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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Adding RSS Feeds to Your Angel 7.x Course

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Would you like to include current thoughts and works of industry professionals into your course? Does your course refer to or rely upon current events? Are you wrestling with ways to include additional guest speakers in online course that cross time zones? One way to address these issues is through the use of RSS feeds.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” Most major news sources, professional journals, broadcasting stations, education journals; and, many faculty, institutions and corporations offer RSS feeds from their websites.

Linking to RSS feeds within your Angel course space can provide multimedia content on a topic pertinent to your course, and allow students get up-to-the-minute content without the confusion of leaving the course space or opening a new browser window.

Unit Objectives

This tutorial will provide:

  • A limited list of feed listing services and search engines
  • Step-by-step directions for generating the Javascript required for adding RSS feeds to Angel course and Community Groups

Finding and Posting Feeds

Thanks to a simple tool available on the internet RSS feeds can be incorporated into Angel courses in 4 easy steps.

  1. Locate the RSS feed
  2. Format the content for your course or resource pool
  3. Preview and Generate the Javascript (using a utility)
  4. Copy and Paste the Javascript into one of your course content folders, or into the Course News or Resources components.

Step 1: Finding Relevant Feeds

Virtually all major news outlets feature RSS feeds feed icon on their websites — although some “bury” them within paragraphs or toward the bottom of the page in small print. Examples include the Washington Post, NY Times, NPR, BBC, Associated Press, and The Economist.

Other sites that typically have RSS feeds include major associations and professional journals. Examples include Science Magazine, New Scientist, Chronicle of Higher Education, Crooked Timber.

If you are not sure which website will provide the information that you are seeking, you may want to explore search engines like:

  • Blinkx provides links to news and entertainment podcasts
  • Daypop News, blogs, and RSS feeds (powered by News Is Free).
  • Feedster Basic search engine for RSS feeds
  • BlogDigger Basic search engine for RSS feeds
  • Podscope – searches spoken words for audio and video of interest
  • Podzinger – audio and video search engine

Or, look at RSS feed listings service like:

A number of search engines and listing services noted above allow you to view their search results in RSS format, enabling you to monitor topics of interest.

For this tutorial we will assume that a faculty member wants to include interview podcasts from “Science Magazine” in their course lecture materials.

A. Open a browser window and navigate to

science mag header

B. Click on the Multimedia tab. The “ Science Multimedia Center” page will be displayed.

science podcast links

C. Click on the More podcasts link listed under the SCIENCE PODCAST header. The Science Podcast page will be displayed.

podcast feed link

D. Click on the podcast feed link located in the middle of the first paragraph. A popup window will be displayed.

podcast link popup

E. Copy the url displayed in the popup window (highlight the url with the cursor then press the ctrl+C keys to copy).

F. Close the popup window and move to the next step.

Step 2: Format the Content

A. Point your browser to the Feed to JavaScript Generator located at


B. Paste the url copied in Step 1 into the URL field.

C. Select whether to show information about the originator of the feed (show info, show just the title, or show no info)

D. You can use the Number of Items to Display field to indicate how many you want visible on your page. If you enter zero (0), all items are shown. If you enter a number greater than 0, only the latest items up to the number entered will be displayed on the course site.

E. Enter 0, 1, or n>1 (n= the number of description characters to be displayed for each item in course). I suggest that 1 be entered in this field.

F. Indicate whether to show the posting date of the item (default is no). I suggest that this be set to Yes so that the viewer knows when the content was posted to the web.

G. Denote if a new browser window should be opened when the viewer clicks on one of the resource links.

Step 3: Preview and Generate the Javascript

A. Click on the [Preview] button located at the bottom of the Feed2JS form.

B. If the feed looks correct, click on the [ Generate JavaScript] button. The cut and past Javascript page will be displayed.

copy code

C. Copy the JavaScript from the box on this page. (Highlight all of the information located in the box and then press the Ctrl+C keys to copy the data.)

D. Move on to step 4. (If you are not going to add this information to your course immediately paste the information into a Notepad document and save the document to local computer.)

Step 4: Copy and Paste the Javascript into the Course

A. Log into the Angel and navigate to your course.

B. Add the content to a course page or Section News component.

  • Adding RSS feed to a Course Page
  • Click on the folder that will contain the feed
  • Next, click on the Add Content link
  • Then, click on the Page creation link
  • Enter a title for the resource in the Title field
  • Enter instructions for what the viewer should do with this material in the Subtitle field
  • Paste the Javascript copied in the previous step in the Page Text box. (Click in the box then press the Ctrl+V keys.)
  • Press the [Save] button.

  • Adding RSS feed to Section News
  • Click on the Resources tab.
  • Click on the Edit Page link. (If you already have a Section News component in your course, skip to item 7 in this list.)

  • Under the Available Components section select “Section News”
  • Click on the drop-down arrow in the Location field and select the column that you want the resource to appear in.
  • Then click the [Add Component>>] button.
  • Next click the [Save] button. The Resources page will be displayed.

  • Click on the [edit] button located on the right-hand-side of the Course News header. The News Editor screen will be displayed.
  • Click the Add Article link. The News Settings page will be displayed.

  • Post some narrative about the feed in the Headline field.
  • Paste the Javascript copied in the previous step in the Story box. (Click in the box then press the Ctrl+V keys.)
  • Complete the other fields on the page as needed.
  • Click the [Save] button. The News Editor page will be displayed.
  • Click the [Exit News Editor] button to return to the Resources page.

I hope that some of you find this tutorial useful.

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2006 by in Angel, Tools, Tutorials.
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