Thing 21 (Week 9) - Create a Custom Start Page Using Pageflakes


ATTENTION SUMMER 2010 PARTICIPANTS: For the time being, this Thing is optional! A few months ago, Pageflakes started placing mandatory ads on the teacher/student edition, so I cannot unequivocally recommend classroom use. It's a real disappointment, because custom start pages have tremendous value as student learning portals. I have looked into alternatives, namely Protopage (examples) and Netvibes. Currently, Protopage has banner ads that you can click to close. Netvibes currently has no ads, but I fear that will change... check this stuff out if you are interested, but, again, it's not required.... sorry!

Introduction


image by nebarnix
image by nebarnix
Yet another "theme" of Web 2.0 is user customization. Pageflakes is a "custom start page" application that allows users to customize web content by adding and organizing any number of links, RSS feeds, podcasts, search tools, and useful embeddable objects (also known as widgets, gadgets, and, in this instance "flakes"), such as calendars, notepads, to-do lists, videos and calculators, each in its own container (uh, "flake"). Each "flake" can be dragged and dropped around the page for ultimate customization. Thus, unlike a "typical" RSS reader or podcatcher, Pageflakes stores each feed or subscription inside its own customized container on the page, then allows the user to mix in all sorts of other goodies.

There are a number of custom start page options, such as Netvibes, Protopage that offer similar features. You may want to check out these other flavors after playing with Pageflakes. One of the most powerful features of Pageflakes is that the pages are publishable/shareable with students, parents and colleagues. These "Pagecasts" can be customized to support specific topics and themes.



¤ NOTE: Please use Pageflakes Teacher Edition (http://teacher.pageflakes.com) for this activity. It has the identical function of regular Pageflakes but removes the "Random Pagecast" link from your page if you decide to make it public for your students to use. (This will make more sense after you have worked with Pageflakes). Thus, when you hear me say in a video "Go to pageflakes.com," you will instead go to http://teacher.pageflakes.com. The Teacher Edition still forces a "Sponsored Content" flake onto the upper right area of your page, but it does at least stick to "appropriate" ads. Right now, Protopage has banner ads you can close. Netvibes

Discovery Exercise


PART 1: Get to know Pageflakes (~20 minutes)

This "Thing" was inspired by a post from Weblogg-ed: Using Pageflakes as a Student Portal (Please read it).

Check out a few sample education-themed Pagecasts. Spend a couple minutes looking at each of the Pagecasts below. Each demonstrates some of the potentially valuable "flakes" one can assemble and customize to support classroom learning. (Most of these were not created under the Teacher Edition, so you will see a wider selection of irksome ads. But the content is still worth a look -- I am frustrated by the ads, so I am ).


Consider some potential uses for Pageflakes (or Protopage or Netvibes) in education:

  • Share links for research, skill practice or topics of study.
  • Post homework, class assignments, reminders.
  • Custom research/reference portal.
  • Share current events or topical items via RSS feeds from news sources or blogs
  • Class Calendar
  • Post links to class documents
  • Have a group discussion
  • Post instructional videos or podcasts
  • Post class pictures or photo albums
  • Post a picture feed from a specific topic or theme

PART 2: Get started Using Pageflakes (~30-45 minutes)

Sign up for Pageflakes Teacher Edition. If desired (seriously, it's optional), add the K12 Learning 2.0 Template to your account and customize your page(s). Practice adding and editing flakes, feeds and podcasts. Drag and drop each flake to customize your page. Click Edit to edit the settings for a flake. As you explore, consider ways you might use Pageflakes to support classroom learning or your professional practice. Feel free to create as many pages as you want and to edit and explore all you want!

‡ HELP Video: Sign up for Pageflakes TEACHER EDITION and add the OPTIONAL K12 Learning 2.0 Page Template (3:00)
ONCE AGAIN - when following these instructions, please go to http://teacher.pageflakes.com to sign up.

‡ HELP Video: Working in Pageflakes (5:00)
How to: Add Flakes, RSS Feeds and Podcasts; Edit Flakes; Customize your Page

‡ HELP Instructions: Quickstart for explorers, video haters and impatient people...

  • Go to Pageflakes Teacher Edition: http://teacher.pageflakes.com You will see a default page with some basic flakes.
  • Click Sign Up (at the top of the page). Enter your name, email and password. You will be returned to your default page.
  • (OPTIONAL) Add the "K12 Learning 2.0 Template" to your account - Log into Pageflakes, then, in a new browser window, go here: Template
    • While viewing the K12 Learning 2.0 Template, click View Pagecast, then click Copy to copy the page into your own account for editing.
    • The K12 Learning 2.0 Template contains a "sticky note" with instructions and helpful hints.
  • Practice adding and editing flakes, feeds and podcasts. Drag and drop each flake to customize your page. Click Edit to edit the settings for a flake.

Visual guide to adding flakes, feeds and podcasts:

pageflakes_get.png

pageflakes_add.png

Add any RSS or Podcast feed to Pageflakes
One of the best ways to get the most from Pageflakes is by adding outside blog, news and podcast feeds!

pageflakes_addfeed.png





Task

Write a blog post reflecting on your Pageflakes experience. Include any ideas you have for using such a tool to support classroom learning or professional practice. What are some topics or themes you might explore in a Pageflakes environment? Please include "Thing 21" in your post title.