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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Reflections on PageFlakes


Our school is definitely a Google school. We have switched over to Apps and love teaching and learning using all the  Google Web Apps that come with our school accounts, as well as with a regular GMail account. Although we have a preference for and utilise everything Google,(within reason) as it applies to educational practice, we recently made the decision to switch from teaching  iGoogle this year to PageFlakes . Several things were considered when making the decision, but three areas in particular really swayed the balance:

  1. The Anything Flake allows you to put just about anything on your page, including important links, pictures, text and gadgets and widgets from other sites.

  2. PageFlakes provides a greater level of freedom in designing pages, not only can students choose from different predetermined themes and page designs, and alter colour schemes,  they can also easily create their own themes and page designs by using their own imagery.

  3. RSS Feeds can be added to any  page, so they can be organised by topics, or placed on a page of their own.

We have taught the kids how to search out feeds and place them on their pages. They are able to add flakes as well as widgets and gadets from other sites, using the Anything Flake, and have created pages for their main subject areas as well as hobbies and interests. They love being able to customise their pages-this is a real hook! The next step will be teaching them how to share their pages and create page casts. The real power here is in the creating of a set of pages from which they can readily access all their accounts, links, and tools.

Our next big PageFlakes project will be to use pages as pathfinders for projects that not only include  links and feeds, but also photo galleries, text, audio and more.

Wouldn't it be great to also have the kids collaborate on group pages on given subjects, compiling banks of related resources that they have come come across or created in the course of their work?

It's the mark of a great application, when not only is it extremely useful, but also very difficult t0 get the kids away from it at the end of a lesson!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Live Binders

This evening Live Binders started following me on Twitter, so I checked them out. Binders are social bookmarking tools that work in a similar way to SimplyBox, but using a binder metaphor and can house pdfs, images, and more as well as links.


One very exciting feature of Live Binders is that they can be embedded on websites etc. Nowyou can have binders of info tucked away as cute little icons on your site. Plenty of potential here.

Main site

digital story telling tools binder

Making Connections via Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and

I came across a great blog post by Jeff Utecht this morning on Twitter entitled A Blog Post, a Tweet a Connection. I found it very inspiring and  is definitely worth a read.

In this post Jeff describes how easy it is to connect up educators and students from all over by simply  using teacher social network connections. The experience he describes is very powerful. Most of us are connected to other educators, via Twitter, blogs, FaceBook, Nings, and more, its just finding ways to make them work for us.
Jeff summarised the content of his post as follows:

"I believe this story shows the power of:1. What can happen when we allow students to be “out there”.
2. What happens when our teachers become networked and can bring that network to their students.
3. That through connections educational possibilities are endless.

Picture 1

On a different note, most of us are pretty fond of our ClusterMaps. It's nice to know whose reading and amazing to see where in the world the readers are located. Well after reading Jeff's post I glanced over at the sidebar and found a whos. map. It's great! Not only does it show the locations of visitors to the blog, but also displays in real time the locations from where it is being read.

While I was reading the post described above, the  El Salvador dot was flashing as wall as another in the states. Two of us in different parts of the world were reading the post at the same time. Upon clicking on the map, more details were available such as how many people were viewing which posts at the time as well as a graph of the last 24 hours of traffic the blog received. Definitely worth following up on!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Picture 6Are you on the lookout for a presentation application that is just a bit different? If so you may want to check out Prezi.

Prezi allows users to create interactive presentations which can include media and links(although you can't place links on media yet), as well as share/collaborate on the presentations with others. A really great feature is the download option,  which allows you to run presentations from the computer and avoid any potenial internet glitches, links not withstanding. Media, text, basically anything in the presentation can be designated as a stop on a predetermined path, and each stopping point zooms in as one arrives at it. This is a great little app. especially for those of use who prefer not to think in a linear fashion straight off, allowing one to plunk down ideas, links and media, later grouping them appropriately, as the ideas develop. Consider  the possibilities for brainstorming presentations in small groups! I am definitely going to trial this in one of my teaching groups this year, who have got to be in PowerPoint overload by now!

Note: Three main areas that the Prezi  people could develop further  are the ability to embed and/or upload presentations, as well as allowing users to link off of objects rather than pasting urls into presentations.

Here is a link to the my first Prezi, which I created as a follow-up for to BLC.

A Comparison of Social Networks

I came across this comparison by the Centre for Performance Technologies this evening and it is worth looking at. It is a comparison of Facebook, Ning and Elg, which might make you rethink your Ning useage a bit. I still love my ICT Ning and have plenty of plans for its growth in this, its second year of life. I also enjoy the the fact that my Ning accounts all link up with one another. Looking at Elgg however, there appear to be quite a few advantages to it in comparison with Ning. One thing in particular that makes it a attractive  is the lack of a 13 or over rule. Certainly for educational institutions this shouldn't be necessary anyway.