I’ve personally been using an RSS Reader named Leaf for some time simply so I can stay up to date on my most frequently read blogs or sites without having to actually go check (e.g. Omni Group, Ulysses). In a professional capacity, I used to use the RSS function in Edmodo to subscribe my classes to certain resources, particularly when I taught a class on Digital Literacy to high school students about 4 years ago. I found this to be a nice way to provide them with resources that were not only appropriate but timely, and without having to search themselves. That being said, some subscriptions were updated so frequently that our class wall was inundated with new posts that I ultimately had to remove them and manually post articles when needed. In the graduate courses I teach at the university, I also require students to maintain a blog for weekly reflections on the modules, and RSS is one of my solutions to being updated on their eventual posts that contain their instructional designs, learning objects, and reflections. While they also turn work in through our Learning Management System (mainly the link to their blog), I wanted them to have not only a record of their work but a way to share it with the larger community of language educators. The one problem I ran into with this was their use of Korea-centric blogs through Naver and Daum that are not international friendly. I intended for other educators around the world to be able to comment and connect with them, but, if it isn’t as easy as “reply with Google ID” or some other more common credential service used outside of Korea, people simply didn’t make the effort. This is definitely a change I would make for the next course implementation using Blogger or WordPress so that the world outside of Korea can easily connect. This assignment was not difficult per se although I am not currently teaching as it is summer break, and I recently left my former job as an ICT Director at a small international school and am more or less unemployed. RSS is not a new or fancy technology by any means, but the challenge is to use it to effectively facilitate an educational goal. Setting up an individual RSS feed or account is rather simple as this can be done in Safari itself (I’m a shameless Mac advocate) or through any program like Leaf, or Feedly which I was introduced to through this assignment. Often one of the challenges my graduate students face is the complexity of having a unique account for every student and often one of the methods we employ to make it simple for use in the Korean classroom is by using one account shared by all students. I took this approach in the assignment as I have also done this in the past with a single Google Account for students to experiment with to make forms, collaboratively create documents, etc. This practice may not fair so well in the west but in Korea this works remarkably well. My idea was to simply take an RSS Reader and have it used by all students to simultaneously create a learning database for language resources that are organised by common language skill sets or focuses, and also by a language education framework’s performance objectives (my background in instructional design makes it hard for me to avoid performance objectives!). The end result, in theory, is a PLC that is constantly being updated by students through the life the course, but also updating them on added/updated content and resources that is already organised in ways they need. For the coming 7th TESOL Cycle at the beginning of the Fall semester in August I am not sure whether I will be needed to teach any C.A.L.L. sections due to projected lower enrolment (I’m an adjunct after all), but this has the potential to be a great resource and learning experience, and it will definitely be added to my overall course curriculum for consideration in the future. I followed a generic instructional design process (i.e. ADDIE) for this lesson plan, or as Gagné more eloquently calls them, micro-designs.
Google Docs Lesson Plan Link
Leaf & Feedly Video Overview