The Wildlife Disease Information Node in the image with this post came to my attention through the RSS (really simple syndication) feed from the USGS (United States Geological Survey). By subscribing to the USGS Newsroom feed, I get a headline linked to each news story from the science being done and observed at this major earth sciences institution. As the story from the image shows, the science that can be delivered is real, fresh, and something unlikely to reach a classroom or school lab through print. The subject in this illustration is turtle cancer in Trinidad and Tabago, reported in April 2008. The interactive map is definite cool stuff technically, but is also a superb tool for biological studies.
The potential of RSS is only beginning to be glimpsed across all Net sectors. In promoting the use of RSS for as a public relations tool for online commerce, one of the top firms in online marketing observes:
Feedburner recently reported that they track around 60 million RSS subscribers. Even if that number were 70 million RSS users (counting people that use RSS with other applications or platforms) this would still convert to a meager 5,4% of the Internet users around the world, says Daily Blog Tips.
RSS is a Web 2.0 tool that educators can use to grab fresh learning content. It is also a way that creators of educational resources can spread the word about their materials, as open educational resources MIT Open Courseware is already doing.