What's an RSS Learning Tool?


An RSS learning tool is a video podcast learning aid that is immediately available to a subscriber via an automatic link to the subscriber's browser program, email, or RSS reader. It may be a user guide, a job aid covering key topics from a completed course, an overview/summary of a topic, a step-by-step procedure, a specification sheet, or any other information that reinforces learned material. The learning tool may support any form of training delivery, including individual instruction, classroom, distance learning, correspondence, or computer-based instruction. Formats for the RSS learning tool include movies, automated slide shows with or without audio, static documents, and pictures. The learning tool is often downloaded to a personal viewing device, such as an iPod/iPhone or Zune for later off-line use.


A person gets an RSS learning tool by subscribing to an RSS feed. This is done by inputting a feed's web address (URL) into a reader, which may be embedded in a web browser (e.g.: Microsoft Outlook 7.0), or stand-alone (e.g.: iTunes or Google Reader). Another way to subscribe is to click on an RSS link (a symbol like this or this ) on a web page.


RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Content in an RSS feed is delivered to a subscriber as "episodes," which are manageable chunks of information delivered on a regular basis to subscribers. After subscribing, the user receives episodes into an easily identified electronic folder. Potential subscribers can preview content from episodes on the RSS before subscribing to decide whether they wish to receive regular updates.


Previewing is an important feature, because if the preview takes too long to download, the potential subscriber may never take the subscription. Some episodes (such as movies) may need to be long, but to avoid loss of interest by a potential subscriber who is sampling content, these episodes should carry a warning in their description about the time to download.


Complete portability and automatic updating give the RSS learning tool unbelievable versatility as a training aid, but training effectiveness depends upon carefully matching the application to its audience.


Job aids and procedures, for example, are best used as reinforcement to classroom or paper-based courseware. They should therefore be short (less than 3 minutes), and highly graphic. The ideal aid contains 10 to 12 pictures, displayed for 15 - 20 seconds each. (Remember, however, that many viewing devices allow for a pause function, where the graphic can remain on the screen longer, if the user needs extra time.)


Overview introductions to a topic or tutorials can be longer, but to retain subscriber attention should not exceed 10 minutes. The purpose is to provide a sort of "Reader's Digest" view of the information, for general knowledge or to whet the viewer's appetite for more detailed training. Audio and full motion video are good matches for this application.


Specifications and white papers can also be delivered as RSS learning tools, but depending upon the format of the original document, downloads to personal viewing devices may be limited to text without graphics.


RSS learning tools can be created for your organization by KnowledgeLink, Inc. as part of the KnowledgeKeep product line. The advantage of using our service is its flexibility and targeted delivery to your intended audience. We code and store your source documents on our server, eliminating the need for in-house IT support and dedicated storage. Your content privacy can be protected by password access. Your subscribers receive automatic notification of new learning tools, separate from email flows that are often ignored or tagged as spam.


To see examples, please access the Business Systems Configurations episodes of the Mobile Learning Tools RSS feed. To learn more about how KnowledgeKeep services can make your training more effective, click on the email button at the KnowledgeLink, Inc. web site, www.knowledgelinkinc.com or send us an email at info@knowledgelinkinc.com