There are some excellent blogs out there with a wealth of information for teachers. The biggest problem is keeping track of them. It can be very time consuming to go from blog to blog to see if there’s any new content. A much better way is to get the blogs to come to you. And you can do that very easily using a Blog reader and RSS.

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. Many people describe it as a ‘news feed’ that you subscribe to. Using RSS readers you can monitor lots of blogs from one place and be informed when they have new content. For more about RSS, here’s a guide to RSS in plain english

One of the simplest ways to do this is to use Google Reader, which comes free as part of a Google account. If you have Google Mail or Google Docs, you already have access to Google Reader. If you don’t already have an account, sign up for one. It’s totally free.

Add blogs to your reader

First, visit a blog that you’d like to follow. Then all you need to do is click and copy its web address / URL. Switch to Google Reader and click the “Add a subscription” button. Then paste the URL in the box. Google Reader should automatically find the RSS feed of the blog and add it to your list of blogs.

If not- take a look on the blog for an RSS icon – usually it will link to the address of the feed for that blog. It should look something like this:

For this blog – its towards the top right of the page (it’s grey not orange). Click it to see my feed page. Then copy and paste the URL address for the feed into Google Reader as before.

List blogs

Whenever you visit your Google Reader page, it will list all the blogs that you have subscribed t0 that have unread posts. As you click on them you’ll see the latest updates and can read it right there in the feed reader. Typically it will show the titles of the blog posts. Simply click on a title to open up the post.

You are given the option to click through to the actual site or move onto the next unread item – marking the last one as ‘read’.

If you want to visit the actual blog site – to add a comment or to pass on the URL, then click on the title of the blog post and a new window should open up. Some blogs are set up so you only get a small part of the post, to read the whole thing you would then need to click on the title and go to the original site.

For more help, here’s a short guide on getting started from the Google Reader blog:

and here’s the official help page.

By using Google Reader I can follow lots of blogs, and read them all by going to just one website. It does make following blogs a lot easier.If you use an iPad you can also access Google Reader via the browser, or via many different RSS apps that will connect to your Google Reader account and display your blogs in a handy format. I use an app called Reeder which makes the blog reading experience so much nicer.

If you’ve never tried Google Reader do check it out: