Friday, July 30, 2010

Leadership Day 2010 #leadershipday10

A year ago, I wrote my very first blog post for Leadership Day 2009. Since then, I have begun picking up steam as an edu-blogger. For most of the school year, I used this blog to highlight the great work going on at school. Occasionally, I posted my opinions. I really got going in June when I took a challenge to write every day. July has been a month of vacation from most things school-related (except the a couple blog posts and virtual #ntcamp).

Now, Scott McLeod, has put out the call for Leadership Day 2010. Since I have vacation brain, I will shy away from deep, thoughtful missives about leadership. Instead, I will stick with a practical, concrete topic. One of Scott's prompts for those of us who like being prompted was this:
What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?

To start, I would refer you, dear reader, to my short series of posts about Organization for Principals that I spilled in June. Then, I wrote about using gMail to manage todos (I still do); Evernote as the most amazing note keeper; Dropbox, the one folder that rules them all; and our fledgling steps to use Google Docs.

Today, I will write about RSS.

RSS might be one of the most essential tools for a school principal. Although it will not help manage the flood of tasks, RSS will help a leader immeasurably.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (I have seen variants on that theme). Basically, RSS lets you keep track of many other websites. A classic use is to subscribe to the RSS feed from your favorite news organization. Instead of going to the news website, you go to your RSS reader (more on that in a moment) and read the headlines. Then, decide which to click on and read.

As a principal, I subscribe to the RSS feeds of many education bloggers from all over the world and the ideological spectrum (I can't prove that and suspect I may be reading a more heterogeneous set of viewpoints). I also follow several other topics of personal interest.

Google provides the standard for web-based RSS readers with Google Reader. Most of the desktop and mobile RSS readers will either sync with Google Reader or merely be a front for it. For many months, I used Reader. As my list of feeds grew, I found that it was getting hard to keep up with all of the articles that I wanted to follow. Now, I use an add-on called Feedly. I like the My Digest view because I can easily see what there is to read. Feedly is available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

On my iPhone, I have been searching for the best way to read the feed. Again, I started with Google Reader for mobile (a website visited through mobile Safari). Good, but sometimes slow to launch Safari. I have tried several in the past month, and I think I will settle on MobileRSS. I am currently using the free version, but I might pay $1.99 to get rid of ads. MobileRSS seems the easiest and cleanest. It just updated to version 3 and is a great improvement.

What ever way you choose to look at your feeds, RSS is the best way to follow lots of thinkers and ideas with the minimum amount of work (of course, Twitter helps with this too, but that is a different story).

Updated: Here is my collection of Education Related Blogs and Feeds. You can also see this on the left side of my blog.