Personal learning environments and portals

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  • 1. Personal Learning Environments and Portals Matthew Mobbs Learning Environments and PortalsFor the purposes of this guide a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) will be defined as an area inwhich learners can organise their education, and also can act as aportal to their web-content and accounts. There are a fewenvironments that are suitable for this, iGoogle, PageFlakes andNetvibes. This guide will focus on Netvibes as a preferred option.Creating a Netvibes accountFrom the home page of Netvibes( select the link Sign up now, itsfree. This link will open a dialogue box prompting you toenter some registration details, an email address andpassword.Once the details have been entered and the Sign up buttonis selected this will launch your account. Your browser mayask if you would like your details to be remembered. If yesis selected, Netvibes will launch into your personalised page when you return to the site thereafter.Personalising your NetvibesThe first touch you can make to persolalise your Netvibes page is naming it. At the top of the pagewhere it says Type your page title here, you can do exactly that. Next, and probably moreimportantly, content can be added to your page. To do this, select the Add content button in thetop left of the page. This opens a selection menu that has three main areas: Browse categories: This gives access to some of the most popular RSS feeds on the web from variety of media sources. Essential Widgets: These are a selection of tools, including Netvibes own widgets and other widgets, that enable content from other web accounts to be controlled from within Netvibes. These will be explored further shortly Add a Feed: Any RSS feed from the web can be entered and the feed results will be displayed.Essential WidgetsFrom the Add content link, Essential Widgets can be selected, seen below. These are a selectionof widgets that allow content from around the web to be controlled from within Netvibes. To addany of the widgets double click the on the icon, and select the Add to my page link when 1
  • 2. Personal Learning Environments and Portals Matthew Mobbs Here we will explore the two widgets that relate to the accounts discussed in the WebServices and Accounts Guide, and Twitter.Del.ico.usWhen the widget has been added to the Netvibes page,hover the mouse cursor over it. In the grey toolbar will appear fiveicons, from these select Edit, this reveals the Configure options. Entering your username and password and selecting Save, will log this widget into your account. When complete select the Close Edit link. When loaded the bookmarks from your account will appear, alongside the tag cloud that has been created from all the keyword tags that have been entered. See the Web Accounts and Services guide formore details about this.Selecting any of the hyperlinked bookmarks will take you directly to the bookmarked website.Bypassing the need to visit the website, this ease of use highlights the abilities of aPLE/portal.TwitterWhen the Twitter widget has been added to your Netvibes page,open the Edit options using the same method described in the section above. Enter your Twitter account details and select ok. This will load your Twitter account, displaying any posts you have Your Posts and Posts written and the posts from other users in your network. They are from users in your displayed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). network appear here Furthermore, there is a box to write a new post, it has a 140 character countdown, for the character limit. See the Web Accounts and Services guide for more details about this.When you have completed your tweet select update, this will automatically update your accountand will also RSS directly to your ePortfolio if Twitter is embedded within it.Other Widgets and ContentThere are many other widgets available within Netvibes for the majority of the most popular webaccounts and services. Netvibes allows you to add as many as you require to your pages.Furthermore, from an education context, a learner can add a personalised RSS feed to Netvibespages, this could be a feed directly from an institutional VLE, if available, keeping them up-to-datewith course content. 2