Tuesday, 26 February 2013

And this is just the start...

It looks like I shall be working with the lovely people from Opera Unlimited on their Birdswing project this summer. During half term I've been thinking about working online with the project group. We all live in different parts of the country and so I suggested setting up a wiki for the project . Naturally enough I turned to Google since I've worked with Google Apps for Education for 3 years - I opted for a shallow learning curve (N.B.) and focussed on the best way to achieve my aim which was to offer a range of tools we might use with the wiki ( a Google Site). Now I have no clear idea of the team members' competence, though they all use Macs - unlike most schools. So using online tools makes a lot of sense. From their email addresses it was clear they weren't Google natives so they would likely be unfamiliar with the dizzying range of tools on offer to those with a Google account. It seemed to me that a start page similar to the one I'd created for use with students would be useful.
So I set about making one and the result can be seen above. It's a one page Google Site. I selected a range of Google tools that seemed most useful, added icons for the two sites so far set up for the project and, in the empty spaces, links to assets and an online tool that could well be helpful to these projects. It didn't take too long since I already had a collection of  icons made my school start page. A little HTML hacking was needed to even out the table cell sizes and remove their borders. And, sad man that I am, I enjoyed it. I don't know yet what they'll think of it, but it pleased me and I think it's just what is required...
Thinking about it in the car I wondered idly whether there was a site that could save me or, more importantly, someone a little less geeky than me, a deal of time and brain strain. Google offered iGoogle and now Chrome offers applets from their Play Store, which appear as icons on a page when a new tab is created. iGoogle is due to disappear later this year and the creation and customisation of Chrome's icons is limited. Anyway who wants to be in thrall to Google? And how about sharing such pages with non-Google People? There are of course bookmarking sites, but I want something: attractive, easily customisable and repeatable so that I could have a set of pages to keep online sets of tools and workspaces together .
When I arrived home I started a little googling to see if I could find such an app. Whilst I confess my search was not exhaustive I found nothing quite like this. Have I missed something?
Am I starting something?