I started off my classes today with the Shift Happens video and it instigated some lively discussions.

There were interesting reactions to some of the slides in the video and a lot students were eager to comment. One student questioned why we were in a classroom if what we were learning was going to become obsolete in four years. Other students began to recognize that it is no longer as important to memorize names and dates as it is to understand concepts and processes. The pace of change that the video is predicting is startling and to prepare the students to stay informed during my class and beyond, I will be introducing them to iGoogle. iGoogle is a personalized webpage that allows a user to customize the information that is displayed when you visit the iGoogle page. Many sites with Web 2.0 characteristics offer similar options to customize such as with My Yahoo or My MSN for example. I have chosen to use iGoogle with the students for several reasons:

  1. Students can sign up with their school accounts, you do not need to have Gmail to use this service.
  2. Google Bookmarks and Google Reader – these two widgets are very helpful for students. The Bookmarks can be accessed from any computer and the Reader is an RSS aggregator that organizes your RSS feeds.
  3. Google Docs, Spreadsheets & Presentations – Once registered with Google, a student can use these applications online. The best part is that multiple students can collaborate on the same document simultaneously. This is great for group work.
  4. Customized Google Search – This is a great feature to help students with their research skills. You can create a search toolbar that will only search websites that you specify.