Teaching & Learning in a networked world: Tools and Techniques

image by Stephan Ridgway

A workshop for new 2006 Learnscope teams presented by Stephan Ridgway @ the NSW Learnscope induction day.

TAFENSW Sydney Institute, Ultimo, Room DG-45, on 5 May 2006, 1:45 – 4:00pm


This advanced stream workshop will cover a range of ways to extend your utilisation of web2.0 tools and technologies to increase your capacity to share & collaborate within teaching and learning networks.

By the end of the session learners will have extended their skills to encompass:

  • Extending RSS beyond subscription to collaboration
  • Tagging as means to share and collaborate within learning networks
  • Podcasting, vblogging, feedburner & Oedo

A skills audit was conducted using surveymonkey prior to the workshop to more effectively tailor the workshop content to the specific needs of the attendees.

You can see the results here

You can hear the audio recording of the workshop on the Talking VTE podcast

From subscription to collaboration: Extending RSS

external image 62142614_5bb5726f91_m.jpg

image by Dion Hinchcliffe

For many of us, our first step into the world of networked learning is subscribing to an rss feed, probably using a web based aggregator like bloglines. RSS is the connecting fabric of web2.0 services, providing the conduit for information flows between distributed networks. Content syndication or the re-use of information from others on the network, often characterised as mashups, is what sets web2.0 services apart from the preceding phase of the web, comprising static pages linked by url’s.

“The new era is also creating a realm of endless mix and match: Anyone with a browser can access vast stores of information, mash it up, and serve it in new ways, to a few people or a few hundred million.” – Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland, The Next Net: 25 startups that are reinventing the web, (2006)

Network learning is all about the connected information flows between decentralised nodes, characterised by a willingness to share, mix and feed.

RSS is intrinsically collaborative as it allows information to be endlessly re purposed anywhere on the network. As educators within learning networks we need to learn how to utilise the power of rss to connect and collaborate with our learners. Let’s have a look as a few ways we can utilise rss to enhance the information flows between networked learners.


Blogs are one of the most commonly utilised tools for educators to communicate with their learners. In many ways web2.0 emerged out of the blogging phenomenon and the so called “blogosphere” is testament to the power of blogs as a social networking tool.

The most common way to syndicate content in blogs is to modify the publishing template so the feeds are displayed in the columns along the side. Most of the social software services offer a way to achieve this and there are numerous services which exclusively cater to taking a feed address and outputting code to directly paste into a blog template. Some of the apps whose feeds are commonly seen on blogs are blog rolls from bloglines, RSS headlines, lists of tagged urls from del.icio.us, Flickr badges, Frappr Maps, calendars etc. the list is endless. If you are blogging as part of a networked learning community this is a great way to forge connections between learners.

Case Study

Stephanie is a part time teacher in TAFE, she accesses the internet from home and a number of computers across campus while at work. As part of their learning program she has encouraged her learners to blog, use del.icio.us to tag resources and tag pictures on flickr. She has subscribed to each students blog and their group del.icio.us tags using bloglines but she would also like to foster group energy by displaying these rss feeds on each members blogs. Lets see how this could be achieved with the following activity.

Activity 1 – Mashup feed on blog

  1. Navigate to del.icio.us and find a tag of interest and note down rss feed address
  2. Find a blog of interest and note down the rss feed address
  3. Navigate to flickr and find a tag of interest and note down the feed address
  4. Log into FeedDigest and enter the del.icio.us feed – this will include an account creation process if you do not have an account
  5. Click on “Add more feeds to or edit this digest »” and add the feed address from a blog
  6. Click on "Click here to add a feed to this digest" and add the feed address from flickr
  7. Scroll down to the “Digest Layout / Template” section & select the "basic template"
  8. Click the “Save Digest” and return to the control panel
  9. Under your digest listing, click “get code”
  10. In the Javascript section range and copy the code to the clipboard
  11. Open your blog template and paste the code @ an appropriate place
  12. View your blog
  13. This mashup has its own feed which can also be viewed in an aggregator, return to FeedDigest and subscribe to the feed in Bloglines

Another option for Stephanie would be to use a service like superglue which gathers the content from the members feeds and publishes them in one convenient place with an attractive template.

Another option for Stephanie and her learner would be for them to use a startup pages service like Protopage or Netvibes

Examples of blogs using rss feed mashups

Stuff: ED - Jo Kay's blog from the Teaching and Learning Resource Unit @ TAFENSW - Illawarra Institute.

Stuff: ED superglue site

Weblogg-ed - Will Richardson's blog which uses a rss feed based calendar

Teach and Learn Online - Leigh Blackall's blog which displays feeds from various sources including Frappr, RSS calendar, flickr etc.

Alex Hayes - Bloglines, Flickr, Frappr mashup.

RSS Resources

Selected Links

FeedDigest - Display items from rss feeds on your blog, site etc., Mix multiple feeds into a single feed and much more.

Feedblender - takes a number of rss feeds and combines them into a single feed

TagCloud - Takes standard rss feeds and searchs for keywords from which it creates a tagcloud you can place on your blog, site etc.

RSS: What it is, Where to get it, How to make it, How to use it - A good site for resources on all things rss

50 RSS Ideas for Educators - A very comprehensive overview of rss for educators

The latest 10 resources tagged in Del.icio.us with "rss"

    Tagging – collaborative folksonomy

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    image by kosmar

    Initially we all begin tagging to have access to our resources online across computer profiles. This is very useful for teachers who use many computers in an institution. For example, personally, it took a while for me to be convinced of the value of storing my bookmarks online, what if the web is down or slow, why spend all this time thinking about tagging my sites I just want to store it for later, what if the site closes & I loose all my bookmarks ... Well I have been actively tagging my sites in del.icio.us for over 8 months or so now and have over 1000 links stored and I would never go back to local bookmarks. Why, because of the social dimension, being able to tag a link and see how many others have done the same, to be able to collaboratively build a repository of resources with my immediate trusted network and beyond that with the community of users and to be able to use this information in a variety of ways in diverse contexts using rss.

    “Why do people tag? For many, tagging is for sharing their own information and watching others. Even if you tag mostly to remember your own stuff, it is difficult to remain untouched by the presence of others.” - Rashmi Sinha , A social analysis of tagging (or how tagging transforms the solitary browsing experience into a social one), (2006)

    Case Study

    Stephanie is a student at TAFE. She has been asked by her facilitator tag resources as part of group participation for the course she is studying. Web sites are tagged in del.icio.us, images in Flickr and blogposts with technorati

    Lets see how this could be achieved with the following activity.

    Activity 2 – tagging: From solitary to social

    Navigate to one of your colleagues del.icio.us bookmarks eg. http://del.icio.us/sridgway
    Find a rss feed for one of their tags and subscribe to it in bloglines
    Navigate to the “your network” section of del.icio.us
    Add their username to your network
    Click on their name to view their bookmarks
    Find a website and tag it for:username
    Have a look in your inbox to see what has been tagged for you
    Goto the technorati and search for blogposts using tags

    Tagging Resources

    Selected Links

    Tags entry on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - The Wikipedia entry for educators seeking the basics and a begining on understanding tags and tagging

    Folksonomies - Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata - An in depth view of tagging and the role of shared bookmarking

    Foxylicious - Firefox and del.icio.us bookmark integration

    extisp.icio.us - cool tool based upon the API's of del.ico.us and yahoo images

    The latest 10 resources tagged in flickr with "nswlearnscope06"
    • Eora LearnScope team Dec 14, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • Eora LearnScope team Dec 14, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • Eora LearnScope team Dec 14, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • secondlife Dec 14, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • 13122006_outback_echallenge Dec 12, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo: The Outbcak EChallenge Group
    • Image008.jpg Dec 11, 2006
      robynejay posted a photo: Telstra MMS to Email This MMS to email message was powered by Telstra. Sharing picture and video messages is easy with Telstra’s Picture and Video Messaging (MMS) service. To find out more, visit www.telstra.com...
    • Learnscope in studio Dec 10, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • Group Shot 1 Dec 10, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • Learnscope Gp2 Dec 10, 2006
      nswlearnscope posted a photo:
    • Workbased learning Dec 7, 2006
      robynejay posted a photo: Telstra MMS to Email This MMS to email message was powered by Telstra. Sharing picture and video messages is easy with Telstra’s Picture and Video Messaging (MMS) service. To find out more, visit www.telstra.com...

    Podcasting & Vblogging

    Podcasting & Vblogging Resources

    Examples of podcasts and Vblogs

    Casting the Net Podcast - Seans Stephan,s podcast Exploring the tools, concepts and issues involved in teaching and learning in a networked world.

    Talking VTE Podcast - A podcast blog filled with interviews and recordings made at conferences, seminars and workshops throughout the Australian Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) sector.
    EdTechTalk - Podcast on Educational Technology

    Rocketboom - vblog by Amanada Congdon.

    WATCHME@XOLO.TV - vblog.

    CommandN - Tech vblog

    Selected Links

    Podcasting on Education - Wiki resource to support conference presentation by Sean FitzGearld

    FeedBurner - Takes standard rss and atom feeds and customises them to create another feed suitable for podcasting and vblogging

    Oedeo - Online podcasting service.

    Juice - podcast aggregator.

    FireAnt - vblog aggregator.

    Podcast Alley - Podcast directory

    The latest 10 resources tagged in del.icio.us with "podcasting"

      Workshop Evaluation

      At the end of the workshop please complete the online evaluation