sources, Adding such sources is the half of the whole discussion idea, since last fall. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to collect all the cool sites I was finding? I started to bookmark them in Firefox and thought, that’s dumb. So I began collecting them in Diigo. First I tagged them “hist105”, as I do everything related to that class.

Then I started adding a “hist105resources” tag. I went into my Diigo bookmarks, confined the list to that tag, and copied the RSS button’s code (right click, copy link location).

Then I went into Moodle, and added a Remote RSS Feed block to the main course page, pasting in the RSS code. I called it “A few primary source sites”.

I realize I could go even further. I searched on Diigo and no one else uses the tag. I could have students use Diigo and tag what they find, and it will be automatically added to the block so long as I change to the RSS button code on the page referencing everyone’s tag, not just mine. That would take 2 seconds to do.

But…one step at a time. If I have them use the tag and collect, I’ll have to teach them Diigo and bookmarking and tagging as well as how to identify a primary source. That on top of a textbook, my lectures, seven quizzes, a weekly discussion requiring posting and thesis writing seems like to much. For me, if not for them!

But at least now, I’m not just talking RSS — I’m using it for an actual class.

4 thoughts on “Now I don’t just TALK a good RSS

  1. Diigo rocks pretty hard, and particularly for this kind of neat trick. While many of my students don’t get into it beyond what I require for a particular course, those who do fall for it fall pretty hard, and continue to use it for just about everything they do online.


  2. This is great stuff, Lisa. I have done some of this kind of focused bookmarking for some classes but I had not thought of it as a tool for focusing on primary sources–and have students engage in the search! Thanks for the inspiration.


  3. In response to you comment “so frustrated with my textbook for the class “, I thought of the recent article in the Chronicle -“Purdue Professor Embeds Hyperlinks in Printed Books”
    His idea is to create textbooks complete with links (possibly to primary sources) by printing QR coded pictures next to the writing. The technology is fairly old and can be created by anyone with the free QR 2.0 applications (more here)
    ———–brief explanation——
    A QR Code (it stands for “Quick Response”) is a mobile phone readable barcode that’s been big in Japan forever, broke into Eurpoe a while back, and is now getting traction in USA.

    In it’s simplest sense think “print based hypertext link” – simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone (or other camera-enabled mobile) at it. If the device has had QR Code decoding software installed on it, it will fire up its browser and go straight to that URL.
    —————-end explanation———-
    Rather than buying a new book printed with the QR codes, my thought was that one could print up a sheet of QR codes (maybe sticky note backed) that link to the instructors primary sources to enlarge the textbook discussion. These could then be inserted by the students in in the text on the appropriate pages. The immediacy of reading and linking might make exploration of this process worth the effort.
    Do your students have photo equipped cell phones? – just kiddin’



  4. Bob, this is a fascinating idea! I am a bit familiar with the technology, but given how expensive the textbooks are, I can’t even get them to write in them, much less add a sticker that would lower (!) its price for resale.

    I’m really glad you mentioned this. It sets my brain whirling with ideas of other ways I could use it… πŸ™‚


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