Saturday, October 18, 2014

Connecting with InoReader: My Connected Courses Project

So, how did THAT week disappear??? Man... I blinked, and it was gone. I have not done any Connected Courses since last Monday where I really - REALLY - enjoyed the webinar with Gardner Campbell et al.

The semester will continue at its all-consuming pace for the remaining weeks of Connected Courses, in which I really do want to participate, so that means I need A PLAN.

And I think my plan is going to be a new experiment in connectedness, rebuilding my PLN in Inoreader, seeing if I can streamline and optimize the time/spaces when/where I interact with people. I am feeling scattered, and not in a good way, right now. On the one hand, I know that every bit of connectedness helps make not just my job, but my life, more enjoyable and valuable... but it can also become overwhelming and confusing.

So, I know that Google+ will continue to be at the center of my online life... but there are a lot of people who are not on Google+ and never will be, and some of my Google+ buddies also have strong online presences elsewhere. Right now, I've got Google+ going but also Feedly and Twitter and Inoreader... and I don't feel like I am doing a good job of keeping up. So, with the new Twitter integration announced at Inoreader this week, I am going to make it my Connected Courses Project to get myself "connected" at Inoreader, and see if I can start 2015 with a less hectic sense of connectedness.

Well, even as I type that, I know that life online is going to be hectic. But I know I will learn a lot by TRYING to do this anyway, ha ha. It's like housecleaning: yeah, your house is going to get messy again. But that doesn't mean you should give up on housecleaning. Just the opposite: it makes it all the more imperative (I speak from personal experience there...).

So, I'll be documenting here the steps I take to explore and make better use of Inoreader! Here's what I did this morning:

1. Chrome Extension. I installed the Inoreader Chrome extension. DOH. I cannot believe I had neglected to do that. This makes it super-easy to subscribe to content while browsing. I wish the extension let me put stuff in folders as I add it, but that's not a really big deal - the dashboard in Inoreader is really good at reminding me to sort and arrange things there.

2. Rules Clean-Up. I rewrote my rules so that they are better labeled and organized, and so that they are folder-driven. Before, I was using Inoreader for my classes only, so I could run the rules on "all incoming." Now, I run the rules on my class folders, and that way as I add new feeds, I'll be able to write other folder-driven rules for different kinds of content. That leads to a couple of duplicated rules as a result (some rules I run on both classes), but no big deal. Rules are, for me, a key feature of Inoreader. With my current subscription level ($30/year), I can have 20 rules... although I really am on the verge of upgrading to the top level ($50/year) so that I can have unlimited rules.

... Upgrade ... Well, as I typed that, I talked myself into upgrading. Because really, $20/year more is nothing... and the rules are amazing. It would be silly for me not to experiment with lots of different rules in order to save $20. So... pause while I go upgrade.... upgraded.

3. Import Student Comment Feeds. So, the first new kind of content I added was my students' Blogger comments. This was easy to do. I just export the OPML file from Inoreader of my students' blogs (two folders, one for each class I teach), and changed "posts" to "comments" in the OPML file (based on the Blogger convention; they all ended up choosing Blogger), and then imported the new OPML files. Easy-peasy. I don't really need any rules for the comments (although I like the idea that I could play around with that in future...!). Since I now have those in Inoreader instead of Feedly (where they were before), I can now share them with you and you can see what a super job my students do with comments!
Indian Epics
Right now they look a little funky because the import brings them in by blog, not by date, but as new comments come in this weekend, you'll see more current comments at top of the clippings.

4. Twitter Integration. This is something very intriguing to me. I would like to be a good Twitter user and I try hard to be one... but I am not. I am good at using Twitter to connect with people at my school and good at using Twitter to support my classes... but I am not good at using Twitter as part of my professional network, even though I know that some of my very favorite people online use Twitter as their primary online presence. So, my goal is to use the new Twitter integration with Inoreader to see if I can do a better job of keeping up with Twitter because it will be in the same place together with the blogs that I do read faithfully. I am a good blog reader (based on time availability), but not a good Twitter user (even though Twitter doesn't take as much time). Will the integration help me? We'll see! I am going to focus on subscribing to the people who either use Twitter exclusively (no blog, no Google+) and people who use Twitter in a way that is substantially different than their blog and/or G+ presence. Here are the advantages I expect to gain from subscribing to Twitter feeds in Inoreader:

* Read together with blogs. Of course, I need to do a good job of getting my blogs moved over also; I've been using Feedly but will be so glad to move on. Feedly wasn't bad but it just wasn't good either.

* Use rules and search. I really have not explored Inoreader searches because I haven't needed that with my students; now that I will be using it as my primary reader, search will be GREAT.

* Use tags. Lack of a feature like that is probably my biggest problem with Twitter. Plus I can create all kinds of tags based on all kinds of purposes.

* View options. In particular, I will be able to see full-size of images instead of just card view. I like images, and the viewing experience in Inoreader works well for me. Twitter doesn't offer different options like that.

* Curate effectively. I think I can have 60 Twitter feeds with my top-line subscription; that definitely should be enough to keep up with the people I truly need to keep up with.

* Quickly share with Google+. I tested that this morning and I really like it. Being able to single click to Google+ with my comments is also really good; I often just cannot compress what I have to say into 140 characters.

Okay, I'll stop there. This will be my first post in new Connecting-with-Inoreader project. More to come. Right now, I am seriously excited. The Twitter integration was perfect timing for me so, thanks again to the Inoreader guys! As I work through this step by step, I think I am going to feel much more happily connected than I did before.

No, Inoreader cannot give me MORE time to spend connecting with people online... but I am optimistic that it can help me to spend that time better!

Fingers crossed. I'll report back later as I work on my Twitter integration experiment!

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