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Netvibes.com in the classroom

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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.


I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


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  2. Thanks Jeff, I have a Netvibes account but I have not really used it to its potential. I am going to turn other teachers on to Netvibes so we can share links and resources.

    • The ability to turn any tab public or share it with another Netvibes user is very powerful. We’re already talking in 5th grade of setting each student up with an account and having teachers create tabs of resources for a given unit and then sharing those with students….a whole tab of resources pre-created for student to learn from. Cut down on Google Search time for sure!

  3. Very helpful post, I see the potential of Netvibes. I’ll have to try it out to organized RSS feeds with the kids Blogs this year.

  4. Hi,
    In my university, we have built our own Netvibes based on the open source Posh portal downloadable from portaneo.com. The advantages that we found is the ability to get all contents in the portal, even Netvibes widgets :), even behind a proxy.

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  15. Hi Jeff!

    Do a rare (ugh) run through my reader tonight and caught up on your posts. Love Netvibes, and PageFlakes, and considered them this summer for our 6th grade 1:1 laptop program. However, the Terms of Service for aggregators like these are pretty limiting for students, especially those under the age of 13. Symballoo is an pretty interesting visual aggregator but I don’t like it as well as I do these. So, I ended up having teachers use their Google Readers and students will use those as well once introduced to them. (Using a wiki with posted links to all 150 blogs right now.) We set up our own Google Apps for Edu platform which allows us to get around the 13 year old COPPA issue.

    Glad you have the options you do over there…for now, from stateside, doing the best we can.


  16. Really like this use of netvibes to make collection of student blogs easier for teachers. Your post got me to further mess with my own account and put together a tech page teachers could come to to get a taste of the power of feeds. That got me thinking – what feeds are you reading that you make public? I wish there was a way to mirror a tab from a private page to the public page. It would avoid having to load the public page to keep it current.


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  18. I am a long time user of Moodle as my Learning Management System. Our school got rid of individual faculty webpages and opted for Moodle as a more consistent cohesive LMS. It works great for those purposes.

    I am looking for the next innovation in Education Tool. It is kind of like Netvibes… I want students to take charge of their education managment. Follow each others blogs, save resources, post to classes, receive feedback from teachers, all in one centralized place.

    Great article, inspiration for innovation.

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