Well, I have to admit that these new Web 2.0 homepages are really interesting--and a black hole for your time if you let it. Trying out the different features, seeing how quickly one can build a useful page, finding easy-to-use widgets, and testing out the RSS feeds on four homepage sites (igoogle, netvibes, pageflakes, and symbaloo) was pretty time-consuming. I have realized, however, that trying to figure out which one has the best features really depends on what you are looking for, so I'll just sum up what I've learned.

 

 

What they all do: All of these sites allow you to quickly and fairly easily add little tools and resources that pull Web content in to your single (or multi-tabbed) Web page--rather than you linking out to content that you have to go find. Dragging and dropping gadgets or "boxes of content" is the standard on these Web 2.0 homepages. No one can view your pages unless you want them to--they are password protected. However, you can make one or more pages public, or share a full page or just a single gadget with your "friends."

 

 

First up, just to get it out of the way is Symbaloo. On this homepage, each widget "box" is exactly the same size--almost square--with a large box in the middle for content to show up (or not) when you click an appropriate box.

 

 

Pro: Provides a fun, very different format for a home page.

Con: Very few widgets available, customization of boxes are sometimes difficult--obviously a site that is just starting out

Grade: C-

(Rating based on personal opinion)

 

 

symbaloo.jpg

default "home" page

 

symbaloo-news.jpg

"News" page where current stories link from boxes depicting the story. Mouse over picture to get the first few lines of the story.

So, although it was fun--and I enjoyed seeing the most current news stories in such a visual manner, I wouldn't recommend this new-kid-on-the-block. It's just too limiting--although an exception would be if you want students to have an interesting method of accessing news-breaking, current event stories. This homepage might be an engaging means to provide access to a variety of news sources.

 

But try it out yourself--you don't even need to sign up for an account to play around with the blocks. What do you think?