Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Consuming Content via Google Reader

Learning to throttle one's information stream is a key trait of digital literacy (under the category we call "consume"). Finding lots of blogs and websites isn't hard, but it is not efficient to go checking those websites routinely. It is easier to use a "feed reader" or news aggregator to bring all of those content streams to you, much like you receive email. Enter Google Reader. This is not the only feed reader available, but it is a very good one and is tied in well with other Google products such as Gmail and Google+.  (More on that below)

I also love Google Reader because it can be used on any device and can be accessed through a large variety of software clients. On the web I simply go to But on my iPad I read my Google Reader feeds via Feedler and Flipboard. On my iPhone I use Byline -- all of those simply accept my Google credentials and synchronize perfectly across programs and devices. I find it very easy to stay current with all of my students blog posts by checking my Google Reader in these various ways.

I have created the following tutorial to walk people through how to set up Google Reader to follow, read, and manage feeds from a set of blogs or websites. If you have ideas for better practices of consuming using Google Reader (or another feed reader), please chime in on the conversation. 

One thing I failed to mention in the video is how well you can use Google Reader with Google+. (This brings together the "consume" and "connect" parts of digital literacy.) When reading an item in a feed, one can click on the +1 at the bottom of that item, which then gives you the option of sharing that item with any of your Google+ circles. Try it!