In case you haven’t noticed, the world wide web has changed substantially in the last few years. I am not talking about the number of websites, as those have been increasing since the web started. I am talking about two major facors: Blogs and the Web 2.0 movement – the 2.0 is referring to a new generation of websites, those the act less like standard websites, and more like programs on your computer. Try the example that lets you drag items into a box on the page. This was not possible a couple years back.
What does this new web mean for educators? Here is how it has impacted my life:
- We use the free, open source blog software WordPress to power a Digital Poetry blog and our Parents’ Association website. We let them post entries in a remote WordPress site, then using the automatically generated RSS feed, we publish onto our school’s Intranet. We control the look and feel, the parents control the content. Great symbiosis.
- We use AirSet, a free portal for blogging, calendaring, communicating, sharing links and more. The site allows you to give certain people access to certain parts of your group. We use the group calendaring feature to power our intranet calendar. Once again, just pull out an auto-generated RSS feed, style it, and pop it on your website. No longer necessary for the webmaster to update the calendar. Empower your end users.
- AirSet also has a free synchronization tool that works with Microsoft Outlook. I have it sync my calendars and contacts each night so that I can update either from AirSet or Outlook. I will explain what I do with the calendar RSS feed on that private calendar later.
- 30boxes – I have been evaluating as many web calendars as I can get my hands on, and this one is hands down the best. Create a free account, and type right into the box at the top of the page, “Building Learning Communities July 17-20 (Weston, Massachusetts)” and 30boxes automatically figures out what you are saying, and adds it to the calendar. Amazing! Then choose what friends are allowed to see what parts of your calendar. You can also tag events. I use school, personal, professional and others. You can then pull RSS feeds out based on tags, or pull out the whole calendar. You can also sync to iCal on the Mac, or export to CSV for Microsoft Outlook. If you have a website, use their HTML badge creator to make a nifty calendar piece for your website.
- Right now for me, Protopage, self-described as, “Free Personal Start Pages,” is the granddaddy of them all. Head to Protopage and click the link at the top right to start your own page. You can add whatever you want to a page, to-do lists, RSS feeds (click to add 21apples to your Protopage), an e-mail checker (great feature), weather, links and more. I have a few different pages, one for work, one for personal, etc. On my personal page, I pull weather, personal e-mail, and my personal calendar (30boxes) all from feeds. I also use their sticky notes as to-do lists. On my school page, I pull school e-mail, the school’s Airset calendar, the Parents’ Association feed, and my Airset calendar (sync’d from my Outlook calendar) via RSS feed. Now I really do have 1 starting page which lets me see my calendar, my new e-mail, my to-do list and more. No need to go around checking all the different information systems I use. I can quickly pull up my page from any web browser, and check all relevant info.
Lots of information to parse I realize, but try out some of the websites, you won’t be disappointed. If you have any other great ones to add, please leave a comment with a link.