Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Google Reader

Google Reader is a powerful application that permits users to wade through all the information available on the Web, and collect only that which is of interest, or use. It provides users with a goldmine of ideas to share with others, and it keeps them well-informed on current events. I once read the newspaper faithfully each morning; now I read my RSS subscriptions. It is an application every administrator and educator can use to remain well-informed and current on any topics of interest. What is it administrators and educators need to be able to do with Google Reader to take advantage of its capabilities? Here’s my short list of Google Reader  tips.

Set Up Subscription Folders: This feature allows Google Reader users to organize their RSS feed subscriptions into folders. For example, I have arranged my Web site news feeds into a single folder. By having my subscriptions organized into folders, I can better access them, and I can keep my highest interest feeds in a single location. Using folders makes it easy for me to sort items for easy access. Setting up folders will help users get the most out of Google Reader, and customize it to their specific needs.

Review Reader Trends: This feature allows users to review the statistics that capture their RSS reading habits over the past 30 days. For example, my own Google Reader trends tells me I’ve read a total of 300,000+ items since September 27, 2010.  The Trends feature also provides statistics about which feeds get read the most, which items you've clicked on the most, which items you've starred the most, and which items you've shared and emailed the most. You also can review which RSS Feeds are the most inactive and most obscure. This information is useful because it allows users to pare those RSS subscriptions that aren't providing useful information, or are not being read very often. The Reader Trends feature is an excellent tool for getting an overall picture of where a user is getting most of his or her information.

Share and Star RSS Items Read: Google Reader also allows users to share items from their RSS subscriptions too. For example, I recently stumbled on an article about the North Carolina state budget that had some details I thought a colleague might find interesting. Google Reader allowed me to send that article to that person with comments through email. The "Star" feature of Google Reader allows users to mark items for further reading later. By putting a star on them, users can simply click on the star folder and access the items individually. The share feature allows administrators to share resources found in the RSS subscriptions with others, and the star feature provides them with a tool to keep those items available for quick access.

Taking advantage of any RSS reader's capabilities makes the task of being well-informed much easier. There are certainly other RSS readers out there with more features, but Google Reader's power lies in a combination of simplicity, and features that help readers be organized and informed.

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