RSS Overview:

What is RSS?

RSS has several meanings: Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and RDF Site Summary where RDF in turn stands for Resource Data Framework.  In any case it is a method of summarizing the latest news and information from a website in a lightweight form that can be easily read by any of a number of news readers or news aggregators.  The idea is to give users the ability to quickly obtain the latest news and updates from a site in a headline or news digest format.  This in turn helps during high-traffic periods by reducing the load on the servers.

What do I need to use the RSS feeds?

To use RSS feeds you need a feed reader or news aggregator installed on your computer.  These are applications that can be set to read the feeds on a recurring basis, generally once an hour or so.  Note that the most recent versions of popular web browsers and email programs (MUAs) include this functionality, either directly or as an available add-on (or plug-in).

Here is a list of feed readers and news aggregators from the Open Directory Project.  Here is another list of feed readers and news aggregators from

You can use as a free RSS reader.  Personally I prefer to use Mozilla Thunderbird and have new notices show up as emails.

Once you have installed a feed reader or news aggregator, you simply add the RSS feed addresses to the list of feeds in the reader.  The installation instructions for the readers will help you with that.  If your newsreader or aggregator uses "auto-discovery" then simply enter the web page of interest and any available feeds will be found automatically.  (Modern web browser software will show a small icon that you can click on to add the RSS feeds.  Netscape (and Mozilla) refer to such feeds as live bookmarks.

What are the feed addresses?

This site currently contains a number of RSS feeds (all in English), One on the main page and one on each course's syllabus page.

Here are the addresses: XML logoRSS logo   (English): Main website feed.  [other feed to be listed here.]

You can click on the links to view the RSS feeds in your browser, but you will need a feed reader or news aggregator to process the information automatically (to see new updates as they appear).

What version of RSS do you use?

At the present time the feeds use the RSS 2.0 specification.  The feeds give a brief statement about what has changed, and a link to the new/updated web page.

Why is the XML logo on the page?

The XML logo and the RSS logo are both currently in use across the Internet to indicate to users the availability of RSS feeds from the site.  XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, and is the basic lingo of the RSS technology.  I decided to display both logos, for no particular reason.

Much of this overview was stolen adapted from The NOAA National Hurricane Center and their About RSS page.