Productivity Tools II

 Productivity Tools II

RSS SymbolRSS Feeds

There is some contention to what RSS actually stands for.  Some claim that it stands for Rich Site Summary, while others claim that it stands for Really Simple Syndication. Whatever the true meaning of RSS, it simply is a way to grab constantly changing web content without having to continually visit that particular site. Blogs, video blogs, news organizations all use RSS feeds to offer their content to readers. Most popular websites have the easily identifiable and popular icon (see left) somewhere on their page.  This icon will subscribe you to the RSS Feed address which when used with an RSS Feed Reader, will automatically keep you current to the newest information found on that site.

Here is RSS in a nutshell according to Tech News

RSS Feed Readers

In order to take advantage of RSS Subcriptions you need a program that will not only read them, but alert you when new information is available.  Commonly these programs are free and we have come up with the names and links to some of the ones we find most valuable and easy to use.





Feedly is our recommended choice since it is simple to use and has a handsome interface.  The great news is they have a mobile version for your devices as well. You can download Feedly at 

Here is a quick overview of Feedly


Here are some other RSS Feed Readers: – Fast but not visually appealing, works on multiple platforms. – Made for use with a Mac.

Flipboard – RSS Feed Reader for iPad and Android. Flipboard has the added bonus of providing  you with the option of pulling feeds from other readers into your flipboard.

Important RSS Feeds to get you started.

Regional eLearning Initiatives Blog

Free Tech for Teachers

Atomic Learning

Rapid eLearning Blog

New Apps for Productivity


evernote icon


Evernote, is another free application that will help your productivity in the classroom by providing you with the ability to stay organized by saving any ideas you can think of. This program allows you to capture photos, take notes, create lists, and record voice reminders. Everything you record or create is searchable and can be synced across multiple devices. Evernote can also be accessed through the web, so if you are using a non-Apple product, you can still access all of your notes and information. Another great feature of Evernote is the opportunity to view webpages and save them for later use. This works much like using “favorites” in Google Chrome exceptEvernote takes a snapshot of the actual webpage and can be accessed off-line. Some practical ways that you can use this program in a classroom are by taking snapshots of your lecture notes, whiteboard, or even any text in a book for your later use.

For more information on Evernote click here.

Here is a quick look at evernote…




Kaizena,formerly known as Voice Comments, is an application which allows you to highlight any part of a Google Doc and leave feedback via recording your voice. We have had a few Miami professors who were already using this software say great things about how easy it is to use and how the students have learned to use it to leave comments back to the professors. It is the next generation of feedback tools and students seem to be impressed on how much more personable it allows feedback to become.

You can get Kaizena here.

Here is a little more about Kaizena…



lucidLucidChart is a free application found in the Chrome store that can be used to create graphic organizers, mind maps, concept webs, Venn Diagrams, and other visuals.  It is very close to working like Google Docs, because you can share your visuals with others as view only, as a templates, or allow for collaboration with others. You can create new customized diagrams or can use any of the 50+ templates designed for education. Lucidchart even integrates with Google Docs so you can use it to store diagrams in your Google Drive.

You can get LucidCharts here.

Here is a quick overview of LucidCharts…


Google Keep


Google Keep is the latest experimental application to come from Google.  Google Keep lets you write down quick notes, include photos and record voice messages.  Very similar to Evernote, Google has created an application that allows you to keep organized on the go.  It lets you create and edit notes even when you are offline.  Google Keep is multi-platform and comes in a mobile version for use on your iOS or Android device.



To download Google Keep click here.

Here is a quick overview of Google Keep…


About Dustin Sponsler

Dustin R. Sponsler, M.Ed., is the eLearning Design and Support Specialist for the Miami Regional Campuses. He has earned his Master of Education degree at Ashland University and recently graduated from Rio Salado in Arizona with a degree in eLearning Design. Dustin can be reached by email at