Our Netvibes site is the public face of SHEEN Sharing’s original remit: the one-stop-shop, virtual repository/portal type thing that presents a range of quality employability resources, as planned and hoped for when SHEEN Sharing was originally funded in January 2009. It displays selected resources by using feeds out of Diigo, from our Diigo groups and tags, and other Web-based feeds and resources.
Now, as it currently stands it is a sandbox / demonstrator site, mainly designed by me with some help from Cherie Woolmer at Strathclyde University. I am not an employability co-ordinator, so I have used quite a bit of creative licence in trying to imagine the kinds of things the ECN will eventually want to go into the site. It will be much easier for folk to say “not that, this” than to try and think of things from scratch. So please keep that in mind when you have a look!
Even with this in mind, I have learned a lot since January 2009, and received a lot of feedback. So, before we even get to the bit of the project extension where the ECN sits down and hashes out what it wants its Netvibes to look like, I have made a range of improvements and updates, as follows:
Google Scholar Resources Gone :-(
I had to remove all the fabulous Google Scholar feeds. We used a wonderful Yahoo Pipe that enabled me to do a search in Google Scholar (e.g. “employability AND eportfolios”, resources published after 2006) and create a feed in Netvibes that showed the up-to-date results of that search. Google Scholar of course only lists peer-reviewed publications, so this was a very rich resource. However, Google does not allow this kind of feed and they have now blocked this Pipe and others like it from working. Boo! However, I have added a Google Scholar search box here.
EvidenceNet Searches: A Holding Pattern Until They Get Their Feeds Sorted
We are waiting with baited breath for the awesome HEA EvidenceNet repository to start providing feeds of specific searches so we can pop some of these into our Netvibes tabs. So, we hope to be able to search for resources, or events, in EvidenceNet, e.g. with the topic “personal development planning”, get a feed for that search result, put it into Netvibes and thereby always see the most up-to-date list of evidence-based UK resources or events. We know they are going to provide this, they just haven’t yet. In the meantime, I’ve worked out that you can just use the URL of a search results page, and put that into Netvibes as a Web page, and get a rather clunky but still usable display of said search. See here and here and here and here and here.
Delicious Feeds on Work Related Learning: Thanks Glasgow Caledonian!
I discovered some juicy resources tagged on Delicious with “work_related_learning”, so, in the absence of anything immediate on Diigo, I added a feed for that Delicious tag here (along with an above-mentioned EvidenceNet search page). Shout out to Allison Littlejohn and team at Glasgow Caledonian for many of these!
New Version of Diigo Allows Group Tag Feeds: Cocurriculum Resources Tagged by Employability Group
Felt much joy when I realised Diigo had fixed a previous problem in their new version: I now have an example of a Diigo feed for a specific group tag (resources tagged “cocurriculum” by the Employability Group) here. This will be great when we come to adding tag dictionaries to our Google Groups.
New Voluntary Sector Tab with Reflective Student Blogs from SHEEN Placements
Created a new Voluntary Sector tab, which has the feed from the SHEEN Placements blog in it (it’s still there under “Student Resources” too, Fiona, don’t worry!). It also has the project’s Twitter feed, and individual feeds from the two student blogs accompanying the Samaritans placements set up by the project.
Some Content for International Students Tab
Added a couple of EvidenceNet search pages under the International Students tab, which was previously empty.
Small but Significant: You Can Read the Page Title Now!
Changed the colour of the title text to a much more harmonious and readable shade!
Moving Forward: Netvibes Day in November
Still have some empty tabs, and would like some new and exciting ideas from the ECN about what they’d like to see in the Netvibes page. We’ll be having a day-long workshop session to hash it all out and make decisions in November, so please keep an eye on emails on the ECN JISCmail list if you want to take part in that. We’ll use that day to train keen development group members in keeping Netvibes up-to-date after I go, too.
Launch in 2010
And, we’ll be running a launch event in January or February 2010! So please help us make it as good as we can!
Introduction to Newsfeeds
As we noted in the Project Development Group kick-off meeting at the end of January, newsfeeds (e.g. RSS Feeds, Atom Feeds, Podcast Feeds) are the lynchpin to using social media on the Web. Regardless of which Web2.0 tools others in your network or community use, if you can get feeds you can be informed of their news, new resources and relevant discussions as easily as checking your email inbox. Likewise, regardless of what Web2.0 tools YOU choose to use, you can be confident that others will be updated on the new resources or ideas you want to share, because your own tools will allow them to receive feeds.
Choosing a Feed Reader
There are many feed tools out there for you to choose from. Some allow you to log into a website to check your feeds, some sit on your desktop and pull feeds down off the web. It’s similar to the two main ways you might get email: you may log onto the Hotmail or Gmail service on the web, for instance, to read your emails, or you may have Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird or similar on your own computer, pulling your emails in for you. It doesn’t matter which reader you use; you can experiment.
The two tools we looked at in the project kick-off meeting were Google Reader on the web, and Mozilla Thunderbird on the desktop, mainly because these are the two tools I currently use, so I was able to show the Development Group a bunch of existing newsfeeds and how they work, how I organise them, where they come from, and so on.
Getting Started With Feeds
To get started, if you haven’t already, go to http://www.google.co.uk/reader/ and sign up to get a Google account- if you already have one you can just use that. Or, feel free to experiment with some other free tool.
Alternatively, have a look in your email client’s help section to see how to set up feeds in the same tool as your email. For instance, in Thunderbird, go to Tools > Account Settings > News & Blogs > Manage Subscriptions > Add. You will be given a box to enter a new Feed URL.
Getting Feeds: The Feed URL
Whatever feed tool you use, the key is the Feed URL. By giving the Feed URL for a site or service to your feed reader, you are ensuring that every time you look in your reader, you will see the latest updates from that site or service.
The best way to start for this project would be to subscribe to the feed for this blog. That way you will be updated every time there is a new posting added to the blog. To do this, look near the bottom of the columns on the right, under Site Admin & Feeds. Click on Entries RSS and you will get the Feed URL. If you have already signed up for Google Reader, clicking this link should immediately open a Google Reader page allowing you to put this feed into your reader. If you are using an email client or other tool, you can copy and past the Feed URL into whatever form or box that tool gives you for subscribing to feeds.
Feeds for Specific Pages, Postings and Comments
You may find you want to monitor comments on this blog, to see if anyone has posted a comment on something you have written, or just to keep up with discussions. Under Site Admin & Feeds you will see a link for Comments RSS – selecting this will give you a comments feed.
You can also get feeds for particular pages or blog postings on this blog. For instance, click on Welcome to the SHEEN Sharing Project to see the welcome page for this blog. If you look up in the browser address box, where the URL for the page is, you will see the RSS Feed icon to the right . Wherever you see this icon on the web, you can click it to get a feed for the resource it is attached to. In this case, clicking it will give you a news feed just for that page; you will be notified of any additions, edits, or comments for the page.
Do you have websites or discussion forums that you check regularly, as part of your work, to follow the news, or for personal interests? Go have a look and see if they offer a feed. You can add this to your feed reader too, and find out how much time you can save just going to one place to be notified of updates to things you are interested in.
Feeds and Your Daily Routine
Once you have a feed or some feeds of interest to you set up in your reader, you can have your own routine with checking them. It’s similar to email: feeds can be a great source of news, information and help, but they can also take your time away from other tasks if you check them too often, or if you feel obliged to read every single news item that comes in. You’ll have to employ similar feed management strategies as you do with email; in fact, simply checking your feeds each time you go in to check your email might be a good starting point.
Incoming Feeds on this Blog
You may have noticed in the columns to the right, there are some items with the feed icon next to them. These are trial examples of using other sites’ feeds to pull relevant content into this blog for our community to use. At the time of writing, I’ve set up two incoming feeds. One is Project Documents from Scribd and the other is SheenSharing Bookmarks from Delicious. I’ll explain more about these in future postings here, but the general idea is that Cherie and I can use Scribd to post documents such as project plans, presentation slides, etc. on a free site called Scribd; I have set up a feed from Scribd, just for our group’s documents, into our blog page. So if you click on the links there you will be taken to the relevant project document on Scribd, and allowed to read or download it. Each time we add a new document, the feed in the right-hand column is automatically updated. Similarly, we are using Delicious, a free site for sharing bookmarks, to collect links of relevance to the project. We tag them on Delicious with the unique tag “sheensharing”, and we have a feed coming into the blog which lists all items with that tag.
So: this is your sandbox: feel free to play in it, get started with a feed reader and some feeds, and please post comments, questions and feedback here so others can benefit from your experience and offer you theirs.
The next posting from me will be about getting you started in writing your own posts here on the blog!