RSS as glue

I’m in a workshop right now at ALT-C run by Guy Saward from Hertfordshire, who is bravely doing a live demo and editing some material on his university’s long-establihsed Studynet system (their own learning enviroment built on top of Lotus notes) in front of an audience.  He’s looking at the connection between universities’ own systems, such as the one he’s using, and the social networks, notably Facebook, that students use, and raising the question of how they can be linked and indeed in which type of place academics should be most active.

He’s using RSS feeds – a technology that many of our students have heard of but fewer know how to use – to build links between the different sorts of system.  RSS isn’t a new technology but in the educational setting it’s one that may be set to become more familiar than it has been so far.

Slightly unexpectedly, at the table where I was sitting, we got into a fairly involved conversation about how RSS feeds and Facebook content works.  It turns out that material delivered to Facebook through an automated feed doesn’t necessarily get posted in the way that automated material does.  Arguably this challenges the tacit assumption that different online tools can be linked together and content from one tool can be embedded in another at will.  But it’s also a nice illustration of a case where understanding the technical policies used by an organisation can affect educational approaches.

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