Netvibes.com in the classroom

Netvibes.com has been my aggregator of choice for years now. So much so that thinking of changing to another platform at this point makes my head spin. I’ve tried Pageflakes.com for a time and even Google Reader/ iGoogle. To each their own and I’m obviously a netvibes guy. Last summer I wrote a post comparing different aggregators as I was thinking there might be something better.

Today thought I wanted to take Netvibes one step farther. While in Shanghai the 5th grade teachers there set every student up with an account and was able to push content to them by sharing whole tabs of RSS feeds and widgets.

Our 5th grade teachers here in Bangkok are now in the process of setting every student up with a blog for reflective learning. The teachers and students needed an easy way to find and read each others blogs. Netvibes was the perfect solution. It allows you to share specific pages of your RSS feed to the public. Giving you a public URL that can be accessed by anyone. Even better, each tab is it’s own URL so you can link to that specific tab in the site. Here’s how I did it (click on a picture to enlarge):

Netvibes Class Page by you.

1. Create an account at Netvibes.com

2. Create a new tab for your class and name it something that is easy to remember. I used the last name of the 5th grade teachers.

Netvibes Create Tab by you.

3. Next it’s time to load in the RSS feeds into the tab. There are two ways to do this.

  • You can copy and paste the RSS URL from each blog into the Add a feed section under Add content
Netvibes add a feed by you.

  • Or you can install the FireFox extension that allows you to add feeds right from the FireFox toolbar.
2009-08-19_1625 by you.

4. Once you have your feeds on the page the way you like (you can simply drag and drop each widget), the next step is to make your page public so that you can link to it from your blog or anywhere else you put the hyperlink. The nice thing is you can name your public page what ever you like. I named the 5th grade page isbg5: http://www.netvibes.com/isbg5

Netvibes Public Pages by you.

5. That’s pretty much it. There are also other fun widgets you can put on your page. You’ll notice that I’ve embedded another web page that the students and teachers use to share links. Now that we have the Netvibes page created and made public we can link it to the class blogs.

I’ll use Chrissy Hellyer’s class blog as an example (and if you’re not following her you should be!). Using the WordPress plugin Page Link To I created a new page on Chrissy’s blog and linked it to her class tab on Netvibes located at: http://www.netvibes.com/isbg5#Hellyer (We have a two WordPress MU installs at our school. One for teacher sites and one for student blogs)

Link to WP blog by you.

Now when the students or parents, or anyone for that matter visits the class blog they are one click away from the RSS feed of every student. Next step will be to have each student do the same on their own personal blog. Using the same plugin and creating a page with a link to their class site.

What I also like about this is it helps to extend the conversation outside the classroom walls. We’ll start with the six 5th grade classes here at school being able to use this Netvibes site to read and respond to each other across classes. We can then simply add the RSS feeds of other classes and have student reading those as well. Of course as we start to connect with other classes around the world they have a one stop shop as well to all the 5th grade blogs (about 100 when we get done). Not a bad way to help other students find what they are looking for as well. 😉

Of course you don’t have to stop there. You could create a tab for current news, or find sites with RSS feeds that talk about events that you are studying. There are endless possibilities of how you use Netvibes in your class. On the general page you’ll see I even found a Flickr Creative Commons Search box for students to safely search for Creative Commons images right from their Netvibes page…..something we’re teaching them to do next week!

We’ll see where else this takes us as we continue to build our little 5th grade Netvibes site. I encourage you to get in and get messy with it…there are a ton of things you can do with it.

Enjoy!