Google Reader (as pictured) is a feed reader which allows the user to subscribe and read RSS and Atom feeds while online or offline (About.com, 2009) (Wikipedia, 2009). RSS (really simple syndication) and Atom are types of feeds which are lists of updated items from blogs, webpages or photo albums which can be a simple headline or an entire entry (About.com, 2009). After subscribing to my very own Google Reader I have found it quite easy to navigate my way around the page and easy to subscribe to the many different blogs or webpages I find interesting and wish to follow. By locating the RSS button on any webpage/blog (as featured)
I am able to follow and keep tabs on any new entries made by my peers making my life easy as I am able to read ALL new posts without trying to continously navigate my way back to their blogs/webpages wasting valuable time and my patience! Another aspect of this particular tool I find helpful and easy is my ability to create and sort these feeds into category folders and change the names so it is easier for myself to know who or what has made the latest update.
I think this is a fantastic tool to incorporate into the classroom to enhance the students knowledge base and skills. I would do this through asking each student to create their own blog (of course with the correct and proper safety measures taken) and ask students to use this as a collaborative tool to assist with developing their understandings on the content presented during lessons (homework). This will allow students to help each other (peer tutoring) in developing a deeper understanding of new processes learnt and allows those 'shy' students a chance to become actively involved within discussions and express their views and ideas without having to be face to face with others. The Google Reader will then allow these students to be able to keep tabs on each students entries without having to navigate their way to each page. It will also provide an effective tool for students to gather information from websites that may help them with assessment items. This pedagogical practice fits snugly with Kearsley & Shneiderman's(1999) engagement theory. It emphasises collaboration amongst a community of learners while providing active processes such as reasoning, problem solving and reflections (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). This also creates an opportunity for self directed learning as the collaborated ideas that may be posted by students can lead to ideas for assessment pieces providing an authentic and engaging focus for students.