Are you making your life harder or easier? Do you have to visit multiple websites in the morning to catch up on important information or does opening up your browser bring it to you?
Let me show you, as part of our best of Web 2.0 series, how I and others use Personalized Start Pages to bring information to us.
What Are Personalized Start Pages
The idea of a personalised start page (some call them Personalized Homepages) is to bring all the content you consume on a daily basis onto the one page. It’s all about convenience, saving time and providing what you want in one handy location — which you can access on any computer anywhere. They’re called personalized because we can customize our start page to our own personal preferences and needs.
Examples of start pages are iGoogle, NetVibes, PageFlakes and Protopage. They all use two components: feeds and widgets (widgets are mini web applications that you can put onto your website). Please note Pageflakes widgets are called Flakes and iGoogle widgets are known as Gadgets.
The feed component means that you can use the RSS feed from websites such as your favorite blogs to feed their latest posts onto your start page. Widgets lets you run cool applications like email, weather, world clock, to-do lists, sticky notes, bookmarks on your start page.
Popularity of Start Pages
Several in my twitter network choose their start page in their top 3 indispensable Web 2.0 tools — Sue Hickton, John . Curry, Awyatt included iGoogle; Graham Wegner listed Pageflakes and Mike Romard likes NetVibes.
Start pages were included in Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008 list (compiled from the top 10 learning tools by 155 learning professionals) and ranked:
- 15th for iGoogle
- 31st for PageFlakes
- 43rd for NetVibes
- Protopage didn’t make the top 100 list.
Choosing Your Start Page
Each start page has its pros and cons; your choice depends on how you want to use it.
The biggest difference is that NetVibes, PageFlakes and Protopage all provide you the option to create:
- Private pages – only you can view what is on your private pages
- Groups pages – you can share the page with a group of people
- Public public pages – viewable by anyone
Whereas iGoogle focuses mainly on your personal needs and you can’t create public pages to share content. However you can share tabs with a group using email.
iGoogle is my favourite start page and is my default home in my web browser. My next post will show you why I use iGoogle and how to set up your own iGoogle but in the meantime check out these examples on how the public NetVibes, PageFlakes and Protopage are used:
Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher) likes to use NetVibes for checking all her students spaces from a project with one quick look. Here is an example of a NetVibes page Vicki created for educators to promote Advocates for Digital Citizenship, Safety, and Success.
Another example is Crimson Connect which is a student run web portal for Harvard Students.
Technobabble created The Giver PageFlake for her English 7 class who are reading the novel The Giver. While the elearning Guild Annual Gathering 2008 Conference and Expo used the AG08 PageFlake to bring together the content being generated by their conference.
Elearning07 conference protopage is an example of a protopage created for sharing information on a conference program with participants.
Other posts from this Best of Web 2.0 series include:
- Setting Up iGoogle For Your Personal Learning
- Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Web Browser?
- Getting More Out Of Blogging And Edublogs
- Blogging Tools To Help You Blog
- Using Your Twitter Network For Help & Providing Their Recommendations
Are you using a Start Page? If so, which one and why? We would love to check out examples of start pages used with students. If you have any examples, can you please share?
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