Add NetVibes for Feeds

Background

Q. Why do you need a Feeds page?

A. So students to easily access podcasts, videos, news, etc. from one place without having to log-in or have an account.

You can get a quick idea of what RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is from the Common Craft video.

Once you have an online space like WordPress, it’s very handy to set-up a service that gathers the latest news, publications and resources of most interest to you from across the Internet.  I used to use  Pageflakes for this (even have a handy tutorial on Pageflakes), but after they 1) were sold years back and widgets started withering and then they went totally dark for weeks, I vowed to look elsewhere.  Many people have championed Netvibes for quite a while, but I resisted until the Pageflakes blackout because I preferred the way Pageflakes presented videos and podcasts and that you could have many public “Pagecasts.”  Also copying whole pages from other users was great, but if you can’t access your feeds, what’s the point?

Before going on to Netvibes, I should explain why iGoogle is out of the picture.  From an educational standpoint, the ability to create rich feeds and then put them only a link away from learners is critical.  With iGoogle, you can only share feeds with others with Google accounts and you must include them.  Until that changes, iGoogle and other newcomers like Feedly and other great iPad apps won’t work for “Edge-ucators.”

So, on to Netvibes

  1. Go to Netvibes.com and look for the “Get Started” button of the SIgn-in link in the upper right corner.  If you are prompted to sign-up for the Premium Trial, make sure you switch the the Basic Free account. (or go direct to the “sign-up” page)

    Make sure you use an email address that you can access right now to activate the account.

    Go ahead and choose a picture to personalize your dashboard or stay with the default:
    You can now either choose to skip or use the Wizard to learn more about Netvibes.
    You may have noticed that you haven’t signed in yet, so let’s do that right now! Use either a Facebook account or start a new Netvibes one to begin.
    Make sure you can check your email and that you click on the Confirmation link.

This will bring you back to your main browser and to a “private page” with default content.

I’m going to suggest that you immediately begin working – not on this default private page, but – on your public page.  So go up to the Dashboard menu and choose “Activate my public page.”

This will step you through the process of setting up a page that anyone can view.

Before we make your public page, we have to get your age right, so in the Dashboard, click on “Edit Account Info” and set your birthdate (don’t have to make this public) and also set your country and city so the time zone is correct.  Then click “Save Changes.”

Now back in your Dashboard, click on Manage Dashboard under Dashboards in the left sidebar menu:

Now click the radio button that enables your public page: 

Complete the details on the account type:

Then click on Save Changes.

This returns you to your Private page (so don’t start adding RSS Feeds you want the world to see).  Use the Dashboard menu again and this time you will see the name of the Public page you just created.  Go to it.

This is the beginnings of what will shortly become an amazing resource for you and your students (and anyone else who happens across it!).  A few things to notice here.  Number 1 below shows the public URL of this page.  You can now add this to your blog as a menu item or sidebar link so that you and students can always get to it as one click away from your main learning platform. Number 2 shows the first (of what can become many) tabs that will contain rich resources.  Notice two things: 1) you can edit the name “General” by clicking on it and 2) you can specify which of your tabs to go to from the URL by adding it with a #.  If you refresh the page after editing the Tab title, you’ll see that the URL changes to the new title – slick! Number 3 shows that you can add more tabs (on different topics? types of resources? etc.) whenever you like.

 

Start by changing the TItle of the page to something that’s more reflective of what you’ll use it for (you can always edit it again):

As a First Step, I’d suggest exploring someone else’s Netvibes public page so you can “pinch” great feeds off them.  Try Lindy’s China News page or Tom’s Asian Resources page or his Podcasts page as starters.  The benefit of viewing other’s Netvibes pages is that you can add any Feed / widget you find there to your own page.

On the widget you want, simply click on the “share” icon and then send it to your public page.

 

 After you’ve “pinched” to your heart’s content, go to the “Add content” menu in the upper left of your screen

and choose “Essential Widgets.” Explore what is available here.

My favorites are:

  • Notes
  • HTML Editor (for putting anything into a widget)
  • HTML (for adding any embed code – really useful when using WordPress.com)
  • Weather
  • Then use the “Search” for widgets for “Box” (file storage), “world clock” and “podcast” + something like “French” to find “French Podcasts.”

You add the widget to your page by either dragging it there or clicking it and then adding it.  Once you have a few “Essential” widgets that will be enough for a start, now it’s time to add real RSS feeds from anywhere on the Web.

Now it’s time to look for RSS feeds from other sources. Begin by opening another Browser Tab or Window.

Tab

Now search / surf to sites you like for information and see if they have an RSS feed link. For example, you might go to the ABC website and search the page for “RSS”. Then click on the link.

ABC

Look through the RSS feeds available. Really good sites, divide their content into sections so you can get the latest on your main interests (like “science,” “world news,” “movies,” etc.). When you find a section you want to get the updates on, copy the link.

copy

Then go back to your Netvibes page and click on the “Add a Feed” link in the “Add Content” menu.  This opens a panel for adding RSS Feeds from other sites.

Paste the RSS feed address you copied into the field and then click the “Add Feed” button. You’ll see the new feed icon below.  Drag this icon wherever you want on your page. If it doesn’t work, then you didn’t get the RSS feed address quite right. Just try again.

Here are some sources for great RSS feeds:

Extras – If you come to love Netvibes, add the Firefox extension so you can easily add new feeds
Finally, realize that you can change the look and feel of the Netvibes page dramatically by using the “Settings” (accessed through the slider icon in the upper right corner).

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