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PageFlakes For Education

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

PageFlakes for Education

 


 

Definition


 

Pageflakes is an Ajax-based start page similar to My Yahoo!, iGoogle, Netvibes and Microsoft Live. The site is organized into tabs, each tab containing user-selected modules called Flakes containing information such as RSS feeds, Calendar, Notes, Web search, weather forecast, del.icio.us bookmarks, flickr photos and user-created modules. 

 

Here's a basic example of how you could set up a teacher page.  This format would be best as a class "homepage".  I provide other templated examples in the sections below.

 

 

Overview


 

This wiki page gives a very basic overview of what a PageFlake is & How it can be used in education.  PageFlakes launched in late 2005 & has been evolving ever since.  They now offer PageFlakes for Students & Teachers, which offers the same environment, but you get a different group of elements to start with (and it's just one click + a sign up if you are happy with it).  Heather Sullivan thinks that this "special purpose" startup could be improved a bit. E.g. writing tools (Pageflake's little blog, the notepad) and storage tools are missing. They also need to add Flakes to interface with other productivity tools (e.g. interactive concept maps, reference managers, etc.).  These tweeks should be soon realized, as the PageFlakes team seems very dedicated to making the Education-based startup as useful as powerful as possible.

 

 

 

 

PageFlakes in Education


 

PageFlakes is currently (May 2007) the only well known webtop that allows you to share pages. This opens up some possibilities for teachers which we discuss also in places like personal learning environments or e-learning 2.0. For example:

 

  • You can build start pages for your students. These start pages may include widgets to search information, information feeds, etc. plus links to other on-line services used in class, e.g. a mediawiki.
  • Your students can build "themed" pages, e.g. a form of digital storytelling
  • It's a small scale personal learning environment. A teacher can encourage students to build a sort of private information portal + shared learning e-portfolio.
  • It's an environment that can be used to drive activity-based and project-oriented teaching. It's an alternative to teaching with a C3MS that in the long run should have more potential. In the short run you gain from not having to install your portal (which has become an increasing hassle because of all the inherent security problems PHP applications seem to have).

 

Note: Please see the links below for AUTHENTIC examples of how to use PageFlakes with your students

 

 

How-to For Teachers


 

Start-Up:

That's fairly easy....

  1. Start from Pageflakes for Students and Teachers
  2. Sign up!
  3. Add flakes
    • Add Flake (top right button). I suggest to click on gallery and then search. (Flakes are tagged with keywords, e.g. try tools).
    • If you run out of space, you may Add Page to a page.
    • You can move flakes from one page to another by dragging them over the tabs.
  4. Each Flake has an edit button that allows to configure Flakes. To exit from the dialog click on Edit again. Also, some flakes allow you to add contents trough the Edit dialog.

Sharing:

 

Pageflakes has 3 levels of access: Private (the owner), public (whole world) and shared (team). This is where it really gets exciting!!!

 

  1. World: You can share a page with the world, and in addition allow other persons (team) to modify contents, see next item.
  2. Team: Share pages you want with others (click on "Share" on the page tabs you want to share). I.e. you can allow selected users to co-edit a page.
  3. Flakes shared viewing: You can share viewing of individual Flakes with others (Edit->Export). The code can be imported in HTML Pages, blogs or other webtops (including Pageflakes of course). Then tell your students to import or the other way round (teacher assembles student's widgets).

Important tips:

 

  • Killing flakes: Team members can add flakes, can edit contents, but can't destroy Flakes they added. Only the owner of the page can (i.e. the teacher in our case). So you have to tell team members not to add random Flakes (they can do it on their own home pages).
  • Layout: You probably want a different layout. If your students have small screens, then choose a 2 column layout with one small and one large column, otherwise choose a layout with a bigger middle column. Click on SHARE, then Page Layout. Some Flakes need more space, you have to find which ones you can squeeze in smaller columns.
  • You can import other services by clicking on "Add Feed" (some may not work as expected).
  • Moving pages. Ctrl-click on the tab and drag.

 

 

Here's a Scenario for Teachers:

 

Let's image that a teacher wants to use Pageflakes to scaffold various educational activities. She could tell each student or group of students to set up their own personal learning environment and then syndicate their contents.  This may be a bit too complicated to have students start out with from the get-go, so...

The easiest solution is to used teacher-sponsored shared pages.

 

The teacher will have her own pages that she can share. There are four ways for sharing a page:

 

  1. Make it world readable (read only for all)
  2. Make it world readable and team writable (read only for all ) read/write for team)
  3. Make it team readable, i.e your students (read only for team)
  4. Share it with a team, i.e. your students (read/write for team)

 

It's your choice. Personaly, I'd choose world readable and team writable if I had to pick.

To create a shared (team) environment with one page per group or student
  • Create a page for each group or student. Optionally, and to speed up configuration for all pages except the first, you can create a template (click on share) and then reuse the template.
    • Click on 'share' in each page tab
    • Select the 3rd option (Share page with a group).
    • Make sure to check the Allow these people to edit box.
    • Then enter emails for each student. Students must a email, since they will receive an invitation to register.
Sharing Options of Pageflakes
Sharing Options of Pageflakes
  • After they get their mail from Pageflakes students can click on the Invited sign up link and sign in.
  • You also should encourage them to create their own personal homepage.

Warning: Be careful not to use the same browser with different logins. Else you may have to remove cookies or Pageflakes will get confused. So if you test drive, use a different browser or (better) a different computer.

To delete a page: Click on SHARE, then Delete Page

To create a shared (team) environment with one page per subject

The principle is the same, create shared read/write pages for teams. The difference is that you centralize various student activities by activity type in various pages. For some activities, individual students (or groups) would use different instances of a tool (in the same page). For others, students would use a single instance, e.g. for activities that have to do with information bookmarking. All depends on the scope and the architecture of your pedagogical design.

E.g. :

  • You could create a page called Blogs, and tell each group to add a Blog Flake (or do it yourself).
  • Another page could contain management tools, i.e. a task manager for each group, but a common calendar.
  • You may configure an interface (start-page) to the information space of a subject ared

 

 

 

Good Flakes to Get Started


 

At present, there are few Flakes useful to support student productions (as stated previously, I think this will change soon). There are, however, excellent information gathering and management tools like news feeds, interfaces to digital artifact and links sharing websites, search tools, etc. Since the main issue in education is not really information but dealing with it, here is a list of a few basic tools that you may consider using in addition to news feeds and interfaces to social software.

Writing:

 

  • NotePad (e.g. to write small accounts, announcements, etc.)
  • Blog (small blog with basic functions: articles, commenting, formatting and picture insertion).
  • Note (Sticky messages, e.g. to be used for directions and announcements)
  • Zoho Writer Documents (Interface to Zoho, one of the better online tools).

 

Do not hesitate to repurpose an instrument. E.g. if you need a forum, one solution is to create one with Yahoo or Google and then link to it. The disadvantage is that students have to get an extra login. Instead, you could use the blog widget and use the comment feature to reply to a post. For asthetic purposes, you could rename it "Forum".

Communication:

 

  • Mail let's you get mail from major online provides (e.g. Google) plus your own popup.
  • Message Board (sharable).

Planning:

 

  • To-Do-List
  • Class Schedule
  • Calendar (I'd prefer a similar interface to Google Calendar)
  • iCal Viewver (Interface Ical Calendar feeds, i.e. your Google Calendar)
  • Grade Tracker (For students to keep track of classes and grades within classes. A good tool. Now, how about add a third layer with student names and make it a teacher tool ?)

File Management:

 

Forms Creation:

 

  • WyaWidgt from Realtime Applications is a really nice Widget Creator with which you can create fill-in forms in minutes. See an example on my Pageflakes test site (go to the student sample page)
    • It's an approved pageflage widget: WyaWidget

 

 

 

Links


Pageflakes for Students and Teachers

 

Using Pageflakes as Student Portal

 

Using Pageflakes for Digital Storytelling

 

Blog

 

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