Creating a personal homepage

Creating your own personal homepage / feed reader can be really simple to do and can also help you to save time and stay in touch with what's going on in your professional and personal life.

My own personal home page is something I use everyday and have open for most of the day. It brings me the news from all my favourite websites, blogs and yahoo groups and allows me to scan content from 20 -30 different sources within a few moments. This would otherwise take me a few hours!

So when I was asked to design a course to help teacher trainers use Web 2.0 technology in their teaching, I decided that a session on RSS and personal home pages was an essential.

I've been using a yahoo reader for more than 4 years now, but I've become increasingly impressed with some of the other readers on offer and so I decided to have a look around at what else was available. Some of the main ones that impressed me were:
Of these my favourites turned out to be Netvibes. So I produced this task list to help teachers set up their own homepage and explore some of the capabilities of Netvibes. Feel free to print and use this yourself if you want to set up your own homepage or use it with other teacher if you would like to help them set up their own page.
What I like about Netvibes
  • It is quite easy to add feeds from sites and blogs
  • The visual design is really nice and quite clean and modern with simple block colours
  • There is a nice assortment of widgets to add including ones to enable me to check both my Apple DotMac email account and my Yahoo email account from the same page.
  • There is some nice localisation of content
  • The interface is generally pretty simple and intuitive so a good one to use with people who aren't too IT savvy
  • I particularly like that you can set up the 'Web search' widget to search across multiple search engines and a variety of different formats from text to video.
  • You can add and name different pages for different topics (one for ELT and a separate one for technology etc.)
  • You can have private pages and also have public pages to share with your students.
So why should teachers use a personal homepage?
  • There's lots of functionality all in one place, so it can save you loads of time
  • You can keep in touch and up to date with blogs and other sites that change almost every day / few hours.
  • The Flickr creative commons feed is a great source of images / flashcards to use in class or online.
So how can you use this with students?
  • You can have your own personal homepage and add public pages for different students / classes to feed them information or publish their work or links to their projects. There's a great example of this which Gladys Baya created
  • You can get students to create their own home pages and use the range of resources and widgets to help support their learning. Things like 'to do list' can help to set learning goals and remember homework. Sticky / web notes can be used to help them remember new vocabulary words and definitions.
  • There are a host of different widgets from dictionary / thesaurus ones to word of the day, idiom of the day etc which can help our students learn.
  • They can set up their homepage to supply them with the kind of English language content they are interested in, from sport to lifestyle.
Well I hope you find the task sheet useful and if you don't already have a personal homepage, you try this out. It really is a time saver.

I'd also be very interested to hear comments from anyone else who has their own personal homepage and to hear what you are using to create it. Any other Netvibes fans???


Nik Peachey

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