Personalised startpage as customisable learning tool

Topoi Pageflake

CIT has a personalised startpage called Nexus. This is by no means unique. There are many startpages such as iGoogle, My Yahoo!, Pageflakes, Netvibes... the list goes on.

What is unique about Nexus - which has been positioned as a Personal Learning Environment - is that you can see your IVLE modules, NUS email and a few other NUS-only services, right from a single customisable page.

An aside about PLE: It is not so much a particular product or software as much as it is a concept about people taking charge of their learning through various connective online software and tools. I suppose a startpage could function as a PLE, but that would not be my preference.

Back to Nexus. The trouble with this positioning is that the "make of it what you will" approach leaves too much wiggle room. As much as you don't want to restrict people's creativity, giving them a blank slate and telling them that you can do anything with it most often results in them doing absolutely nothing with it.

(The same issue with the 'infinite possibilities' tack plagues wiki adoption.)

Can a startpage be used for learning then?

The answer, according to Mark Marino from the University of Southern California, is a definite yes.

He has created a course page on Pageflakes which has various widgets which his students can use in their own startpages. In effect, he has created content in different formats, which some would call learning objects, for his students to grab and paste into their own startpages.

I'm not sure I explained that clearly, so it's best to read Mark's post about the Topoi Pageflake.

So, Nexus can be used in a similar manner. A course tab can be created and shared with students. On the tab, the teacher can pull in various resources related to the course - RSS feeds, relevant videos, bookmark lists, etc. These individual widgets can be copied by students to their own Nexus account for their reference.

Hat tip to Wired Campus for highlighting Mark's use of Pageflakes.

2 thoughts on “Personalised startpage as customisable learning tool

  1. Myron Tay

    Fantastic idea. Was toying with Ning personally to create a centralized discussion forum, and it ends up being nothing more than just another forum (a really messy one at that).

  2. Kenneth Pinto (admin)

    Ah, Ning. I’ve tried that before but somehow never got the hang of it. I belong to one Ning community, but… how do I put it? It doesn’t have a ‘sticky’ factor. When it’s out of sight, it really is out of mind!

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