In his TED talk, Tom Uglow says “we’re not addicted to devices, we’re addicted to the information that flows through them.” If this is true then RSS readers might be the biggest enablers on the internet. Our task for this week in ECMP 355 was to shop around for an RSS reader, a nifty little platform that aggregates all of your blog and news subscriptions into one place. I ask how I didn’t know about these before in the title because, being someone who does a lot of reading on the internet from a score of sources on a variety of topics, this is something I’ve been looking for that I didn’t know I was looking for.
After consulting some “Top 10 RSS Readers” articles courtesy of google search, I settled on Feedly, simply because they were at the top of almost every list. After plugging in all my usual publications I began to shop for new, education related blogs to follow. Ultimately I populated most of my feed with blogs recommended by Feedly it’s self. It has a really nice layout where it tells you how many subscribers the publication has along with how often they post an article. I also used with the two lists we were give in class which are The 50 Best Blogs for Future Teachers and Teach 100 – Top Educational blogs. These lists were decent starting points, but with so much to choose from that I quickly discovered I needed to come up with a criteria to prevent me from hitting the subscribe button on every blog.
1. Blog must have at least one post from the current school year.
A lot of the blogs on the two lists had domains that hadn’t published anything new since 2012. Some just fizzled out while others had official final posts stating that the weren’t going to post anymore. Some of the guidelines and recommendations I came across by other blog consumers stated that they don’t follow a blog if a post hasn’t been made within the last 30 days. So I figured my own standard here was pretty lenient.
I’m sure the content on these expired blogs is good, but I think it’s important that if I try to engage the author in a discussion in the comment section, that they’re going to respond, and that it will be a recent enough post that it will be something that they are still thinking about.
2. EVERY blog post must be about becoming a better teacher.
This was another step to try and eliminate unfocused content from filling up my feed. For example, one of the principal’s blogs on the top 50 list had a lot of posts that didn’t seem in-line with the purpose of the blog. There were solid posts too, but I only want blogs that have %100 solid posts. Otherwise I’m not going to like going on Feedly. There were posts congratulating his school’s girls volleyball team for defeating some other school’s girls volleyball team. A lot of “morning announcement” type of material. How is knowing your school’s team beat the other team going to help me become a more culturally responsive, self-aware, thoroughly equipped teacher? Maybe if the post was about the progressive coaching, or the strategies used to build a strong team culture that helped secure their victory, the post would have been more worth a read. But it wasn’t. So….NEXT.
3. Posts should be concerned with either Canadian education or not specific to a nation at all.
Another thing I steered clear from were blogs that spent a lot of posts contemplating the American education system (there was a lot of these on the lists). Sure, our Canadian education system might suffer from some of the same ailments as America’s, but at the end of the day we’re still a pretty distinct culture from them. Each country may require different solutions to similar problems. We’re also seven spots ahead of the US in the global rankings on education systems, so if I’m wanting to learn more about a specific nation’s discourse on education, I would probably be looking to Finland or the UK.
Two standout sources: Medium & Mindshift
I briefly talked about Medium in my last blog post, but this was one source that I couldn’t wait to plug into Feedly. Medium has basically single handedly raised the quality of the content I read. I spend way less time scrolling through the short anecdotes on my Facebook feed now, and am spending a lot more time engage in really interesting, challenging, and thought provoking writing pieces. I like Medium because it’s not just one author but thousands, each one writing about whatever they feel like. Quality articles are voted to your feed based on the amount of recommends it gets. These articles also give the reader the ability to highlight within the article and shows the highlights of other readers as well. You get the content you want by subscribing to tags, to which I follow Education Reform, Edtech, Teaching, Social Justice, Self Improvement, along with about a dozen others. This source has also been excellent for building my PLN because all of these authors are also on twitter posting great stuff. Some of the articles that I have found helpful in developing my discourse on education are:
MindShift is new to me. Like Medium it features a variety of authors, but unlike medium it’s less of an aggregated blog site and more of an article publication, which focus solely on the discourse of education. The content of these articles is based less on anecdotal musings of teachings and more on authentic research. I chose to highlight this publication because pretty much every article caught my attention as being relevant to my own experiences. Here are some examples of those.