Here is a brief overview of Google reader. If you aren’t sure what a reader is, or what it is for, you should really watch this Common Craft on RSS in plain English first.
Google Reader is an application which lets you pull information to you rather than searching for information on the web. Blogs, newspaper, even Twitter, publish links called feeds which you can use to subscribe to their services and they will push information to you.
This application is a way of reading information online using syndication. It’s much like having online newspapers delivered to you, rather than searching for the newspapers in the shop.
How this can be used for professional networking:
First you search for blogs written by teachers. One easy source is to go to http://edublogawards.com/ and subscribe to all of the nominees of the blogs.
How this can be used in the classroom:
Students can also search for and find blogs and other feeds to follow. On a regular basis they will be pushed information. As well, students can subscribe to each other’s blogs and have a single place to read all of the comments and posts from their peers. A classroom could have subscriptions to a number of sources, and you could share the posts with the class as a current events section or something similar.
Advantages of this application:
It’s easy to use, it has a number of straight forward features, such as the useful ‘recommendations’ which are other feeds that Google thinks you should subscribe to, based on what you have already found. It is also nice because it has a single sign on with other Google applications, and finally, there are nice applications for mobile browsers, so you can get your feeds on the go. Finally, Google reader also works when you are offline using Google Gears, which means that you can download your feeds when you have a connection and then read them when you are offline.
Disadvantages of this application:
This application has no serious disadvantages that I can think of, except that finding the subscriptions in the first place can be a tricky. I find the interface fairly easy to use, but I could imagine it could be a bit daunting for someone who is just getting started.
Similar tools: (if applicable)