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.

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

  • Web aggregation tools are a crucial part of organizing your own learning and while the tools themselves aren't necessarily difficult to use, they require some serious thinking about what is to be aggregated, how much can be really consumed in this way, and what to do with the information that is collected. While there is obvious relevance here to any teacher or learner, the larger question as with all of these tools is whether or not K-12 learning environments can shift their curriculum and practice around tools that let us access, collect and organize information in more self-directed, global ways. The ways that RSS readers work look little like traditional methods of aggregation of information. - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 8, 2010
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I think there is a whole information literacy piece to this that might be included in the description. Aggregation requires a real editing function on the part of the user, and it also requires a process of dealing with all of the information that is deemed to be relevant. I'm reminded of the NCTE descriptor that literate readers and writers will be able to "Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information" found here: http://www.ncte.org/governance/literacies - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 8, 2010
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Aggregation could have a huge impact on teaching and learning for those who know how to do it well. A teacher's ability to aggregate student work or a student's ability to collect relevant information about a particular topic can be a major shift in the way think about research and monitoring those topics of interest to us. - will.richardson will.richardson Feb 8, 2010
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.