Back in January, I wrote a post about Pageflakes and the screencast we had created for our media center.  Now Joyce Valenza has inspired me with her latest blog post  about ways we can use Pageflakes with our patrons!  As Joyce points out, we can certainly use iGoogle with our patrons to help them design feeds through their GoogleReader accounts to keep up with the latest news on a particular topic from their favorite web resources:  news outlets, blogs, and RSS feed searches from a few databases.  We showed iGoogle to 9th graderst this past year, and they were very much impressed by the power of iGoogle, but now Joyce and Clarence Fisher  have me thinking about how we can use Pageflakes as personal learning network information portal.

I am not sure how I missed this, but there is a “Teacher Edition” of Pageflakes for educators—it is not really too different from the “regular” flavor, but the widgets and template are more tailored for items and feeds of interest to educators.   Pageflakes could be a powerful tool for teachers—imagine creating a screencast for your students around a particular unit of study in any subject area! 

However, I am really thinking hard tonight about students taking the reins and creating their own learning portal and personal learning networks; there is a student version of Pageflakes available, too!  As Will Richardson pointed out in this blog post,

“From a teaching standpoint, pages of this type can be pretty effective for bringing in potential content and then making decisions about what to do with that content.

Take a look at these three examples: 

All of these screencasts give us a tantalizing taste of how students could use Pageflakes as a personalized research portal.  Note how both examples pull in feeds from podcasts, authoritative news outlets, and vodcasts.   If students are blogging their research process, they can even pull in the RSS feed from their blog as part of their personal Pageflakes portal.  Note also that you can incorporate widgets for favorite search engines as well!  Students can also pull in their personal Google Library feed, You Tube videos, Teacher Tube videos, SlideShare presentations, RSS feeds….the possibilities are truly endless!  Organizational tools, such as sticky notes and “to do” lists, are also available. 

For the short term future, I want to experiment with Pageflakes as a personal learning network for students/information-research portal in three ways:

1.  Teacher-Librarian/School Library Media Specialist lens:  I will seek out a teacher to pilot the use of Pageflakes as a personal learning network/portal at my high school this fall.  We will work together to design mini-lessons to show students how to harness the power of Pageflakes for a particular research assignment.

2.  Classroom Teacher Lens:  As I do the  multigenre research project with my night school students this fall, I want to build a new requirement that they create their Pageflakes screencast to reflect their research.  We could easily incorporate screenshotsof the screencast and a live link to the Pageflakes screencast in their final Word document or better yet, move away from Word and create the final product in Google docs or as a blog/Wiki.  I could also create a blogroll to everyone’s Pageflakesresearch portal on my class blogs that I use with my students.

My third and more ambitious goal is to see if we could get one of our senior English teachers to collaborate with us and use a student created Pageflakes screencast (along with a research blog created by each student) as one of their artifacts for their Senior Project.  This is our school’s first year piloting the “Senior Project” since this year marks the rise of our first senior class—how exciting would it be if kids could easily view each other’s research projects and Pageflakes screencasts?

I will keep you all posted on how these three initiatives come to fruition this fall as the beginning of our school year is just three weeks away!  If anyone else out there is taking on similar collaborative planning projects, please email me at —I am always happy to share ideas and experiences “from the trenches” with another media specialist.  Stay tuned!

A footnote:  Tonight’s blog post and the ideas that have come out of it are the result of my personal learning network I have established using Web 2.0 tools….I will be blogging more about this topic in September!  🙂

Buffy Hamilton, Media Specialist
Creekview High School