1. PLN Re-Connected. I have managed to connect with my PLN via their blogs and Twitter thanks to the power of Inoreader. This feels great! I'm still not the best at using Twitter, but Inoreader has really helped me a lot. Google+ is still my main place for hanging out online, but I am using Inoreader every day to do a better job of keeping up with people's blogs and with Twitter. The results have been fantastic; one way to see that is in my weekly news round-up. I am so much more in touch now with the great things people are writing and the great things people are doing with their classes: News Round-Ups.
2. Content Curation at My Omnifeed. For several years, I've been aware that I am seriously failing at curation. I do okay with my classes (and even there, lots of room for improvement), but I do a pretty terrible job of curating the important things I find online beyond what is happening in my classes. Google+ and Twitter are ephemeral spaces, with basically no useful curation tools. I tried using Diigo and IFTTT, but that didn't work for me for all kinds of reasons. But when I created my Omnifeed at Inoreader, that gave me the basis to build a real curation strategy! I need to write that up in a separate post but, suffice to say, Inoreader now shows me all my "stuff" (what I post AND what I share) in my blogs, at Google+, at Twitter, at Diigo and at Pinterest all in one place. Once that happened, I was able to develop what I think is a good curation strategy that moves content with long-term value from ephemeral spaces (Google+, Twitter) to more stable spaces (blogs, Diigo). Here's more about that: Inoreader Omnifeed.
3. New Inoreader Google Site. Yes, believe it or not, I am building a little website to document my use of Inoreader: Teaching with Inoreader. I wanted to do this both for my own sanity (I might forget all the great things I learned this semester!) and also to make it easier to share with others. I've been getting lots of inquiries from people about Inoreader (thanks especially to Alan Levine for the shout-out at the Blog Talk Garage!), and I wanted to organize by scattered thoughts in one place. Normally blogs are the way I think/work: in the moment, piece by piece, always changing, totally ad hoc. This time, though, I needed something more permanent and organized. Plus, it's a fantastic way for me to experience again what it's like to build a Google Site. There are some real limitations to Google Sites, but some real advantages too, and as a result of building/maintaining this site, I will do a better job of supporting my students as they use Google Sites too!
4. Reignited Love of RSS. My main motivation for joining Connected Courses was to see Alan's blog syndication machine in action. The whole process of joining up and then getting to see all the blog posts in the stream was really thrilling for me. I love everything about how that works, and I am so glad for the people I have met in Connected Courses who are super-fabulous bloggers, like Simon Ensor, Maha Bali, Mariana Funes, and so many others! And just look at how different their blogs are: so many blogs and so many ways to blog! My Inoreader solution is very different: people cannot "self-enroll" to create an ever-expanding community, for example. But still, I am amazed at the way my students can blog in their own individual space, designing and developing that space on their own; then, at the same time I can keep up with all of them, making good use of their content in new ways that helps the class as a whole, while also helping me do a better job as a teacher... all because of the power of RSS which sets the content free and lets it be shared!
So, really, this has been such a great semester for me — thanks to my fabulous students, thanks to all the great people in Connected Courses, thanks to the genius engineers at Inoreader... and also thanks to Aaron Swartz who, when he was thirteen years old, joined the group of people who brought us RSS to begin with. When he died, you could see headlines that referred to him (justifiably) as the "creator of RSS." If you do not know about Aaron Swartz, you can find out more at Wikipedia; the photo below shows him in 2008, and I've embedded a video below: The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. Be warned: you will cry. But you will feel both awe and gratitude, too. (The RSS part starts at 8 minutes in.)