[Aggregators & Podcatchers]

The amount of information that is available from the Web which should/could be used in your classroom in absolutly astounding. Our students can surf the Web and find more up-to-date information faster than we can deliver it in a lecture. "In a age of overflowing information and proliferating media, kids need to rapidly process what's coming at them and distinguish between what's reliable and what isn't. It's important that students know how to manage it, interpret it, validate it and how to act on it." says Dell executive Karen Bruett, who serves on the board of the Partnership of 21th Century Skills, a group of corporate and educational leaders focused on upgrading American education.

[Juice Logo]  Google any academic subject and the number of informational sites is staggering. For example, if you search World History there are 892,000,000 hits. Add the term podcast or filetype:rss after the subject search name and the numbers are still high. For example Shakespeare Podcast will show 1,010,000 hits.

With the subject search of anything multimedia, there are similar results. Google Photoshop, for example, and there are approximately 107,000,000 results. Add podcast to the search — Photoshop podcast — and there are still 4,840,000 hits. Any of these could provide free information that any teacher might use as part of their lesson plans or in the classroom. How can any teacher or student possibly visit even as little as 10% of these sources? Aggregators and Podcatchers can provide great help with the management of this amount of information.

[Podcast Icon]   An aggregator, sometimes referred to as a news aggregator or feed reader, is a software that uses a web feed to retrieve syndicated web content (RSS) or mainstream mass media web sites. An instructor or student can create a customized set of search results and the feed reader will search designated sites for any new materials. Podcatcher is a term also given to RSS readers, however, this particular software usually will download and play both audio and video podcast (vidcast).

Podcast Receiving Software

Browsers including Apple Safari, Mozilla FireFox and and Internet Explorer can be used as aggregrators, I prefer the stand alone applications. There is an extensive list of aggregators / podcatchers to the right on this page. My favorites are below. I selected these because they are free, easy to set-up and to use.

Set Up

[RSS Logo] Set-up is very easy. Download the software, Open the RSS directory and begin to customize your feeds. Anytime you find a new site, blog or other educational material that you would like to follow, if it has the RSS logo, drag it to the directory. On PC readers, you may have to type the address into the program. Up date at any time, the aggregator will list all the new materials which are available. Click to download the files. Instead of taking the time to check all of your favorite sites, the RSS reader will do it for you.

I use Feed because it shows so much of information before a download. I also use Juice for its speed in downloading podcats and vidcasts. Lastly, I use iTunes to play and access music or the other materials at the iTunes Store.

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