blog: Email Alerts

By CaitdCaitd (1224269591|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

What are Email Alerts?

Email alerts are a lot like RSS feeds. They provide a method for busy students to do research more time effectively and efficiently. They provide another method to make the internet work for the student. They provide messages to student's emails to alert the student when there is a change in either search results or a website instead of having RSS feeds alert sent to an RSS aggregator such as Bloglines

Why use Email Alerts?

Email Alert services monitor the entire page. Email Alert services do not have false positives unlike RSS feeds. Also, there is a convenience factor that Email Alert services provide. More and more busy students are buying phones with internet capabilities such as Blackberry phones or the iPhone. Busy students with these phones (lucky students!) can check their email and receive notice that the sites that they are monitoring have been updated.

Why use Email Alerts instead of RSS Feeds?

Well, busy students may ask, if I already have a Bloglines account why do I need an email alert service? What if I don’t have a phone with internet capabilities? Some sites that students want to monitor do not have RSS feeds. Some information that students may want to access and monitor for changes are not site based. What is a student to do? There are search based email alerts that can help students track such information.

Email Alert Services:


What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to users when there are new Google results for the user's search terms. Google currently offers six types of alerts:

  • News: This type of alert is an email message informing the user of the latest news articles that pertain to your search query. The search results that you are alerted to are the ones that appear in the top ten and appear in your and appear in the top ten results of your Google News search. This will help the user only receive updates about changes that are most relevant to the search query.
  • Web:This type of alert is an email alert telling the user that tell the user of changes in the search results pertaining to the user's search query. Google Alerts only include the top 20 search results. This should help limit the amount of updates the users receives to only the most relevant search result changes. We saw from our earlier exercise that not even all of the top 20 results from Google were relevant.
  • Comprehensive: This type of alert is most useful for busy students. It combines latest results from multiple sources including News, Web, and Blogs into a single email update. This eliminates the need to check multiple emails. Students can keep track of their research from multiple sources in just one email!
  • Video: Students that enjoy using video content in their research can also use Google Alerts. Google Alerts provides updates on changes of the top ten results of the user's video search result.
  • Groups:Are you a user of Google Groups? Well, if you are, Google Alerts can track the changes in different Google Groups! It tracks the changes in posts that match your search queries within the first fifty search results.

These different types of Google Alerts offer students the chance to monitor many different types of news sources. This can provide a broader depth of research which will increase the quality of busy student's reports. Currently, I receive email alerts using Google's Comprehensive alerts which helps me keep track of blog entries as well as more traditional new sources. This is particularly helpful for my project as traditional news sources do not always have as strong of coverage on world events and blogs often help provide a more well rounded depiction of current NPO and NGO activities in Africa.

One common misconception students have about using email alerts I have found is that students think email alerts will flood their inboxes. When using Google Alerts, the user is sent an email telling them about changes as often as Google Alerts checks for changes. The key here is that the user sets the frequency with which Google Alerts checks. If you want to know about changes as they happen, you can set it to send you alerts as changes occur. If you only want to check once a day, you can tell Google Alerts to only check once a day.

To sum it all up, Email Alerts are another tool to help people do research more efficiently. It provides an alternative for sites that do not have RSS feeds. I would recommend this tool to any student that needs to do research and I would especially recommend using Google Alerts Comprehensive feature for the student that needs to montior data from multiple sources. Also, many students already have Google Accounts so using Google Alerts is really easy! There is no need to sign up for another service again!

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