Joseph Nathan Cohen

Department of Sociology, CUNY Queens College, New York, NY

Hybrid Workshop Google Reader Presentation

This was my first instructional video. It was produced as part of a workshop put on by Queens College’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

To see more about the “Teaching through YouTube” series.  For more, see this post.

Original Video Description

My video presentation for Queens College’s Hybrid Teaching Workshop, Spring 2011

Transcription (Auto-Generated)

Hello, hybrid workshop colleagues. I’m Joe Cohen from the Sociology Department. Today, I’ll present how to use Google Reader for keeping up with the news and engaging students in discussion. We’ll begin by understanding RSS and Google Reader. RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, is a technology that compiles news from websites you select and presents them in one consolidated location. Without RSS, you’d either visit each of your preferred websites, potentially wasting time on sites without new content, or depend on a third-party portal to curate the news for you. This latter method might leave you browsing through content that editors deem important but might not align with your interests. In contrast, RSS lets you dictate the news sources you wish to view, providing a central repository of updates as they’re published. This centralization offers real-time updates on the latest news. To access these RSS feeds, you need an aggregator, and I believe Google Reader is the best out there. When I open Google, my Google Reader displays approximately 369 new articles from my subscribed sites over the past day. These articles originate from diverse sources, like newspapers, journals, and niche topics I’m passionate about, including international affairs, politics, technology, and even baseball. Each article provides a brief overview, and if I’m intrigued, I can delve deeper by clicking on it. There are two notable features beneath each article in Google Reader. The ‘star’ function serves as a bookmark for intriguing articles I might not have time to read immediately, while the ‘share’ feature lets my friends view my recommendations and vice versa. Moreover, this platform facilitates commenting, creating a more interactive experience. Accessing news via Google Reader contrasts significantly with traditional media methods. Before its adoption, I’d skim through the New York Times, my cherished magazines, blogs, and a handful of journals. Now, I receive a more extensive range of articles, typically between 200-300 every weekday. Despite this surge in volume, navigating through the content has become more streamlined, ensuring I read articles tailored to my interests. Now, for those unfamiliar with Google Reader: To start, you need a Gmail or Google account. If you don’t have one, visit and sign up. Once set up, head to to begin adding RSS feeds. Initially, your list will be empty. To populate it, click ‘add a subscription’ and search for a desired feed. Alternatively, you can add feeds directly from websites by clicking the RSS icon or links labeled ‘feeds’, ‘RSS’, or ‘atom’. While all these features sound appealing, you might wonder about its application in the classroom. Google Reader grants students similar benefits as educators. By channeling the web’s most pertinent content into one portal tailored to their interests, students might access it outside academic hours. Moreover, with the proliferation of mobile web, they can even browse on their cell phones. Incorporating Google Reader into your teaching strategy is multi-faceted. First, it’s a medium to communicate with students seamlessly. By creating a class blog on platforms like WordPress or Blogger and having students subscribe to it, you blend educational content with personal interests, making the learning experience more immersive. Posting on these platforms is also more user-friendly than traditional academic portals. Secondly, Google Reader serves as a window into real-world applications of taught concepts. By subscribing to relevant blogs, students can bring pertinent articles to class discussions, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement. Lastly, it bridges the student-teacher gap. On my site, I share academically relevant materials and lighter, more personal content. This exchange allows both parties to perceive each other holistically, fostering rapport and a positive classroom atmosphere. Thank you for your time today. Special thanks to my production assistant, Naomi Cohen. Say thank you. No? OK.