How Nurse Educators Can Navigate the “Web” to Find Information on Social Media Sites.

By: Jone Tiffany

As a member of the group #nursewhotweet, I often am asked where I go on the “web” to find information about nursing education and health care. That question always causes me to pause and reflect. Sometimes I can answer the question, but often I have to answer, “I don’t know, I just find it.” I know that answer is not very helpful, so hopefully this blog will provide some answers that will help you navigate the web successfully.

Understanding and Using RSS Feeds

It is important to understand the meaning of the acronym RSS, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is found on various websites. RSS is a type of web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format. It is a way to easily distribute lists of headlines, update notices, and sometimes content to a wide number of people. RSS feeds are used by computer programs that organize those headlines and notices for easy reading. These feeds can, for example, allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator, making it quick to peruse many websites in minutes. The sites that utilize RSS are helpful as one navigates the web looking for news and information.

Prior to writing this blog, I compared notes with several nurse educators who share information on various social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Here are some of the applications (apps) and sites that we use. I think you will find these to be most helpful. 

One of my favorite apps, Flipboard, is software that was first released in 2010. Flipboard is a mobile RSS reader that is designed to change the way we interact with RSS feeds. It aggregates content from social media, news feeds, photo-sharing sites, and other websites and organizes all your feeds by topics into magazines. These allow users to “flip” through articles, images, and videos. One can easily share information with others by clicking on the various social media buttons embedded in each article. Unlike other RSS feeds, Flipboard does not host the full content. Instead, you will need to click to the actual site to read the article. This app is not perfect, but I have found it to be helpful for quick perusal of those topics that are trending in health care, education, and health.

Another app I frequently use, called Inoreader, is a great place to start for those new to the RSS world because it has a mode called discovery. This feature helps find information, ideas, or topics that are trending based on your interests. The app contains folders and tags that will allow you to keep content sorted and easy to find later. However, a downside is that there is no option to make subfolders. People like Inoreader for its ability to permanently store information, in contrast to other platforms that delete stored information after a short time. Just like Flipboard, this app makes it easy to share content on various social media platforms.

A few other apps used by some #nurseswhotweet include:

  • Digg Reader, a free online RSS reader with a clean user interface that makes it easy to read and manage information.
  • Feedly, anotherfree app that provides the user with a streamlined interface. The Feedly platform gives users a scrollable view where there is a display of article headlines and previews – ad free. Users can select and read articles by simply tapping on an article headline. This app enables the reader to save feeds with a long tap while a long swipe allows you to get an overview of all articles and mark them as read. Like other apps, Feedly offers quick sharing of information to other social media platforms.
  • Feedreader Online, Comma Feed, Flow Reader, Feedspot, Pocket, and Slack are all RSS aggregators used to read and organize news and updates from favorite websites in one place.

Miscellaneous Tips

It can be frustrating to go to a website, or send students to a website, and find out that the link is broken. Here is a quick way to check to see if the link is down for everyone or if you have a problem with your computer or network. The site, called Down for Everyone or Just Me? will tell you if a website you are trying to visit is down or not. Go to Down for Everyone or Just Me? and enter the name of a site into the search tool. You will receive a yes or no answer.

I continue to look for comprehensive articles that cover the use of the web and social media, especially for the purposes of health care and nursing education. Here is a recent article that covers these topics well.

Lastly, one of the best ways to find solid, evidence-based information is by following reputable people and sites on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can follow specific people, professional organizations, and/or publishing companies, to name a few, to get the latest up-to-date information about a topic. You can search for topics, people, or organizations on these sites, “follow” them, and the information they post will show up in your various social media feeds.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @jone_tiffany. Happy searching.

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