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									Jazzing It Up with
MERLOT RSS Feeds!
A Tutorial on Using MERLOT RSS Feeds in
Personalized Home Pages, Email, and Learning
Management Systems

The purpose of this tutorial is to teach MERLOT users how to
use RSS (“really simple syndication” or “rich site summary”)
feeds with MERLOT. RSS is an acronym that stands for “really
simple syndication” or “rich site summary.” The RSS feeds
allow the user to view the latest updates for newly added and
peer reviewed MERLOT learning resources. While the
tutorial is specific to MERLOT, the concepts can be
generalized for other websites, blogs, news, and podcasts.

Jeanne P. Sewell
5/17/2009
This tutorial is available online at
http://hercules.gcsu.edu/jsewell/RSS.htm


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Contents
Jazzing It Up with MERLOT RSS Feeds                                             3
  Tutorial Objectives                                                           3
  Background Information                                                        3
  Tips and Tricks                                                               4
  Finding and Subscribing to MERLOT RSS Feeds                                   4
  Feeds Delivered to a Personalized Home Page such as MyYahoo! & iGoogle        7
    iGoogle                                                                     7
    MyYahoo!                                                                    7
    Use the links on the MERLOT RSS Connection page. Outlook 2007 eMail         8
  Feeds Delivered with a Learning Management System                             9
    Copy the RSS feed URL                                                       9
    Generate the JavaScript                                                     9
    Add the JavaScript to your course                                          10
  Case Study in the use of RSS Feeds                                           10
  RSS Feed JavaScript Generators for Learning Management Systems               11
  Resources for Adding a URLs to Other Learning Management Systems             11
  Learn More about RSS                                                         11




                                                                           2|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
Jazzing It Up with MERLOT RSS Feeds
Tutorial Objectives
After the completion of the tutorial the participant will be able to:

        1. Find a MERLOT RSS feed.
        2. Subscribe to the RSS feed using their favorite portal site, such as My Yahoo! or iGoogle;
             and/or email, such as GMail, Yahoo Mail, or Outlook 2007.
        3. Integrate RSS into their favorite LMS (Learning Management System).

Before you get started: This tutorial was created using Internet Explorer Version 6. Your views may
differ if you use a different version of Explorer or a different web browser.

Background Information
RSS is an acronym for both Real Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary. RSS provides us with a
way of receiving updates on web information from online web sites. RSS allows us to receive
personalized updates of information, such as news, blogs, and podcasts. RSS feeds are written in XML
(extensible markup language), which is similar to HTML (hypertext markup language). The XML
provides that magic that allows sharing of the information.




Look for the icons or the word Feed
               on websites that you visit. Atom is the alternative open-source form of RSS. You can have
RSS feeds of news updates from particular web sites sent to your personalized home webpage, email, or
learning management system (LMS) course site.

Now that you have a general idea about how to identify a RSS feed, take a look at how you can receive
MERLOT RSS feeds.




                                                                                                3|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
Tips and Tricks

Using a Mac?
"I found the problem on the Mac. Since Safari on the Mac automatically opens an RSS feed rather than
showing the source, you can’t open the page and copy the link to add into iGoogle or Yahoo. On the
RSS channels page, control-click on the RSS feed rather than opening it and choose "copy link" in the
menu that appears. Then paste that into iGoogle or Yahoo to add the RSS feed."
Tracy Standley of McNeese State University

Using Desire2Learn?
"Using RSS in content works beautifully in Desire2Learn almost exactly as you described. In Content,
Add new topic, switch editor to html mode and paste the xml. Save and Voila!"
Thanks for the tips and tricks."

Want RSS Feed on Your Personal Web Site?
Use the JavaScript generator (Step 3) to create the code, then copy and paste it to a blank html page
using your web page editor.
Yvonne


Yvonne Monterroso



Finding and Subscribing to MERLOT RSS Feeds
To find a feed go to the MERLOT website at http://www.merlot.org . When you click on Subscribe Now
by the RSS button at the bottom left corner of the window it will take you to a new window with all of
the MERLOT communities and the three types of RSS feeds:

       Recently Added
       Recently Peer Reviewed
       Top Rated




                                                                                             4|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will use the Faculty Development Recently Added RSS button. To
subscribe to a feed, click on any of the RSS feed buttons for the top 10 materials you want to see. You
can select Recently Added, Recently Peer Reviewed or the Top Rated for a specific discipline. You will
get a new window that has the URL for the feed you selected and a page of xml code (Just ignore the
code for now). Right-click on the URL and select copy from the drop-down menu to copy the URL.

                                                                                              5|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, you will get a new window that has three choices for saving
the RSS feed (See the example below).

       The first choice allows you to add the feed to you iGoogle personalized page. If your iGoogle
        page has multiple tabs, be sure to first open the iGoogle page and click on the tab where you
        want to place the feed.

       The second choice allows you to view the RSS feed in a Google reader.

       The third choice to subscribe to the feed and read it in your Favorites Center (if you use Outlook
        2007 - it will create a feed in your Outlook folders).




The graphic below depicts the window that appears if you select the 3rd choice, "Subscribe to this feed."




If you are using Mozilla Firefox you will get a new window that includes a drop-down menu with choices
for saving the feed. Although there are similarities, the choices are slightly different with Firefox.




                                                                                               6|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
To subscribe to the RSS feeds in MERLOT you will need to decide where you want the feed delivered.
You will finish the subscription process when you determine the delivery method(s). Fortunately, there
are several options. You can have the feeds delivered:

    1. your personalized home page such as MyYahoo! or iGoogle or
    2. email (this option may not readily available with all email delivery systems yet) or
    3. to a Learning Management System where you have online course content.




Feeds Delivered to a Personalized Home Page such as MyYahoo! & iGoogle
If you already have created a personalized home page in Yahoo or Google, go to that web site. If you do
not have a personalized home page yet, create one now.

iGoogle
Sign Up. iGoogle http://www.google.com/ig . Click on the link Don't have an iGoogle page? Get
started. You will be prompted to provide an email address and password. Once you are finished you
will be directed to your personal iGoogle home page.

Follow the directions in MERLOT noted above.

MyYahoo!
Sign up. MyYahoo! http://my.yahoo.com/index.html . At the top left hand corner of the window, click
on New User? Sign Up. You will be prompted to provide an email address and password. Once you are
finished you will be directed to your personal MyYahoo! home page.

In MERLOT, open the MERLOT RSS channel for which you want to subscribe. Copy the URL from the web
browser address bar.


                                                                                              7|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
Add a RSS Feed. At the top-left side of the MyYahoo! window click on Add Content
.



Then click on Add RSS by URL                           .

Paste the MERLOT RSS feed URL and then click on the Add button (see graphic below).




You will receive a verification page (see graphic below).




You are done! When you view your MyYahoo! home page you will be able to view all of your MERLOT
RSS feeds.




            Feeds Delivered by way of Email
Use the links on the MERLOT RSS Connection page. Outlook 2007 eMail
Click the third choice, “Subscribe to this feed” (see graphic below), in the MERLOT RSS feed saves
window and then save to “Favorites Center.”



                                                                                              8|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
Feeds Delivered with a Learning Management System
For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use WebCT VISTA. The process should be very similar for other
learning management systems including Blackboard, Angel Learning, Sakai and Moodle.

Just 3 short steps!

Copy the RSS feed URL
    Click on the RSS feed icon that you want to use in your course
    Copy the URL

Generate the JavaScript
    Open a JavaScript generator web site, for example (other sites noted below), Feed2JS Build
      JavaScript and Preview http://itde.vccs.edu/rss2js/build.php
    Paste the RSS feed URL into the appropriate form spot. For example:




                                                                                              9|Page
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
       Click the Preview Feed Button to preview the feed. Then click Generate JavaScript.




       Highlight and copy the JavaScript code that was generated.




Add the JavaScript to your course
    Navigate to the place in your course where students to view the RSS feed
    Create a new content file.
    Name the file.
    Copy and paste the JavaScript from the code generator.
    Close the file and preview it.
    You are DONE!!

Case Study in the use of RSS Feeds
Linda Villareal, Humanities Department Operations Manager, Kaplan University - 8/8/07




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Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
In our bioethics course we had been using static case studies to bring out the specific ethical reasoning
applications during the course. Both the students and instructors felt that the case studies often seemed
contrived and were not relevant to current technology or issues. To that end, we replaced the static case
studies with an RSS feed link to a health news area of the Washington Post. The students are asked to
review the RSS feed and select a current article/case that illustrates the application of the concept of the
current unit. For instance, they may be asked to pick an article that illustrates the application of utilitarian
reasoning in the case that is portrayed. They are to identify the article, provide a summary and an
analysis on how ethical reasoning was used. This is posted to a discussion board where other students
will read and respond.

 The benefits of this change have been great - First, a case currently in the media cannot be considered
irrelevant as easily. Second, since students have a choice, responses do not become repetitive as everal
articles/cases will be covered in the discussion area. The main learning objective is still being met as the
students apply the ethical reasoning to the current case. And we provide a valuable resource for our
students (mostly already working health care professionals) to current, trends, information and issues
within their profession.

RSS Feed JavaScript Generators for Learning Management Systems
        Feed2JS: Build JavaScript and Preview http://itde.vccs.edu/rss2js/build.php

Resources for Adding a URLs to Other Learning Management Systems
       Adding RSS Feeds to Your Angel 7.x Course http://jmajor.midsolutions.org/?p=174
       Adding RSS Feed to Moodle http://docs.moodle.org/en/RSS

Learn More about RSS
CNET. (2004, July 16). RSS : News you choose. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from
         http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10088_7-5143656-1.html
Corrado, E., & Moulaison, H. (2006). Integrating RSS feeds of new books into the campus course
         management system. Computers in Libraries, 26(9), 61-62.
Heck, M. (2007). Web 2.0 [Electronic Version]. InfoWorld, 29, 20-21. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
King, B. (2009). Drinking from the fire hose: Finding useful drops in the Twitter deluge. Seybold Report:
         Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 9(6), 14(11).
Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2009). Web feeds delivered to your digital doorstep. Teacher Librarian, 36(3),
         66(65).
Microsoft. (n.d.). M S Outlook Add an RSS
         http://office.microsoft.com/client/helppreview.aspx?AssetID=HA101595391033&ns=OUTLOOK
         &lcid=1033
Netscape Forum Center (2008). RSS Delivers Communities to Your Door. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from
         http://channels.netscape.com/forum_center/rss.jsp
PC World. (2003, July 21). What is RSS. Retrieved May 21, 2009 from
         http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,111699-page,1/article.html
Richardson, W. (2005). The ABC's of RSS: Real simple syndication can be a powerful research and
         teaching tool for Internet-inclined educators. Here is how to get started. Technology and
         Learning, 25(10), 20.
                                                                                                   11 | P a g e
Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu
Richardson, W. (2006). Merrily down the stream: RSS makes it easy to gather information. School
        Library Journal, 52(7).
RSS. (n.d.). Wikipedia Retrieved May 21, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss


Note:
        Are you using RSS feeds in your instruction? I will be glad to include them in this tutorial as case
         studies.
     Other suggestions to improve this tutorial?
If so, please email me at jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu.




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Jeanne Sewell, Editor, Health Sciences Editorial Board
Assistant Professor, Georgia College & State University
jeanne.sewell@gcsu.edu

								
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