E-mail Alerts and RSS Feeds for Distance Learning Administrators


email. distance learning, administrators, developments


A distance learning administrator’s need for an executive survey of breaking developments is not unique—especially when so much information is now available. One author used the following comparison to describe the information age in which distance learning administrators now live and work: “A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England” (Wurman, 1989, p. 32). This same author also stated, now almost 20 years ago, that “more new information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000 . . . and the total of all printed knowledge doubles every eight years” (Wurman, 1989, p. 35). It is no wonder that “seven out of 10 office workers in the United States feel overwhelmed by information in the workplace, and more than two in five say they are headed for a data ‘breaking point,’ according to a recently released Workplace Productivity Survey, . . .” (Tahmincioglu, 2008). Some distance education administrators fear that they might not be keeping up with critical developments in their field because there is just too much information to sort through; or that they are not receiving the best information available; or they just don’t have enough time to get through it all, so why try. One author captured this current-day information overload with these words:

Can we really expect to keep up with everything that’s new and interesting? Once upon a time, we probably could, but the pace and breadth of innovation and development are now dauntingly swift and there are good reasons to be judicious . . . in what we choose to follow. . . . But neither can we afford to let important ideas pass us by” (Janes, 2008, p. 33).

Two tools that help “push” information to users in small, digestible chunks are e-mail Alerts and RSS feeds. Both of these tools deliver customized information for distance learning administrators to quickly survey the day’s (or week’s or month’s) literature, research, and news. The purpose of this article is to introduce these tools to busy distance learning administrators most in need of efficient ways to stay current in their field; it may also help those already using these tools to validate their own choice of alerts or feeds on distance education information against those identified and screened by the authors.

Original Publication Citation

Washburn, A. & Howell, S. (Summer, 2008). E-mail alertsand RSS feeds for distance learningadministrators. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 11(2). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer112/washburn112.html.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration




David O. McKay School of Education


Instructional Psychology and Technology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor