In Their Own Words: Students Provide a Video Tour of Their Netvibes Learning Portals

After a little stumble out of the gate during the previous week because of some tech issues we had to resolve,  my Media 21 students jumped full force into adding content about their new veterans’ issues research project to their Netvibes information portals this past Monday.  While I am doing some “Netvibes triage” for students who may feel a little less confident even after some guided group practice and the sharing of video tutorials, some students have jumped in fearlessly and become our classroom experts who are exceeding our expectations and helping their peers, too.

Originally, Ms. Lester and I envisioned the Netvibes portal as being a PLE (personal learning environment) that would reflect the tools and information sources for their research on the veterans’ issues each student selected.  However, as you will see in the videos, some are also using Netvibes to create additional tabs to house information sources and multimedia they feel supports the books they are reading in their literature circles that are taking place concurrently within the larger context of this research project.

The videos you are about to see were shot on the fly during 7th period on Friday, March 26, 2010 in class.  When asked if they needed a moment to collect their thoughts about what they wanted to share in the video, neither student hesitated and was immediately ready to tell the story of their work with Netvibes from the last week.   The videos are a wonderful form of assessment in terms of students sharing their work as well as providing feedback about how certain tools or learning activities are (or are not) working for them—I love my Flip cameras!  Above all, though, these videos make me realize how much these students have grown since August—I honestly sat in awe as I listened to them articulate their work they have accomplished in just a few days and to hear the passion in their voices about their research topics and work.  You can visit these students’ Netvibes pages (which will still be growing until the beginning of May) by clicking here and then clicking here.

My next post will share students’ responses to Evernote,  so please stay tuned!


Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak and Recall Pageflakes Information Portal


Check out my latest Pageflakes Pagecast on the peanut butter salmonella outbreak and recall! My portal includes:

  • The official CDC/FDA Peanut Butter recalled products widget
  • Latest news feeds from Google News
  • The latest blog entries from the official CDC/FDA blog on the peanut butter salmonella outbreak
  • Videos on the outbreak from the FDA YouTube Channel
  • Podcasts from the CDC on the outbreak
  • One of the official badges with information for citizens to call for more info on the peanut butter products recall
  • The RSS feed for the FDA Recall Twitter Twitterstream
  • My favorite bookmarks via
  • Widgets to two of my GALE databases for students to search

Inauguration Goes 2.0: Pageflaking Information Streams

pageflakes-inaug_smallerIf you haven’t had a chance to try Pageflakes (or Netvibes) as an information portal to stream information on a topic for your teachers and students, then take a look at my latest Pageflakes pagecast to see the power of social media!  I created a Pageflakes Pagecast to aggregate and stream my favorite resources for Inauguration 2009. What information streams are included in this pagecast?

  • A RSS feed from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s blog
  • An embedded widget that will carry UStream TV’s  live coverage of the inauguration ceremonies.
  • A RSS feed with the latest entries from
  • An “Inauguration 2009 Countdown” widget
  • A widget with my media center’s favorite bookmarks related to all things Inauguration 2009 via delicious
  • A widget with the latest videos from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s YouTube channel
  • A Flickr widget with photos from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s Flickr account (includes great photos of Lincoln’s Bible!); there is also an additional photo widget for a Flickr group for “Inauguration 2009” photos that is tied into the Smithsonian’s “Click!  Photography Changes Everything!” project.
  • A widget with the latest headlines via Google News related to Inauguration 2009
  • A widget from the Washington Post called “Inauguration Watch 2009”
  • A Time magazine widget that will carry live blog posts from the ceremonies on January 20.
  • Widgets with the latest Tweets from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s Twitter account as well as the Inauguration_DC Twitter account.

What makes this pagecast so cool and relevant?  The content is live and dynamic—as feeds and content are added to each of these mediums, the updates are automatically reflected on thepagecast widgets.   The pagecast is the perfect medium for the organic information feeding into the information portal.  A pagecast also allows you to incorporate new media into your resource portal—much more exciting and informative than  a static flat  list of links on a traditional 1.0 web page.

If you have not tried using an information portal such as Pageflakes or NetVibes, I’d like to encourage you to consider giving it a try!  You can check out some of my favorite resources for learning about Pageflakes, examples of pagecasts, and how libraries are using information portals at .

If you like the pagecast, please feel free to link to it from your own media center blog, website, or wiki!

Buffy Hamilton, Media Specialist
Creekview High School

Pageflakes As a Personal Learning Network Portal: Learning and Research 2.0

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