May 31, 2020

Inoreader Search

The Inoreader Search features are amazing; I'm not even going to try to document them all here. Instead, I'll refer you to this overview of Inoreader Search features (including the very powerful Active Search, which is a pro feature).

What I want to discuss here is the free Inoreader search feature which allows you to search all the content in your Subscriptions, including folder-specific searches. That is what gives you the ability to search all your students' blog posts. I use this feature in all kinds of ways, but one of the most important is to make connections between students.

For example, as I am reading the Favorite Places posts during the Orientation Week, one student might mention a specific city or vacation spot, etc., and I'll remember somebody (but who?) also mentioned that place; I just use Search to find the other student, and then I can leave comments for both students alerting them to their common interest. Or I'll notice that someone did a version of the story of how Ganesha got his elephant head; I can use Search to find other students who did a version of that story and let them know so they can compare versions, etc.

In the LMS, student content is spread out through different parts of the system (discussion, assignments, etc.), and there is no global search in Canvas (on the very sad subject of Canvas Search, see this post: The Paradox of Canvas's "Big Data" and Lack of Search). With an Inoreader student blog network, all the students' work leaves a trail in their blog, and Inoreader's Search feature lets me follow those trails and find connections.

One of the biggest advantages of digital content is being able to search that content. So, the lack of good search features in Canvas is one of its biggest drawbacks... while the search features in Inoreader are a big plus!

How Inoreader Search Works

You can search in a specific feed (i.e. an individual student's blog), or in a specific folder (i.e. all the students in a class), or a specific tag (i.e. a specific assignment).

To search in a specific feed, for example, click on the feed in the left-hand menubar to highlight that feed, and then type your search term in the search box. You will then see results for that specific feed:

You can also click on various filtering options; for example, you can expand the search the folder level using that dropdown, as well as other search filtering options.

As always, the Inoreader URL is very clear, and you can even bookmark a search term if you want:

The URL does not contain the feed-specific parameter; it just shows the search term: music. If you bookmark that URL, it will show you "music" across your subscriptions, which you can then delimit using the dropdown filters:

I don't actually have any search terms that I bookmark, but I really appreciate how Inoreader URLs work. If there is a search term you want to bookmark in your browser, you can do that easily!

Next up: I'm going to revisit the power of RSS and talk about RSS content sources beyond the blogging world, starting with Diigo RSS.