Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Informational: Nonprofit Good Practice Guide

The website is a one-stop shop for widely-accepted, innovative nonprofit practices offering Preferred Practices and Pitfalls, Glossaries, Resources, Trends and Web site Profiles within ten
topic areas. The Guide can be used as a reference for quick answers, in preparation for staff or board meetings, as a training tool, and in reference for classroom studies. It's an interesting resource.

Blogs: Chronicle of Higher Education

http://wiredcampus.chronicle.com/ The Chronicle of Higher Education Blog. Here's another blog to explore.

Commentary: Sotir: The End of the Information Age

I get inspiration from a variety of sources. Actually, the number of sources that are available for that inspiration happens to be the problem. Take for example, this blog site. I can spend every hour of every day researching Web sites and still only skim the surface. And like the universe itself, it seems to have no end.
This morning an article from Pip Coburn of UBS on the Always On Network entitled "The Information Age is Over."(http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=10503_0_11_0_C) popped up on one of my RSS feeds. Read a few articles down if you don't yet know what an RSS feed is. I made a quick click to the site. I like Coburn's ideas, and he does seem to have a firm grasp of the way that technology goes. And apparently, yet another Age is gone...and I almost missed its demise. To be sure, technology is still there, but we seem to have left the Information Age, and apparently catapulted headlong into the Integration Age. I wonder if the prehistoric humans were as confused by the various ages as we are. Hopefully, they were ignorant of the changes around them. It's easier that way.
But not so for us. As Coburn says, "It ain't the Information Age any more. Sorry, but it ain't. The Information Age meant aiming to get the information, but we can now all get tons and tons and tons of it anytime..." How true is that? How overwhelmed are we not only by all the information available, but of all the methods to access that information. Even the now ubiquitous cell phone is being primed to not only give us Internet access (that is sooooooo 2002), but also access to our TV news. Need the news NOW? Check out your phone. Is a Dick Tracy wrist phone so out there? Click on: http://www.watchreport.com/2004/11/the_current_sta.html , which bills itself as the site with the current state of wrist phones. Yes, complete with photos, thank you very much. Information is there, around us, 24/7, and requires little effort to retrieve. Except knowing HOW to retrieve it, of course. It's always something, isn't it? Coburn writes "Complexity can become simple...But if there isn't a commitment to make it simple, it won't get simple. The commitment is key. The commitment to make a change. "
So how does that filter down to education, and especially to Adult Education? Instructors have been committed to creating lesson plans that make complex ideas simple enough to understand. And as those who support the instructors, we must be ever watchful of the new methods for making that work. In my office is a print that says 'Change, of any sort, requires courage'. Education on the other hand, lives by the theory that 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. Of course we clean up the grammar, but education will never be the hotbed of change. We like to think we are, but in practice, we really aren't.
As a School Board member in the 90's, for example, I argued against the idea of buying typewriters to teach computer keyboarding. Typewriters were cheaper, they argued back, and the keyboard is the same. It's the process that's different, I argued on. You cannot cut and paste on a typewriter. You cannot copy text on a typewriter. But typewriters were in the comfort zone, and computers were not. Staff recognized the need for keyboarding classes, but were not yet willing to make the change to computers. For the record, that was the year the district purchased the first computers for keyboarding classes. Change CAN happen, with persistance.
The same holds true in the AELC. Fortunately AELC instructors are more willing than most to try out new ideas, as that is the core principle of our program. So I use a blog to communicate with the instructors. (http://aelc.blogspot.com) . Some have taken to it more than others, and some have even embraced the changes made from paper memos to emails to blogs. Others... well, they are still looking for that comfort zone.
Right now we are in the process of changing the way our lab accesses the educational materials we offer students. Currently we have cross-correlated our classroom curricula and educational software so that students have immediate access to the information they need (our Individual Educational Plans, or IEP's). Students from any level can come into the Center and instructors only need their class number to put them on the correct software to enhance what they are learning. It works well and allows us to assist over 1000 students a year from 7 or 8 different programs, and about 45 different levels, using 40 -50 software programs.
This fall we will unveil a new IEP, called an OIEP for Online Individual Educational Plan. That plan will also be cross-correlated with the classroom curricula, as well as the software IEP. The difference will be that it will be available, not on paper, but on the computer desktop. If the software we have is inadequate to meet student needs, we will have access to additional educational Websites, conveniently correlated to the classroom curricula. Since the OIEP is housed on the computer desktop, Websites such as those found on this blog will be accessible to our students and instructors with a simple click on the appropriate link. This will give us additional learning tools for our students, but will require a change in how instructors process the information available for students. And change is always difficult.
The key, of course, as Coburn said, is integration. It isn't enough to know the Websites are out there, but we need to integrate those Sites into the educational fabric of the Center. Change will not be easy, but if it offers our students better tools for success, it is essential.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

ESL: Predicates, Objects and Complements

http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/objects.htm Created by the Capital Community College Foundation, CCC Foundation, 950 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103. Phone (860) 906-5102 or email: jmcnamara@ccc.commnet.edu.

A good explanation of these grammar terms, with links for additional information. This is not an interactive site, but offers good explanations and examples to help students with the concepts.

ESL: Adverb Clauses - Conditional Meanings

http://a4esl.org/q/h/mb/adv_conditional.html This is another site I've recommended before, and is specifically created for ESL students. This link takes you to an online quiz where you can click on the box to get the correct answers. This would be a good review for instructors to check student's understanding of the concept.

ESL: Subjunctive in Adverbial Clauses: Spanish and English

http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/SUBJADV.HTM The subjunctive in adverbial clauses

A great site for bilingual Spanish students who are trying to understand English grammar. This site is basically in English but explains the English within a Spanish context. For example:

" If no change of subject is involved and a preposition exists which corresponds to the conjunction, that preposition plus an infinitive is normally used, e.g.: He's saving his money so he can buy a car, Ahorra su dinero para poder comprar un coche. "

ESL: Adverbial Clauses of Time

http://www.smccd.net/accounts/sevas/esl/gramcheck/8-5.html This is from AZAR, which is a favorite software program in the AELC. It includes a one page quiz on adverbial clauses of time.

ESL: Verbals: Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/print/grammar/g_verbals.html Brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/index.htm.

I've recommended the OWL site before, which are particularly well done web sites on grammar and writing skills. This site has good explanations, points to remember and exercises, with answer keys.

ESL: Gerunds and Gerund Phrases

Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics: Language Skills Practice. 71. Copyright © by Holt, Rinehart and W inston. A worksheet with answer key. Requires Adobe Acrobat.

ESL: Identification of Verbals and Phrases

http://www.ecsu.edu/ECSU/AcadDept/llc/WritingLab/phrases.html This is a good informational site with 2 short quizzes at the end. Great examples are included.

ESL: Gerund Phrases

http://grammar.uoregon.edu/phrases/gerundP.html The Tongue Untied

The gerund phrase includes the gerund and the object of the gerund or any modifiers related to the gerund. This is an informational site, not an interactive site, but does explain gerund phrases well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Blogs: Creating your Own


Tech Soup has great articles, and this one on creating your own blog is no exception. Use it to get a feel for all that blogging has to offer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Wiki: Definition

For all of you who are now comfortable with blogs, let me introduce you to wikis...not in my words, but in someone who says it better than I can:
What Is Wiki
Wiki is in Ward's original description:
The simplest online database that could possibly work.
Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.
Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.

Some wikis to explore:
www.wikipedia.org : the original online Wikipedia
http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/Main_Page : Adult Literacy Education (ALE) Wiki

Blog Tools: Blogger.com

Blogger.com: Google now owns Blogger. "How does Blogger work? Magic! Actually, you provide Blogger a template of your page (or use one of several pred-designed ones) that indicates where you want your posts to appear. When you want to publish something, you simply enter it in a form. When you're ready, you hit a "Publish" button that will automatically send your new page to your web server. No muss. No fuss. Total control."
This is the tool I used to create this blog. Total time to create this masterpiece: less than 10 minutes. Blogs are what they are, but creating the template is as easy as 1, 2, 3...

Blogs: Edublogs

http://www.ibritt.com/resources/wp_blogs.htm#blogs Blogs and Wikis to Explore (blogs in education)
Yet another new term: "edublogs". This is a nice compendium of articles, blogs and wikis that are related to education. Since the Web is notorious for giving sites and then taking them away, some of the links aren't active, but if you are interested in researching blogs, this is a great place to start.

Try these out too:
http://www.flickr.com/groups_topics.gne?id=35034348234@N01 Educational Bloggers Discussion
http://mywebspace.quinnipiac.edu/PHastings/bac.html# Blogging Across the Curriculum

And while you are exploring, how about 'vlogs' or videoblogs....check out the tutorial at http://www.freevlog.org/

Having fun yet?

Blogs: Educational Blogs

http://weblogs.about.com/od/educationblogs/ Education Blogs: Weblogs for and by teachers, educators, and learners. They contain ideas, resources, and tips that may be used in schools, universities, colleges, workshops and the rest of the academic world. Sometimes you just can't help feeling voyeuristic when you read these...

Blog: Educational Search Engine

http://www.blogsearchengine.com/education_blogs.html Blog Search Engine, for educators. Interesting to see how the blog can be used academically.

Blogs: Educational Blog Uses

http://awd.cl.uh.edu/blog/ An excellent site describing blogs and how they can be used in educational settings. Great links to other blogs and blog writing tools. This page is designed to provide you some resources if you want to get started using blogs for yourself or with your students. The use of blogs in instructional settings is limited only by your imagination.

GED: Science

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0809222302/student_view0/ McGraw Hill/Contemporary has excellent online assistance that ties into their print text.
They cover most of the areas for GED 2002. This link is for the Science portion, and each chapter includes:

Chapter Overview
Chapter Outline
Chapter Review Quiz
GED Practice Quiz
Web Links

GED:Radio Dramas

http://www.sabes.org/resources/brightideas/b2coleman.htm Sorry, Wrong Number: Using Radio Dramas in the GED Class
by Cathy Coleman

This is an article for instructors on using alternate skills for teaching reading. It's short but has good ideas.

GED: Test Prep

http://www.testprepreview.com/ged_practice.htm Online practice tests -- and answers intended for the do-it-tyourself GED prep student. Students choose a topic, take the test and receive an evaluation when they finish, including explanations of why the answers are incorrect and a score. This would be good for students who are ready to take the test, but need a little more encouragement or review.

GED: GED Prep Lessons

http://free-ed.net/free-ed/GED/, on-line real-time (or asynchronous) GED Prep lessons. A complete 74-unit GED Prep curriculum. This is designed for students, not teachers, but may be of interest to teachers as well. There is no fee for any part of this program.

GED: GED 2002

http://www.ciesc.org/courses/ged/session2/default.htm Three thirty-minute streaming videos, each focusing on a different aspect of the GED Test. Students in Indiana's adult education programs are featured. Applicable print materials can be downloaded. Requires Windows Media Player, a free download.

This is a well done site and would be helpful for instructors new to the GED 2002 test as well as students. The video is excellent, and there are some helpful tools as well, such as an explanation of the calculator keys. Worth a peek.

Commentary: Sotir: Blogosphere

I don't know if you realize, but by accessing this blog, you are on the cutting edge of technological science. All right, perhaps that is a bit too flowery, but the truth is, bloggers are really getting into mainstream society. The 2004 election is a good example of how blog influence in a few (since 1998) short years. Conservatives, Liberals and the declared Neutrals drove the red/blue states, dissected the politics and helped define the media presence of TV, radio and print journalism. It is, by far, one of the fastest growing trends on the Web.

What makes them work? The immediacy of response and the ability to create a dated, archived resource have made them a cultural firestorm. Before blogs came into being, the Internet hosted Usenets, email lists and bulletin boards. All of these tools created a community of people who had things to say and share. Blogs just make it easier.

Our vocabulary has expanded as well. Consider 'troll': a person who disrupts a blog discussion by posting messages to create hostility (very common on political blogs). Or 'blogstorm': a large amount of activity, information and opinion that erupts quickly. The totality of blogs is often called the 'blogsphere'. One of my favorite terms is for those who use blogs to create an online diary. Since the diaries are accessible by almost anyone, they call themselves 'escribitionists'. Legal type blogs are called 'blawgs'. A 'moblog' is a blog featuring posts sent mainly via mobile phones, using SMS or MMs messages, and often include photos, which also makes them 'photoblogs'. If nothing else, it is fun to see the almost daily expansion to our vocabulary.

The term 'weblog' (from which the shorter 'blog' comes from) was coined in December 1997 by Jorn Barger. (This could be a Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit question in a few years.) September 11, 2001 caused a flurry of blogs to appear, as people tried to make sense of the madness. The war in Iraq was the first 'blogwar'. Other media 'embedded' reporters to give an immediate feed to the war and events. But despite giving a first hand view of the war, it couldn't give what many people wanted...a place to give their opinions as quickly as they spewed from their heads. Blogs can do that.

The immediacy of blogs is a particular value. If you read an editorial in the newspaper that you disagree with, you could write a snail mail (letter) or email, but the satisfaction of seeing your words in print is held off until the next printing. Blogs are immediate satisfaction. Type it, hit 'publish', and the entire blogosphere knows where you stand. Blogs exist on almost any topic. There are as many unique types of blogs as there are people who read them. There are blog search engines and blog directories ( try Globe of Blogs: www.globeofblogs.com or or Blo.gs www.blo.gs ).

Actually, one of the real advantages of blogs is the linking capability. If you want to reference something in your post, you simply link the address. Readers can click on the link to get the information. 'Pings' (tools to notify the original poster when someone else writes an entry concerning their original post) are also useful. The Blogarithm tool ( www.blogarithm.com) at the bottom of this page is an example of a 'ping'. Go ahead, add a comment to this post. I'll know that you did immediately after you hit 'publish'.

So how can we use blogs in education? Instructors can set up a blog for students to practice writing. Collaborative discussions work well with blogs. Information for a class (assignments, Web links etc.) can easily be given in a blog, with the advantage of it being in a Website, accessible from any computer with a browser. Blogs can be updated from anywhere, and added to at any time. They are archived and searchable. What ideas do you have?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

GED/Pre-GED: Lesson Plans

http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/adulted/lessons.html Thirteen/WNET New York, PBS's flagship station, developed Thirteen Ed Online. This free service features everything from standards-based lesson plans and classroom activities to a multimedia primer, online mentors, and reviews of curriculum-based Web sites.

An excellent resource for instructors. These plans include links to other activities, handouts, lessons etc. For example, the plan entitled 'Analyze This' (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/adulted/lessons/lesson41.html) includes this overview: One of the most important critical thinking skills people have is the ability to analyze a variety of images and symbols that appear alongside everyday words and text. By everyday words and text, we mean text found in newspaper columns, business reports, bank statements, and utility bills. These examples often use graphic images like charts, graphs, tables, and pictures to supplement the text to help the reader's understanding of it. This lesson engages learners in the analysis of various types of graphs common in daily life. It can be used as a stand-alone lesson, substitute lesson plan or self-directed study in preparation for the GED. There are great links to lessons in preparing graphs and charts, and a lot of useful information on how instructors can use the lesson.

ABE/ESL: Learning Differences


One of the more common issues with adult education students is that many of them have special learning needs that are difficult for instructors to assess. These 'fast facts' are for instructors who want easy to use methodologies for working with these students. I liked the section 'Simple Things You Can Do to Help Students with Learning Differences'. Good information.

Learn strategies for working with adult students who have learning differences with these quick, plain-English fact sheets. Fast Facts are short, concise information pages on a variety of topics related to learning differences. The Fast Facts pages are being developed in the belief that practitioners often have little time to read lengthy articles and are looking for sources of information that are readable and to the point. In the future, additional pages and links will be added to help interested ABLE practitioners get the information they want, quickly and easily.

Learning Differences Fast Facts were developed by Richard C. Gacka, Ed.D.

GED: GED 2002 Lesson Plans

http://www.floridatechnet.org/GED/LessonPlans/Lessons.htm Developed in cooperation with Florida Altantic University, GED 2002 Teachers' Lesson Bank

This site has an amazing amount of lesson plans for all disciplines, including:
Language Arts, Writing Social Studies Science Language Arts, Reading Mathematics Interdisciplinary Pre-GED Lesson Plans
I really liked the Pre-GED plans ( http://www.floridatechnet.org/lessons.asp ) since that is an area often not addressed in online websites for GED. The lessons relate to Contemporary and Steck-Vaughn texts, by page number. To view the lesson plans for Pre GED topics, simply click on each of the checklists. Once you are at the checklist, click on each of the competencies to open and view the lesson plans and their accompanying handouts.

GED: Lesson Plans

http://www.able.state.pa.us/able/cwp/view.asp?a=13&Q=71697 GED Lesson Plans

Produced by the ABLE project in PA, these lesson plans are well done and cover a variety of GED topics. All lessons follow a similar format. Each indicates which content areas are covered as well as the skill level to be developed. The lesson plans also provide objectives, required materials, an outline and script for the lesson plus possible extension or follow-up activities.

ESL: Grammar: Self Study Quizzes

http://a4esl.org/q/h/grammar.htmlSelf Study Quizzes

A good site for students studying grammar, and covers Grammar, Places , Vocabulary , Idioms, Homonyms and Scrambled Words. Broken down into easy, medium and difficult skills. These are meant to be taken online, and students get immediate feedback. A great place to send students who ask for things they can do at home.

ESL/GED: Writing

http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~leslieob/pizzaz.html : People Interested in Zippy and ZAny Zcribbling

Although set up for beginner through advanced ESL students, many of these ideas can also be used for ABE/GED students as well. I liked the writing activities in the section called 'Writing Roulette'. There are also some lesson plans, which all instructors love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

General Information: The Internet as a Tool for Teaching EFL

http://www.freepint.com/issues/270400.htm#feature : Article: The Internet as a tool for teaching English as a Foreign Language, By Rachel Arenstein

This is an interesting article for understanding how one uses the Internet to teach EFL. While specifically addressing 10 -12 year olds, it has relative information for all ages. It might inspire you to write your own uses for the Internet in YOUR classrooms.

Sotir Commentary:

Weblogs have been around since 1998, although they were not necessarily named as such at the time. Sometime around 1999 Peter Merholz announced that they were to be pronounced 'wee-blog' but of course that was shortened to 'blog' and you were no longer a weblog editor, you were a 'blogger'. Sites started springing up with blog templates, such as Pitas and Blogger, and were originally link-driven sites with commentary, personal thoughts and even essays and photos. They were also originally written in HTML code by people who already knew how to create a website.

Even though the current crop of blogs has maintained the same format, they are much easier to create, thanks to templates and programs that add the necessary HTML for you. (see www.blogger.com or http://www.squarespace.com/ for the tools and templates you need to create your own blog or Website). It is a revolution, and one that you can join with relative ease. Blog commentaries are to be taken with a grain of salt, as are most Web-based sites. You define your belief parameters, and are your own judge and jury as to the value of the content and authors. It is a brave new world, with instantaneous, unfiltered information delivered on demand.

I'm a relative newcomer, since I just started blogging about 3 years ago, but often feel more like a pioneer. Just as it is difficult to imagine the World Wide Web has been used by the general public for less than 15 years, blog formats are becoming just as ubiquitous in our current age to express beliefs and share information. Blogs are everywhere, as are bloggers. They were even christened a legitimate form of journalism by both the Democrats and Republicans at their last national conventions, and continue to explode daily, if not hourly.

As instructors, we are obliged to address the new forms of communication and to explore how they change the psyche of our students. Just as previous generations explored the impacts of radio, television, computers, the Internet and the World Wide Web, we should explore how the newest communication tools can be employed today. While these tools are not necessary to teach effectively, they can certainly add multiple dimensions to our classrooms.

Articles: Comments

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has tried some of the RSS/ATOM portals, and your experiences. You can either post as a comment or a separate posting. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Commentary: Sotir: "Using RSS and ATOM"

I've been playing with some of the aggregators that I've found, and like some more than others. This is very new technology, but I a amazed by the volume of RSS and ATOM syndications that are available, along with the tools that are developed to view them. Web aggregators, or 'portals' are being offered in a lot of places. As an example, Yahoo has an easy portal for getting relevant information to you on your 'My Yahoo!' page. All you need is the URL of the syndicated Blog or Web site that you want to use. I went to the 'Add Content' area of the My Page site on Yahoo. Under 'Find Content' I chose Add RSS by URL and typed in the RSS feed for this Blog. That immediately added the 'Technology for the Adult Education Instructor' Blog to my Yahoo homepage. It also tells you how long ago content was added, and a simple click takes me to this Blog.

It was an easy check to determine how the portal process works, and frankly, it works well. You can also add specific content areas rather than sites (such as 'Cubs Baseball') and have all RSS feed sites that cover Cubs baseball sent to you. If you're not a current Yahoo user, you can access their site and set up your own My Yahoo! page. Go to www.yahoo.com for more information. Setting a page and getting a Yahoo email address is free.

I have been asked why the AELC Blog does not have a syndication feed. The reason is that the AELC Blog is meant for internal communication, and I don't see the need to open it to anyone else. The Instructor's Blog is open to other colleges and programs, and so the feed makes sense here.

RSS/ATOM is a great new tool. What I like is that adding content areas or URL's to these aggregators is extremely easy. A couple of clicks and you are there. What I didn't like was when I accessed Feedster (which is more of an RSS search engine), and typed in 'Adult Education', some 'interesting' sites popped up. While it listed academic sites, there were also some less than academic 'adult' sites in the mix. Tip: choose your keywords wisely. This is a fairly new process for me as well, so I'll keep you informed about what I find.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Commentary: Sotir: "RSS...It's Magic!"

I'm always fascinated by the many new ways developed to communicate. There are the Blogs and Wikis of course, which are old hat to readers of this site. While not exactly ‘brand new’, many people have not yet heard of RSS, (which stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication), and allows you to be your own Google. And yes, I do realize that words like Blog and Wiki and Google sound more like a script for Star Wars than for an academic environment, but stick with me, kid, and I’ll show you the world as you’ve never seen it before.

Those who know me know that I like, (love, live for) knowledge management. There is just too much data in the world, and not enough time to sort through it all. I live to simplify. Too much data IS a dangerous thing, since its sheer volume threatens its usefulness. Imagine RSS as your personal assistant. You find some interesting Web sites and may even mark them as favorites, so you can go back to them. Of course, the list of favorites grows, but your use of them lessens in time. Yes, they were great sites, but you just don’t have the time to keep reviewing them for new or pertinent information. Enter your RSS personal assistant. By plugging the links to your favorites into an RSS feed reader or aggregator, it delivers frequently changing Web content directly to you. You can get all the new content from favorite sites, or just summaries for you to decide if they are worth a peek. Let the feed readers go out and fetch the new, relevant content for you.

RSS works by setting up keyword searches and then delivering the relevant content directly to you. It works with blogs and Web sites and even e-mail. If you are the owner of a blog or website, and want to get information to a group of people, RSS can let them know that you have a new blog posting. Or perhaps that your conference is coming up, and you want attendees to know what new speakers are on tap. Other Blogs or Web sites, if you choose to open RSS links, can add your information to their sites, furthering the information chain. You always have complete control as to how much email is sent to you. All of those subscriptions to news sites, news groups and other content providers can be channeled into your very own RSS.

Think of RSS as a list maker, and a step beyond marking a site as a 'Favorite' . It takes the sites that you are interested in following, and puts them into a central place. Each of the items will include a title, a short summary, and a link to a URL (such as a Web page or Blog address). Other information, such as the date created and the creator's name may also be included.

So, now of course, you want to know what it takes to reap these amazing benefits.

You need to start with a feed reader. There are Web based readers, e-mail clients and stand-alone applications. I'd suggest starting with a site called Bloglines at: http://www.bloglines.com/ This is a Web based comprehensive site that works great if you have multiple computers, you don’t want to tie up your hard drive by downloading special software and you want to be able to access your reader from any computer, anywhere that is connected to the Web. Their site blurb reads “Bloglines is the most comprehensive, integrated service for searching, subscribing, publishing and sharing news feeds, blogs, and rich Web content. It's free and easy-to-use". There is also a great step by step for using Bloglines located at: http://alex.halavais.net/news/index.php?p=872

Now that you have a feed reader, you need to sign up for feeds that interest you. Go to those sites and look for either an icon with the acronyms RSS, XML or RDF or a site feed address. For example, the syndicated (term used for a site with an RSS feed) address for this Blog is http://wccniuesl.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Just add the RSS feed (XML) to the list of feeds that your aggregator checks. If you are looking for grants, for example, go to the sites which often list grants and see if you can add them to your feed reader. Have a Mac? No problem. There are readers and notifiers that work on PC’s through XP and Mac OS X, and Browsers from Netscape to Explorer to Safari. I've used an XML format called ATOM, which is similar to RSS, as the syndicated feed for this site. RSS is more widely used and supported, but ATOM works best with Blogger sites. This is vaguely reminiscent of the Beta/VHS format wars...

Give it a try. You can keep abreast of new information, news stories, available jobs, or grants. You choose the relevant content. RSS can reduce the amount of email and site subscriptions, and simplify your online life. Now if it would only simplify life offline as well…

Additional sites to explore:
Pubsub: http://www.pubsub.com/
Feedster: http://www.feedster.com/
News Gator: http://www.newsgator.com/home.aspx (this integrates into Microsoft Outlook)