I am working with a group of teachers in the area brainstorming litercay and technology together. Last week we got together for the day and had the opportunity to work on lots of internet projects that I have been wanting to work the kinks out of. For many people in the group blogs and Google accounts were new to them. After our day of working together I told them that I would write on our group blog how to set up several useful tools with their new Google accounts. Below is what I wrote for them, I thought I would share with my dedicated blog followers in case there was something new for them.
Once you catch the blog bug you will start finding a vast number of blogs that you want to follow. There are a vast number of well written and useful technology education blogs that I try to follow on a regular basis (links to follow later).
Now that we all have Google accounts with gmail and blogger access we can use another Google product to help us keep track of our blogs. Google Reader allows you to subscribe to the blogs that you are interested in following and saves you checking all of the blog links for new postings. Whenever there is a new post on one of the blogs that you follow it gets fed into your Google Reader. Basically what Google Reader does is goes out to the blogs you tell it to and checks on a regular basis multiple times a day to see if there are any new posts. It is kind of like an email inbox for the internet. Your email all feeds into one place and you already check that on a regular basis, Google Reader allows many of the websites that you read on the internet be fed into an inbox.
You may have noticed that once you registered for your Google account you could make a new page for yourself called iGoogle. iGoogle is a page that you can customize with everything from news, your gmail, daily comics, games, and Google Reader. Below is a small screen shot of part of my iGoogle page.
Here are the steps that you need to follow in order to set up your iGoogle page.
1) Go to www.google.com
2) In the upper right hand corner click on iGoogle
3) In the new screen click on Sign In in the upper right hand corner
3) The next screen will ask you for your username and password
Now you are at your own iGoogle page which you can personalize. In order to personalize this page click on the "Add Stuff" link. On the next page you will be able to select different mini applications, or gadgets that you might find useful or fun. In order to add any gadget to your reader simply click on the "Add It Now" link below the gadget. This page is where you can find the Google Reader gadget by searching for "Google Reader".
Once you have the Google Reader gadget and all the other gadgets that you are interested in having on your iGoogle page click on "Back to iGoogle home" in the upper left hand corner. You will notice now that you iGoogle page has a new look. Congratulations, you now have set up your own personalized iGoogle page! If you like it, you may want to change your internet homepage to it.
Ok, so you have a google account, you have a personalized iGoogle page, and Google Reader can be found on your iGoogle page. Now it is time to add blogs to your Google Reader. Start by visiting www.google.com/reader Right now your Google Reader is empty, in order to add subscriptions, or blogs that you want to follow, click on "Add Subscription" in the left hand column. In the new box that pops up paste the link that you want to follow, for instance you might want to add http://sjbeat.blogspot.com
Last part of the Google Reader lesson, RSS Feeds. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Many websites that update themselves on a regular basis have an RSS feed. Like Google Reader, an RSS feed saves you the time of checking the website for updates and can feed it into your Google Reader. The image to the left is the universal RSS feed logo. Whenever you see this image on a website it means that you can feed the updates into your Google Reader. When you find a website that you like and it has the RSS logo click on it. On the next page you can choose to either feed the RSS updates to your iGoogle page or your Google Reader, the choice is yours.
If you have any questions, or my directions weren't clear enough, please post a comment and I will try to help you through the process.