RSS as a fundamental educational primitive (Learning from the University of Toroto)

U of T has an interesting technology. Rochelle spearheaded the development of what is basically a "blog based" engine for collaboration, discussion and the like. Every student, professor and TA has a personal blog and are automatically and/or manually enrolled in "groups" such as their faculty, their individual classes, projects, administrative groups and the like.

When the user's blog, their discussions can be tagged as belonging to any number of different groups. When you're responding to someone's post in a class-view you are by default going to respond to the class, but you can make the response private (just you and the person who you are commenting to) or belong to whatever group.

There's all sorts of interesting details in how it works, but the basic reality is that the RSS feeds for a given class can include the discussions, homework assignments, external enhancement material links, and generally everything you need to know about the class. The professors can even grade your comments (hidden from other people) to help them in assigning a grade.

RSS publishing for every student and every teacher, integrated into the Journal with the ability to automatically produce "official" groups while also allowing for manually-created "unofficial" groups for sharing... I know I've described it before, but I was just struck again today by how simple and effective a tool it can be, particularly in distance-education situations...


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