iGoogleAs a graduate student and educator I found it more and more difficult to balance my day-to-day without some organizational assistance. I was constantly checking my calendars, and putting bookmarks on every website I found so I could read it later. I then discovered iGoogle.

iGoogle is a web page designed by Google to allow users to create their own personalized home page. Users can choose to put their calendars, e-mail inbox, bookmark list, RSS readers, and other neat gadgets right in one place. Google supplies thousands of these free gadgets designed to help reduce your need to visit a dozen different pages in one day. Not only does this give your mouse a rest, but it keeps all your important web sites up front and current all the time.

Once I started using this tool on a daily (okay, hourly) basis I realized how useful this could be for all educators, or what’s more, for their students. As many schools are making formidable budget cuts, teachers are finding ways to reduce their paper and copier use by turning to digital software to store and share assignments. Now we have classrooms of students that are using the internet on a daily basis for research and homework assignment. And just like they would need that old pile of paper, students need a virtual locker to store all this virtual information. This is where iGoogle comes to the rescue.

I have slowly been weaning some of my more tech-savvy students onto iGoogle. I find that they are just as excited about it as they are for their social networking web sites. They can personalize their pages with the gadgets and tools that they need to be successful in school, AND they can make it look pretty too. I have shared my Google assignments calendar with them so they can see what is due every day. They get updates each time a teacher updates his or her web page or blog. Students can check on the status of their virtual online projects and find current events all on one web page.

For more suggestion on ways to use iGoogle in your classroom you can visit iGoogle for educators. -MEGAN CURLEY

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