Thursday, June 17, 2010

Netvibes for Classroom Use

Using RSS aggregators in the classroom can teach students (and even teachers) how to utilize the power of web2.0 technology to work for an individual. Rather than going to each and every website separately for new content, the new content comes directly to the user. After taking some time to further explore one such RSS aggregator, it is clear that there are some serious benefits for using Netvibes in the classroom.

As a journalism teacher, I was interested in finding out how students might benefit from setting up Netvibes as a news resource. I plan on requiring all of my students to use Netvibes as a customizable resource that will allow students to check in on local, national and international news sources and check out the latest headlines from around the globe.

quick look at my journalism resource page

One of the benefits of using Netvibes is that a single individual (such as a teacher) can publicly share a tab with an entire group (classroom of students). You can see how I've created a shared space on Netvibes at Here, my journalism class can easily grab news resources from around the world and I can add more content as I see fit.

The other reason why I really think Netvibes would be great for schools is that the interface is extremely visual and easy to use. One can easily add, delete or edit new widgets quickly and easily. Check out this blog for a bit more regarding the visual nature of using Netvibes. You can even change the theme of your Netvibes page to reflect the season, topic of study or simply as a change of pace. You can even create custom themes and use photos that you take during the year. I recommend asking students periodically to allow them time to give some proper feedback as to what is working and how you can enhance the content of your class space.

Although there are some serious ways to use Netvibes in the classroom, there are a few pitfalls to note for all users, especially teachers. The first is to simply be aware that websites often change and this may affect some of your widgets. It is extremely important to check in now and again to make sure that all your widgets are working correctly. Second, is understanding that a tool like Netvibes mirrors the ubiquitous nature of the web; there is no clear delineation between personal and professional uses of such a tool. One one hand, you can link all your student to web content and links to student blogs, but you can also get the latest updates on your favorite video game or television series. As always, just keep in mind that, as teachers, we must be mindful of the inherent good and bad with any technology, Netvibes is no exception.

With that said, I find the use of Netvibes extremely fun and useful for a class looking to use an RSS feeder to bring the latest content all over the web to one place. It can bring so much information to your students and even be used as a tool for teachers trying to keep up with the new web 2.0 out there. Check out this Netvibes Tutorial or this simple tutorial to get started. If you're looking for a little more, take a look at the official Netvibes Developers Blog.

For a bit more about setting up your Netvibes, check out the following video...

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