Home Free Tools & Resources It’s a Scan, Click, Explore World: 5 Great Tools With Customizable Feeds

It’s a Scan, Click, Explore World: 5 Great Tools With Customizable Feeds

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(Example of Hootsuite Content Aggregator Content)

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One of the wonders of the web-enabled world we live in is the ease with which we can get customized ‘news' feeds. There are so many tools available that will let you define the specific sources, words or phrases, hashtags, etc., that you want to see and scan. These tools let you quickly learn what's new, what's trending, what experts are sharing, and more, all focused on the topics you care most about.

The feeds from these sources can be quick and easy to peruse in a “scan and click” mode (more or less depending on the tool). Whether you are a teacher, a student, a professional of any type, a hobbyist … whatever your role and whatever the topics … you can target information feeds coming to you to help you stay informed, and position you to re-share relevant content with others who care, using tools like these.

Google Alerts

One of the tools I first used and still love is Google Alerts. To have a stream of input about anything delivered to your email In Box, try a Google Alert. All you need is a Google Account, and the knowledge of how to set up the Alert. It’s easy to do – in the brief tutorial video below, I explain how to use this powerful tool (this was created back in 2010, but I don't think the process has changed much). Google News is somewhat similar, but I prefer Google Alerts as it is more encompassing.

Reddit

Reddit is tremendously popular, with an Alexa ranking (at the moment I write this) of 9 in the US – that's right, the 9th most popular site on the entire web, out of like a bazillion sites. One of the reasons I blog is to keep learning … I did not realize just how popular Reddit is until I wrote this and checked. I'm looking forward to getting to know it better. Here is where I am going to start: How To Use Reddit Productively. Yes, You Read That Correctly.

Twitter #Hastags and Experts (Tip: Use an Aggregator like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to save time)

While most users of social media may use it in a social sense – exchanging interests and insights, highs and lows, humor and frustrations, with friends and loved ones, there is another side to social media that can be highly productive for professionals, or indeed, anyone interested in anything. Using social media to follow experts, groups, and hashtags focused on your interests can provide a simple, quick way to have an easy feed to scan.

Twitter is an excellent example of this, and the mighty hashtag is one of the keys that makes it so. As Robots and Pencils CEO (and former Seton Hill University CIO) Phil Komarny says, “Twitter is an individualized & self-paced research/learning tool”.

Phil Komarny Twitter Self Paced Learning

 

One key to making Twitter extra helpful and efficient is to use an ‘aggregator' tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, where you can set up viewing columns to filter content – this can make it a breeze to see the latest posts on specific topics. Both of these tools offer excellent free functionality (and Hootsuite offers much richer functionality for under $10/month). Below is an example image from Hootsuite showing two columns – one filters on #edtech or #digitallearning and the other filters on a couple flipped classroom hashtags (and yes, you can do this with the free version of Hootsuite).

Hootsuite-column-example

Feedly

Feedly is another tool that I came across while researching this article and it looks pretty awesome. You can bring together News Feeds, Google Alerts, blogs, publications, and much more! They've made it easy to get started: http://blog.feedly.com/tutorials/.

Facebook Feeds

There is more to Facebook than following friends! If you follow the pages focused on topics you appreciate, you can jump right to those feeds with the Pages Feed button or link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/feed/. Try it!

These are just of few of the many tools at our disposal to make staying up on important topics an absolute breeze in this modern, mobile, information-soaked world. How about you … what are you favorites?

 

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