What are Web Aggregation Tools?

Aggregation is the process of transparently gathering together distributed pieces of online content based on an interest in the topic(s), the author(s), or other shared characteristics. RSS readers are one way to aggregate data, but with the increase in personal publishing, new tools for aggregation are emerging. Using these tools, readers can easily track a distributed conversation that takes place across blogs, Twitter, and other publishing platforms, as well as pull in relevant resources from news feeds and other sources. Some educators and students are seeking alternatives to course management systems, preferring to open their discussions and make use of a variety of tools instead. Aggregation can reunite course discussions that once took place within CMS forums, even if they are scattered among different platforms and tools. Aggregation can allow a class to visualize its conversations in new ways. Information is available when and where the reader wishes, in almost any desired format.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • There is a continual need to make it easier and more efficient to manage and process the ever increasing flow of information and data and we are seeing more approaches that appeal to the human visual capability to characterize and sort symbols - alan alan Aug 23, 2010
  • The challenge is to move on from aggregation per se, even crowdsourced versions, to tools that enable more actively personalised aggregation and management of the content. The push to mobility may help here by supporting tools like the PLoS app http://everyone.plos.org/2010/06/15/plosipadapp/, Read It Later or Instapaper that support content gathering when bandwidth is freely available and then consumption/use when convenient or as needed. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 25, 2010
  • RSS continues to be a troublesome concept for staff and students so I agree with Alan that we need to make the process easier for users especially as we move to integrating multiple platforms and tools. A personal learning homepage that can combine required study related feeds with personal aggregation is needed but I've yet to see it done well anywhere. Another aggregation need grappled with is how in a course of 500 students individual/small group contributions made in personal spaces can be aggregated in a sensible, manageable way for assessment and feedback purposes - robyn.jay robyn.jay Aug 30, 2010
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • New developments this year are aimed at more of a "magazine" style layout of information gleaned from information streams- there is the Flipboard iPad app (http://www.flipboard,com/) for generating a magazine style view of stories published from its selected sources as well as from an individual's twitter and facebook networks. This looks for URLs embedded in social streams and extracts images and content form the source sites. Another variant is http://paper.li which organizes the content shared in a person's twitter network - it even organizes the content from URLs shared in one's twitter network into "departments" like Politics, Education, Sports. - alan alan Aug 23, 2010
  • It will be interesting to see what impact Google's real time search has on RSS feeds.- garry.putland garry.putland Aug 31, 2010~

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • If aggregators can present together a selection of segments from a social bookmarking search eg. of trusted colleagues tagged resources, that would be a great help to any research task, as filtering and sorting information is an ongoing isssue the further dispersed publishing becomes. (Like paper.li crossed with friendfeed? does it already exist?)- jo.murray jo.murray Aug 25, 2010
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?