and am tired of email for communication. I am sold on the use of RSS and would
like to know your opinion regarding using RSS for this endeavor and what
obstacles and/or pitfalls I should prepare for.
It really depends on what aspects of email communication you’re wanting to
replace. For example RSS is no replacement for person-to-person email.
However it’s a great way to publish and broadcast information.
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For example (and I’m making some huge assumptions here), you might publish
administrative bulletins or news via RSS that are picked up by individual
schools or individuals within the schools. Schools might publish news,
schedules, what-have-you via RSS to be picked up by parents, teachers, and even
Heck … teachers could even publish their class assignments via RSS.
There are two parts to the approach: publication and reception.
To publish an RSS feed, the easiest way is probably to set up some kind of
blogging software. I’m a big fan of MovableType, but there are literally
hundreds of alternatives that can do the job. The nice side effect of using
this as the publication means is that it actually hides the fact that there’s
an RSS feed involved at all to the authors … to them it’s just on-line
The good news also is that as needed, access to both the resulting web pages
(if you even choose to expose them) and the feeds can be password protected.
Most RSS readers do support basic authentication associated with feeds. For
example you might want to keep your administrative feeds from being easily
readable by students.
And that does bring us to readers. Whomever you’re targeting with these
feeds will need an RSS reader or aggregator of some sort, and like publishing
platforms, there are many. If your district has standardized on Outlook, for
example, then newsgator is a great
solution. If you need a stand-alone reader, the FeedDemon is nice. There are also web-based aggregators if
the feeds are publicly accessible on the internet – portals like Yahoo do a
nice job in this arena.
But regardless of the tool, your recipients will need one. And that might
just be the biggest hurdle of all … it’s another tool that everyone will have
to get comfortable with.
But I think it’s fantastic way to streamline much of what I expect your
communication needs might be.