Start Pages


startpages.gifYour Own Personal Web Page in Moments! Fun with Widgets!
Using personalized StartPages for your browser's home page is an efficient and simple solution for keeping all your favourite and frequently visited resources on the Web on one handy and customizable page. StartPages are self-constructed Web pages that use feed boxes or widgets to house favourite links, photos, and even tabs to other pages! StartPages also allow the user to be notified of new email, see calendar entries, upload photos from Flickr, and add news headlines!

The user can customize the position of each feed box or widget by using a drag’n'drop customisation. Generally, access is free and just requires a valid e-mail address to create an account. A StartPage useful for educators and teacher-librarians who wish to have a Web presence to manage sites of interest, but have no desire to learn coding!

Not only for the teachers, most StartPages possess the ability to make public, which is essential for setting up for student use, or private, if the user is not yet ready to share their knowledge with a global audience.

In his blog post, Graham Wegner provides a personal review of the different StartPages and highlights their educational uses.
  • It is an efficient means of gluing web based feeds together on a common theme.
  • Images that can be used for assignments or as discussion starters can be accessed using the Flickr modules.
  • Various widgets can be utilized to beam in current information about weather, world stock market prices, country information – the sky is the limit for how this information can be utlitised when it is gathered in the StartPage portal

Explore

Read about StartPages at

Learn about the different features of the start pages

Start Pages


Getting Started

iGoogle


igoogle-logo.pngYou do not need an account to gain initial access to the default start page. Immediately, you are thrown into the mix. You are able to edit, drag, drop, add, delete, expand, or collapse to your heart's desire. But once you are set on using the service, you will need to register or log into your Google account to save your settings. Doing so will allow you to access this personalized start page from any computer once logged in.



Choose A Theme

Next, you may want to choose a theme and/or colour palette for your page. Initial default content will fill your screen based on your location. In my case, CBC News headlines and TSN sports tidbits occupied the space, as I am located in Canada. Other popular "gadgets" (a.k.a. widgets) populate the rest of the space. These may include horoscope, weather, as well date and time, to name a few.

Adding Content

Specific content can be added via a URL or RSS feed. Google also offers a list of categories to choose from. A simple one-click system facilitates the process for new users.

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Personalizing Your Page

Once you have added content, begin personalizing your page. You can move things around or delete any unwanted content. You can even edit individual gadgets. For example: if you are displaying a feed, you can customize it so that you only see the most recent item, or as many as the 9 most recent items.
With gadgets still in mind, iGoogle also:
  • Provides recommendations to similar content.
  • Enables you to learn more about the content source.
  • Allows you to share with a friend.
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Tabs

iGoogle allows the creation of a tab based on a specific topic, area of interest, or category. These ensure that you will not need to scroll down your start page for hours in order to find a given piece of content. Subsequently, tabs can either be renamed, shared, or deleted.

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PageFlakes

PageFlakes allows me to Pagecast any page I create to share as a web page link with anyone, regardless of whether they have an account.
pageflake.jpgThe tutorial will focus on creating a page in Pageflakes as it is one of the StartPages that allows user to make their pages public. It also loads quickly, there is a variety of "flakes" that can be added to the page, and it features a clean design. Pageflakes also offers resources specifically for educators, including a special version of its site, student.pageflakes.com.


Watch the Personalized Pageflakes tutorial to help you begin.


or this SlideShare entitled Creating A Pageflakes Account in Three Easy Steps

Examples

The following are examples of Pageflakes pages created by educators:
Onsted High School (MI, USA)

Configure your Start Page

  1. Personalize your start page with widgets etc...
  2. Add the blogs found in your blog search to your personal start page
  3. Add a news feed (from CBC, BBC, CNN..... note: you can subscribe to sports, arts, etc)



Teaching and Learning


  1. How can we help our students create their own meaningful information spaces to support their work as learners?
    I think we may need to guide them to widgetizing their personal desktops. This year we asked our seniors to useiGoogleas a tool to organize their senior projects. I see more tools like that emerging. Now students can open an interface and be presented with their favorite online dictionary, foreign language tools, mapping tool, thesaurus, calendar, to-do list, while they push research-relevant RSS feeds to them through a reader. They choose their theme. Their little game applets are there too. This was perhaps the "stickiest" activity they've done yet this school year. The spaces continue to grow more personally meaningful (Valenza).
  2. But how could we set up a shared reading and reflecting experiences if everyone had their own individual iGoogle pages?
    Around a year ago, iGoogle added a Share this tab, function. And if materials we wanted were not available as an official gadget, we could embed a GoogleReader gadget and subscribe to nearly every journal or newspaper with a feed. We could also embed links to a variety of collaborative Google tools--docs, calendars, etc. (Valenza)
  3. Other Reasons to Use Start Pages
  • Textbooks age before they even hit our classrooms. They homogenize way before they are published. It might not work for every subject area, but is this one strategy we might use to enhance, democratize, customize, and invigorate class readings?
  • If we embed the right tool gadgets/widgets, collaborative writing, planning, and building could happen right in the content space.
  • Our students could easily suggest additional feeds and widgets or gadgets they find useful and participate in building our text.
  • This activity models the kind of lifelong learning we want to encourage. I want learners to know they can develop tabs or flakes and gather widgets for their emerging information needs regardless of how casual or how formal.
  • This activity models yet another way we can help our faculty build information resources they need to improve their own practice
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(Source Joyce Valenza)