Netvibes to the Rescue!

I know lots of folks are upset about losing Google Reader as a resource for managing their RSS feeds.  If you’re looking for a replacement, you might want to consider using Netvibes.  This free service has been described as a personalized start page, and it helps you organize all your web content in one place.

I’ve been using it for about four years, mainly to manage my blog feeds, but it can do so much more.  Because Netvibes allows you to add widgets and html coding to your pages, you can embed text, photos, videos, live websites and/or thumbnail links, Flickr streams, etc.  I can check the weather, check things off my To-Do list, and check my blog stats using a Google Analytics module.  I can even read and send Tweets via my Twitter widget at school, where Twitter is blocked.  (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)

Take a look at my public page (Keeping An Eye On…) to get an idea of how it works.  If your district blocks shortened links like mine does, you can click here instead.

I also use Netvibes to archive the websites I’ve shared as part of my WWW program, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.  WWW stands for Weekly Wednesday Website, and I used it in the past to share a new site each week with my faculty.  (Now that I have a flexible schedule, I can work more closely with teachers to recommend sites and tools one on one, so I no longer send out those blanket weekly emails.  I do still add sites to the Netvibes archive, though, for the convenience of my teachers.)

If you think you’d like to make the switch from Google Reader to Netvibes, they’re making it easy for you.  From the Netvibes blog:

As you may have heard, Google has decided to shut down its Reader service on July the 1st. Good news: you don’t need to look for an alternative, Netvibes is the perfect home for all your RSS feeds, and more. Judging by the increase in traffic since the announcement, it’s safe to say that most of you have already make the move, and we’re grateful for that. And if you haven’t done it yet, here’s how you can easily join our community.

It goes on to provide step-by-step instructions for importing your feeds from other services so that you won’t have to start over from scratch.  Apparently a lot of people are making the switch, because there’s a banner across the top of the site today that reads: If you’re experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users. Thank you for your patience.

Whether you choose to use Netvibes or another service, I wish you all good luck on finding a new RSS manager!

 

Hello UTC Participants!

I hope everyone is enjoying the conference!  You can find the notes for my presentation, Managing Web 2.0 Tools for Today’s Teachers and Learners, by clicking here.  Scroll down for the link to my powerpoint, and while you’re here you can check out some of the other presentations, too!  I definitely left the conference with a few useful items in my bag of technology tricks, and I’m looking forward to playing with some of these new tools and revising some of my lessons to include the things I learned this week.  Feel free to contact me with any questions about the material I presented, or to share your own Web 2.0 tools!

Google Apps at the EdTech Conference

 Well, I was planning to record my EdTech Conference experience day-by-day, but that didn’t happen.  I was too caught up in face-to-face interaction Thursday and Friday to take time out for any solitary computer blogging.  I do have some other sessions to report on, though, so here goes.

The first session I attended Thursday morning was an overview of some free Google apps.  The main reason I attended this session was to learn more about the Google calendar, which I’ve been considering using for scheduling the laptop computers and the Media Lab computers at my school.  I’ve heard other media specialists praise it on the SCASL listserv, so I wanted to find out more about it.  I like the fact that my invited users can edit it themselves, because I’d like my teachers to be able to put themselves on the schedule rather than emailing me or worse, sending me notes on little pieces of paper asking if the computers are available.  This is one of the things I love to see technology used for – removing the drudgery of clerical tasks from my daily life.  With my Google Computer Calendar in place, I will no longer have to spend time keeping up with those schedules myself.

What was unexpected in this session was discovering Google Sites, which allows users to quickly create websites that can be made private, semi-public (by invitation only) or public to everyone on the internet.  I like the fact that my pages can be kept in a controlled environment (sometimes necessary in the world of education), but the thing that surprised me about the Google Sites pages our presenter, Karen Minter, has created is that they are ad-free.  I didn’t realize that Google ever refrained from promoting themselves, but according to Karen they do not run ads on educator-created websites.  This was good news, because I really tend to shy away from using sites that run ads of any sort.  After all, if my name is on a webpage, I want to be able to control all of the content that appears there.  (Collaborative work with colleagues excepted, of course.) 

For example, I heard about a new webpage aggregator site called Only2Clicks that displays a full-page-view snapshot of all the sites you have stored there.  This was exactly what I was looking for to use with a project I was doing for my teachers, and when I took a look at the site, I loved the design and the layout of it.  However, there were those rows of little Google ads showing up at the bottom of each 2Clicks page, so I reluctantly decided to stick with using my Netvibes aggregator for the project, even though with Netvibes, the link modules are much smaller and harder to read than those on Only2Clicks, and the Netvibes webpage modules show only the top left corner of a website, rather the the entire webpage.  (See an example of what I’m talking about here.)  Hmmm, now that I think about it, perhaps I should take another look at Pageflakes to see how they handle website views.  If anyone out there is using Pageflakes, maybe you could leave me a comment and let me know…..

Boy, I really got sidetracked from describing my EdTech experience, didn’t I!  It’s getting late, and I think this post is long enough; I’ll report on some more sessions later.

Update: 11/11/08  Well, I did try to go back and take another look at Pageflakes, but the site is down, and apparently has been down for at least two weeks.  After doing some research, I’ve found that there is rampant speculation on the web that Pageflakes is gone for good.  Due to financial difficulties, Pageflakes was acquired by Live Universe in May of this year, and the general web consensus at this time is that the faltering company will not resurface.  Too bad.   

EdTech Technology Conference: Day 1

Well, I’m posting tonight from my hotel room in Myrtle Beach after an eventful first day at EdTech 2008!  I attended a couple of great sessions, marveled at the way our keynote speaker – a hypnotist – led seventeen fellow conference attendees to do things they will surely be embarrassed about later, and even won a door prize!  I then enjoyed a fine Italian dinner with Renee Inman, a fellow media specialist, before cracking open the laptop for a quick blog entry.

My first session today was on using Web 2.0 tools at the elementary level, where I got a few interesting ideas for using some of the apps I’ve been learning about in the SCASL 23 Things program.  The presenter, Anne-Marie Wilcox, also recommended a website that I’m anxious to explore called Jenuine Tech (created by Jennifer Wagner) which offers technology integration projects that teachers can use in their classrooms.  The coincidental thing about this is that I just discovered Jennifer’s blog, Tech Thoughts by Jen, last week and was so impressed by it that I added it to my Netvibes blog feed page

The other session I attended was entitled “50 Ways to Use ETVStreamlineSC.”  Okay, we didn’t really have time for 50 uses, but our presenter (Debbie Jarrett) certainly gave us quality, if not quantity.  Anyone who is only using the videos from this site is missing out on some great resources.  If you haven’t checked out the “Teacher Center” at the ETV Streamline website yet, you’ll be surprised and pleased with what’s available.  If you’d like a digital copy of the information handout I received in this session, just email me (junel@sumter17.k12.sc.us) and I’ll be glad to send it to you.

Time for bed now, but I’ll be up early tomorrow for another day of learning and growing!

ReadWriteWeb Blog

Okay, am I the only one who found Technorati overwhelming?!  My focus right now is on using Web 2.0 in education, but since “Education” wasn’t listed in the Technorati blog directory, I took a look at the “Web 2.0” category under Technology.  Boy, were there a lot of blogs for tech geeks listed there!  I didn’t understand half of what I was reading! 

ReadWriteWebI did find one new blog to add to my Netvibes page, though.  ReadWriteWeb is a blog that provides web technology news, reviews, and analysis.  It’s not something I really need to check daily, or even weekly, but it should be interesting to scan the posts every now and then to keep up with the trends and buzz words in the 2.0 world. 

To be honest, most of the blogs I’m following, such as The Blue Skunk, are ones I found out about by looking at other people’s blogrolls.  For example, Cathy Nelson has some great ones listed at her blog site, Techno Tuesday.  By checking out the blogs she follows, I found additional links to still more good blogs.  It’s good to be part of a network!