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Using Blogs and Feed Readers to Improve Your Internet Experience


As you may have noticed, the Homepage has changed to a blog format. A 'blog' is, simply stated, a page on which updates can be made quickly. I update the homepage each day with new content, links to interesting articles and resources and highlight various areas of the site.

Feed Reader Technology

So far so good, however, the great thing about blogs is that you can use RSS feed readers (RSS is just a technical standard - a 'feed' is the information source) to receive an update when new information has been posted to any number of blogs. Keep the feed reader open, and you get short titles of new content as soon as it's added. I've been using Feedreader (download for free at FeedReader) to monitor a number of sites about education, technology, news, etc.

Saving Time

The time spent trying to find valuable information and resources and actually reading these resources has been cut dramatically. There is SO much information available that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up. Blogs point out interesting new content, places to look for new information, etc. By using a feed reader (also called syndicating) you can scan the headlines of sites you know will provide interesting information.

An Example

Let's say I'm an ESL teacher who works teaching business English and English to middle-school students in Japan. I can set up my feed reader to accept new business stories from Asia with these feeds: Asia Business Intelligence and AsiaOne. I can then add feeds from the International Education Webzine for information concerning teaching techniques. I might also add the feed for this site to keep me posted on new content and general ESL teaching information. Of course, I've probably got other interests: tennis, technology, German culture, etc. - so I'll add feeds from sites providing information on those subjects. Once I've finished, I just open my feed reader and the new content gets pushed to me in easily digestible headlines.

Isn't This Just Another New Geeky Thing?

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical of this technology at first. It just seemed like a new twist on an old story. However, after having used the feedreader for the past few weeks, I can only encourage you to give it a try. It really does dramatically reduce wasted surfing time, and gets you to the interesting content quickly. If you give this a try, you can add the feed to http://esl.about.com by using this address: http://0.tqn.com/6/g/esl/b/index.xml In this way, when I update the site with new information, you'll get a quick summary. If it's something that interests you, click on the link and you'll be taken to the content.

No Advertising

I know that this site is sometimes overloaded with advertising. One of the great things about using a feed reader is that you receive no advertising with the new headlines. Just a headline, a short description, and a link to visit if you are interested - no slow loading images, just a short summary of new content.

What to Expect

I'll not only be creating new exercises, lesson plans, etc. but also pointing out interesting news and resources regarding ESL learning and teaching from around the Internet. I'll do my best to guide you to the best content on the site, as well as from around the Internet.

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