Some people call them "Webtops," others "start pages" and still more "personal homepages." The latter is what Google called its until last week when it officially launched "iGoogle ."
Let's begin with a (very) little Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo jargon: RSS, AJAX and Y-O-U.
Most know RSS as "Really Simple Syndication" and fellow Infinite Thinking Machine blogger Mark Wagner has written a great intro on the subject of RSS. Suffice it to say that RSS feeds the latest content from news sources and blogs directly to you. Many of us use Bloglines as a feedreader but this requires a separate browser window with log-in. Wouldn't it be cool if you could simply surf your RSS feeds right from the place you do most of your online work? Hold that thought until we chat about...
No, this isn't some Web 2 nomenclature, it's "you!" What iGoogle and its many brethren do is combine RSS feeds into very slick interfaces that bring YOU everything you love. Go ahead, them a try:Child Slave Labor News Web site. For over a decade Miss Fantina's students have posted their exposés of multinationals' mistreatment of children in the workforce. A Google search on the key words "child slave labor" will show you how much the world appreciates these students' efforts. Because they finally launched their own site after years on geocities, you'll see that the top three results point to the efforts of these New Jersey high school students. What if every class chose a topic and made it their own? If this interests you, read Why ClassAct Portals? How could students easily begin building expertise on their chosen subject? How could we facilitate this growing knowledgebase? How about a Webtop, startpage or personal homepage?
Here's a quick shared page of RSS feeds I made for our MyPlace Project using PageFlakes. The best thing about iGoogle and Pageflakes is that both are very smart applications that you and your students will really have fun using. Now, connect these RSS AJAX pages to your Class Blog and...