Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Personal Start Pages

pageflakes - teacher edition

Welcome to personal start pages for LwC! Over the next few weeks, we'll be exploring personal start or home pages, especially Pageflakes. With Pageflakes and similar online tools, you'll be able to create your own personal start page, bringing everything that you are interested in to one place! This makes it easy to see when your favorite blogs and sites have been updated, what your friends are saying on Twitter, or even what the weather is like! In order to get started, we'll review the very basics of RSS and then we'll get started creating our own personal, class, and professional pages using Pageflakes. As you'll see, you can easily customize your Pageflake to suit your interests and needs. Finally, in addition to Pageflakes, try out alternate tools, such as Netvibes and iGoogle, or even Protopage.


Week One Tasks: Personal Start Page Basics

1. Watch Nik Peachey's training video and/or read his post about start pages
2. Check out options for creating your personal start or home page, including Pageflakes, Netvibes, iGoogle, Protopage;
3. LwC members who already have a Pageflakes or start page, please share your URL with the group, so others can peruse sample pages from LwCers who already using them
Optional: If you need more information about RSS, please see Common Craft RSS in Plain English video

Questions: Please post a comment here on our LwC Blog.
How would RSS be useful for educators?
What is a Start or Home Page and how would it help you?
What are your initial impressions of Pageflakes?
Which option for creating your homepage will you try and why?
Other comments or questions?

18 comments:

Maryanne said...

I'm hopin that this is where we should answer the questions posed by the moderators. If not, please let me know.
How would RSS be useful for educators?
Will Richardson calls rss "the new killer app for educators" in his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web tools for Classrooms. I've found that even with rss to allow me to quickly view snippets of blogs of professional interest, I'm still short on time! What on earth would I do without it! Although microblogs like Twitter and Plurk are also useful, sometimes it's good to hear more from the author of a post. I particularly love Nik Peachey's take on tools: What I Liked about It and What I Didn't.

What is a start page and how would it help you?
I now use iGoogle and it has saved me a lot of time. I particularly like the rss feeds for blogs. I prefer having the feeds on my homepage instead of Bloglines because that means one less site I have to visit. The only thing I prefer about Bloglines is that it produces a URL that I can share with anyone. Does anyone know if iGoogle or Pageflakes has that option?

What are your initial impressions of Pageflakes?
I'd like to see how having multiple pages works.

Questions
Which flake do I add to get rss feeds? Can I import my feeds from Bloglines or iGoogle?
How do I find the URL for my PageFlakes page. When I log in, it still just has the generic Pageflakes URL.

Looking forward to learning and sharing.

Maryanne

pab said...

Hi, everyone!

I'm cross-posting part of a comment that is in limbo on Nik Peachey's blog (awaiting moderator's approval), on the post Mary pointed out (Peachey, Creating a personal homepage, 2008.07.01), along with Nik's Camtasia video entitled Keeping Up to Date (no date?).

I'd like to make two suggestions: the first a minute point on form, which often catches the eyes of language teachers, and the second about another web app., Flock, which you may have touched upon elsewhere already.

First, ...[micro feedback removed (PB)]. I'm looking forward to taking a look at your Netvibes tasks (How to create a personal homepage, no date [PDF, 1.3 Mb]), because I've never tried Netvibes, and will need a learner-friendly guide for whatever RSS reader I ask students to use.

Second, I feel that Flock, an extended utility web browser, deserves attention as an easy to set up and use RSS reader, too. Though I currently use Flock version 1.2.6, which is available in 15 supported localizations (Linux, Mac, and Windows versions), English version 2.0 for Mac is available already (it just finished downloading). What Flock may lack in widgetry that both Netvibes and Pageflakes setups seem to offer (to-do lists, for example), it more than compensates [for] by unifying browsing, RSS reading, webmail, and blogging functionality.

That is for individual educators trying to keep up on the web. Personal page sharing, publication, communication via, and collaboration upon Pageflakes, and perhaps Netvibes, too, is another story....

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Pab

Thanks for the very detailed posting. I haven't tried Flock, but I may download it and give it a try.

One of the things that has put me off trying it, is that it involves using and downloading a new browser (when I'm very happy using Firefox 3 and Safari) and both the browsers that I have now do a similar thing with RSS to Flock.

One of the big advantages of services like Netvibes and Pageflakes is that they are independent of any browser and being web based I can access them from anywhere on any browser. If you work from lots of different computers, this is a huge advantage.

I think another point that can be drawn from your posting (and mine) is that once you start using one service or another, it becomes quite difficult to change and involves quite a bit of work and changing of habits, so it's well worth trying to get your first choice right (of course there is always something new and better being developed for next year!!)

Thanks again for you comments.

Best

Nik Peachey

Mary H said...

Hi Maryanne,

Thanks for posting your comments! Nik Peachey's resources are so useful and interesting; it is great he can join us during this session.

To answer your question, Pageflakes has the option to share your pages with other people. All you have to do is click on the large purple button in the right-hand corner, then on "make pagecast." After you do that, you should see a "pagecast URL" for that specific page.

If you create multiple pages, you can choose to keep some pages private and to make others public. This is really convenient!

Also, we'll continue talking about setting up your start page and adding feeds in week two. It will be great to hear everyone's ideas!

Mary

Bobby said...

I read about a site on John Chow's blog today called http://www.43marks.com - its like Pageflakes amd iGoogle but better cuz you can add you all your bookmarks and the bookmarks can be websites not just gadgets and RSS feeds although you can upload your favorite RSS feeds too. Its free and totally customizable re-arranging categories and bookmarks in anyway you want. I really do like 43marks much better

pab said...

You're welcome, Nik; likewise to you for your reply here.

Like you, I am quite happy browsing with Firefox 3 and Safari 3, more so with Firefox recently, thanks to Foxmarks synchronization, which replicates my localized bookmarks toolbar when I login from various machines. That serves much the same purpose as personal start-up pages out on the web. I guess it was luck of the draw that prompted me to set up Flock for RSS browsing.

You're right about the considerable difficulty of changing over smoothly from one RSS aggregator to the next. I guess I've tried Protopage, Technorati, Yahoo!, Google Reader, and Pageflakes, roughly in that order. For example, Technorati would combine feeds before Google Reader had folder hierarchies, as I recall, so I've switched some groups of feeds from Google, to Technorati, and back again. Though A Yahoo! start page interfaces smoothly with Yahoo! Groups, and provides plenty of depth through additional pages, I'm still not sure whether it marks Yahoo! Group posts as read accurately back on the group websites, which is something stand alone browsers never seemed to do (with browser- and machine-specific cookies?). Though Protopage was over my head when I first tried it a couple years ago, Pageflakes turned out to be just my speed when the Blogging for Educators team introduced it during a TESOL Electronic Village Online workshop last January/February (2008).

Since then I've used Pageflakes for proto-wiki content collections, and quick-and-dirty springboards for class start-up tasks. I've just set up a new page for a blended course I'm teaching, with ready-made feeds from all class members' Edublogs, instead of wrestling generally less than computer-savvy English-as-an-additional language students through setting up Google Readers of their own, and building an OPML file for them to import (something still a bit too technical for me to accomplish in the near term).

The flow-to-fit affordances of Pagecasts generally suit my browser window size preferences. So, as often as not recently, I may leave a Pageflakes tab open in my browsers at work, if not at home, among other tabs on multiple browsers that I use regularly.

Yet I really haven't found enough readily accessible real-estate on a single Pageflakes page (without what I deem excessive clicking or scrolling) to make it into a regular personal start page that would supersede a bookmark-toolbar web-sync'd browser like Firefox (set to reopen with previously opened pages in tabs), or an RSS reader and blogging toolkit like Flock. I also have found it impossible to control the order of Pageflakes page tabs comprising a variety of private, public, and shared pages. Any suggestions?

Cheers, Paul

pab said...

Here's a link to the Blogging for Educators pagecasts that inspired me to start using Pageflakes:

http://www.pageflakes.com/Blogging4Educators

pab said...

Seasons greetings to everyone (for winter holidays in the northern hemisphere)!

I've been following this thread, and suspect the two previous comments are spam:

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous sony said...

and

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Yuwono said...

I recommend not opening the links in those comments. If comment time stamps displayed dates (in comment view), we might have a better fix on when who might be spamming this blog.

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Man, I could really use this program. I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

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Sargunan said...

I what way do RSS help us? Im into computer technologies but i know very little only.

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Slide said...

For me the start page is a wonderful thing, it lets me keep all thing in one place and comes very handy

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Jacqui said...

Good, practicial information here, Maryanne. I'll share it with my readers at askatechteacher.wordpress.com.