Tech Tip Tuesday – iGoogle Gadgets

Following Google’s philosophy of making the information you want readily available to you, iGoogle offers many different gadgets and themes to customize your iGoogle home page. Here’s a look at what we’ve done with ours.

From Mary Fran:

I really like a quick snapshot of the time and weather. That’s why Date & Time and Weather are at the top of my page.

To keep organized I now have my Google calendar on my iGoogle page. My husband and I share calendars, so if he forgets to tell me about a meeting he has at night, I find out about it by checking the calendar. I also miss fewer birthdays and the ToDo list that is easier for me to keep track of now that it isn’t on a piece of paper that’s easy to lose.

Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes, but I rarely sit down and look at the magazines I get in the mail. To keep meals interesting at home, I have the and 100 Cookbooks gadgets. There are often fast, easy, and yummy recipes to try. And if the recipes are really good, I just copy them to a folder to keep track of them.

I like knowing what’s going on in the world, and I like to get the news from different perspectives. That’s why I have the CNN, BBC, and NYTimes news gadgets on my iGoogle page. After reading the news, Inspirational Quotes and Pictures often gives me a quick pick-me-up, as does the Places to See gadget. They take me away from it all for a second. And, if I want to find out more about the place, there is a Google Search box on the Places to See gadget so I can find out more about the place and broaden my horizons.

On my class iGoogle page, I keep Phases of the Moon, the World Daylight Map, a timer, and a Dictionary Gadget. It makes it easy for me to pull them up in a second should the opportunity to use them arise.

From Colette:

On my main iGoogle page, I keep my critical Google gadgets:  Gmail, Docs, Calendar and Reader. This allows me to quickly scan which items need my attention, unread messages, and appointments.  Because I see my iGoogle page every time I open my browser, I can easily keep on track of all that’s going on in my life.

Like MaryFran, I also have several news feeds on my page plus the 4-day weather forecast.  I also like to occasionally try out new gadgets on my homepage.  If after a few weeks I find that I don’t use it – I switch it out for another.  Currently I am checking out:  How to of the Day, MyRecipes:  Dinner Tonight, and Free Coupons Finder 2.1.

Don’t want to spend a lot of time searching through all the gadgets?  You can add thematic tabs that are already populated with gadgets.  For example, if you add a new tab and name it “Just for Fun“, the following gadgets will appear on that tab for you (keep “I’m feeling lucky” checked):  Joke of the Day, Sudoku, Hangman, Quote of the Day and Horoscope.  Consider adding tabs named Finance, News or Sports and see which gadgets show up.

Another tip: Did you know you can share iGoogle tabs you create with your friends?  Click on the down arrow on the tab name and choose “share”.  You can also edit your tabs or restore your iGoogle page to a preview version.

Have fun with your customizing your iGoogle page and don’t forget to check out the Artistic themes and customizable themes for your iGoogle page.  The themes color your iGoogle page with holiday images, artwork and color schemes. Some even change throughout the day, depending on the time.

Tech Tip Tuesday is written and published weekly by MaryFran Lynch and Colette Cassinelli.  The archive of all tips are located at:

Tech Tip Tuesday – iGoogle homepage

iGoogle (also called Google Personalized Homepage) is a customizable startpage that you can use instead of the traditional Google homepage.  You can aggregate all the Google resources you use on your online desktop like: GMail, Google Calendar, bookmarks, Google docs, news feeds, weather and so much more.

I love to customize my iGoogle homepage.  Each section is called a “gadget”.  You can select which gadget you want and move them around to your liking.  You can fit as many gadgets as you want on the page but you might consider only having six gadgets and placing additional gadgets on other tabs.

To find which gadgets are available go to “Add Stuff” on right side of upper screen. *** WARNING***  Some of the gadgets are made by 3rd party vendors and aren’t always school appropriate.  Search through the gadgets and choose which ones you want to add to your page.  The categories are: 

Some other personalized homepages:

Next week MaryFran and I will be sharing our favorite Google gadgets

Web page portals are getting an extreme makeover

According to Bare Bones 101, the definition of a Portal:

Portals are directories that have been created or taken over by commercial interests and then reconfigured to act as gateways to the web. These portal sites not only link to popular subject categories, they also offer additional services such as email, current news, stock quotes, travel information and maps.

Some of the best examples of portals are Yahoo, AOL and MSN. These websites want you to use their page as your home page. When you open up your browser – everything is there: mail, weather, news, stocks, etc.. The only problem is that most of the content on the front of these pages are “sponsored links”. The pages are busy and have a lot of ads.

With the invention of personalized homepages like iGoogle, MyYahoo, MyAOL, Pageflakes, Netvibes, and Windows Live – I think we will see less and less use of the traditional portal page. If you already have a Gmail account, you should definitely set up your iGoogle page. It’s fun to add new widgets for mail, calendar, RSS, weather, joke of the day, etc. I get to choose what’s on my homepage. I don’t need MSN to tell me what to read or look at anymore.

Image source:

Top Ten Tools 2008

Colette’s (updated) Top 10 Tools

  1. tool.jpgGmail. I love this web based email system and the fact that I can access it from any computer. Not only do you get tons of storage but I like the way it keeps the threaded conversations together. Gmail chat is also nifty.
  2. Google Docs. Google docs are great for collaborating and sharing information with others. You must invite friends to participate in your documents but it’s so easy to edit ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!.
  3. iGoogle Ok, ok, so I love of all the of the Google products – but I do use them and find them easy to use. iGoogle is a personalized page (which I make as my own homepage) that you can customize with all kinds of widgets like: weather, calendar, CNN news, Google Reader (RSS), Gmail notifier, jokes, etc…
  4. I can’t believe how much I depend on this social bookmarking tool to remember sites I have visited but also for sharing cool sites with my friends. Now I don’t need to be that annoying friend who always sends emails recommending websites (I can’t help myself) – if I find a site and know my friend’s name I can tag the site as: for:ccassinelli and then when that user goes to their account they can add my favorite to theirs. This is very helpful for group projects!
  5. flickr. This web-based photo sharing site is awesome for uploading photos to share with friends. I like how you can create different albums and tag photos for easy sorting. I also love snooping through my friend’s albums too!
  6. My first RSS aggregator was Bloglinesand I still use it today. I like how I can create folders for all of the ed tech blogs I read. Here are my folders: personal, ed tech bloggers, under consideration and last chance. When I stumble across a blog I might be interested in I add the feed in the under consideration folder. When I find that I enjoy the blog and read it often it moved up in rank to the ed tech bloggers folder while some of those are demoted to last chance before I decide to do away with the feed.
  7. Audacity. This easy to use FREE audio editing software is easy to use for podcasting and editing audio files. You will need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export your audio files at MP3 instead of WAV – but it’s easy to download and install.
  8. Wikispaces. I’ve already mentioned my love of wikis in my blog but for collaboration and easy editing – wikis are the way to go. I also love the fact that Wikispaces gives FREE wikis to teachers. Thanks for the support!
  9. Voicethread – A great tool for encouraging collaboration in your classroom. Upload photos and add text, audio or voice comments with a web cam. My new personal favorite way to get students to share comments with each other.
  10. Moodle. I started using Moodle this last year with a few of my computer classes but will use this open-source course management system with all my classes this year. It’s easy to use, has built in blogging and modules (quizzes, journals, docs) that make it easy to keep all class documents in one area.

as collected by Jane Hart


2007 Top Ten Tools: (my current list is pretty similar to the 2007 list. Hey – I like what I like!)

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