The first time I used a computer with a mouse was as a college student. The first time I ever heard the word “eMail” was also on a university campus. And the first time I ever surfed the web was at the urging of a friend, who just happened to be a teacher.

I’m quite certain that educators are ahead of the rest of society when it comes to discovering new uses for technology, and a school or campus is always the best place to find early adopters. That’s why I tend to take notice when I hear about new computing trends in the education field. And from what I hear, many educators are excited about a new phenomenon known as Really Simple Syndication, or RSS (see our Front Page story).

RSS enables a computer user to monitor multiple web sites and blogs without having to actually visit these online locations. Written in Extensible Markup Language (XML), RSS feeds can be viewed in RSS reader software or on a single web page scripted to pick up any number of feeds. RSS can be viewed by any operating system and is just as easy to monitor on a handheld computer as on a desktop.

In short, RSS saves users the time it takes to check multiple sites for random updates and gives users far more flexibility in locating relevant information. Avid readers of web logs know the value of RSS because it has been part of the blogging community for years, but mainstream internet users are just beginning to see its potential.

I recently had a chance to chat with educators already immersed in the syndication culture. One of the first things they asked me was if eSchool News Online offered an RSS feed. I was pleased to tell them we do. And thanks to this RSS feed, our readers can now keep up with the site even when they aren’t actually on it.

If you’d like to receive our RSS feed, visit the following link for all the necessary details: http://www.eschoolnews.com/exchange/

RSS is just one part of eSchool News’ commitment to a rich online community. For several years, we have offered one of the web’s only message boards dedicated to discussions of educational technology, and we have plans for even more interactivity in the future. Rest assured that eSchool News recognizes the value of a web space in which serious educators can share their thoughts, and we will strive to deliver great community as well as great content.

Speaking of content, we have three recent additions to our popular series of online Educator’s Resource Centers.

The first newcomer is titled “Voice and Data Integration for School Networks.” Made possible with financial support from SBC, this ERC focuses on the growth of another hot online topic–internet telephony. A series of eSchool News articles explore whether or not this emerging technology trend is a good alternative for schools. Check it out at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/integration/

Our second new ERC is titled “Effective Stakeholder Communications,” made possible with the generous support of e-Mail Networks. Here, you’ll find a wealth of information about schools’ use of eMail as a means of staying in touch with a wider community, including parents and the media. You’ll also find strategies for building school web sites and ideas to help you meet the strict reporting demands of the No Child Left Behind Act. Visit this ERC at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/stakeholders/

Rounding out our expanded ERC lineup, we’re pleased that netTrekker has made it possible for us to offer a revised version of “Enhancing Your Curriculum with Web-Enabled Resources.” This ERC is loaded with ideas for using the internet to enhance instruction. You’ll find helpful web sites, as well as information about emerging technologies that could revolutionize the online learning experience. Don’t miss this ERC at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/EnhancingCurriculum/

In addition to these new ERCs, eSchool News Online offers access to some of the best online professional development courses on the web in our Professional Development Resource Center. If you’re one of the many educators who believe strongly in the case method, these case-based courses are an ideal way to expand your knowledge about key subjects such as technology integration and data-driven decision making. There are countless great courses to choose from, and you can find them all at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/erc/professionaldevelopment/

And here’s yet another good reason to visit eSchool News Online: Our unique education-related surveys. Last month, we ran a presidential election poll (stay tuned for results in October), and this month we’re conducting a Readers’ Choice Awards program for reading and language-arts software. Please stop by and cast your ballot, because–like so many others this fall–we’re hoping for a high voter turnout.