Wednesday, January 25, 2012

iGoogle: A personal, custom dashboard

Recently I've been frustrated with wanting to embed Google gadgets into a Sites page. You get this really easy script but Sites won't (easily) accept scripts in their pages. As I was playing around in some gadgets I had embedded in my templates, I happened to click on "Add this gadget to iGoogle" and my life changed ( a bit ).
It throws that gadget that I only can view into my personal iGoogle page full of gadgets. Now that I have a dashboard that can pull from various data sources, one gadget can be used to display that data set in iGoogle...this is getting really techie sounding, so let me summarize in teacher language:
Students take a chapter 8 test, in my dashboard (see it here) I set it display student growth from the pretest to the chapter 8 test. Since I have the chapter 8 test selected, this will update my graphs on my iGoogle page. Next chapter, when I change to view the chapter 9 results, my iGoogle page will update as well. You can also make separate tabs to sort your gadgets by function. Most charts in my WiFli Response System are gadgets so I have a tab to view those as well.
The coolest part? You can share an iGoogle page with others (like people that teach the same courses) and they will see the graphs too as long as they have view rights to the data it is displaying--a great visual dashboard for collaborative team discussions. I also have my collaborative team agenda (see a post on it here) set to use gadgets now and those can be included in an iGoogle page as well. Some other gadgets I'm using that aren't mine are a weather forecast, recent google documents feed, gmail inbox and calendars.
Things to note: 
By default, the gadgets update every 5 minutes. If you want sooner you can get it down to 1 minute (still better than the 24 hour wait many have to accept by current edtech companies that make dashboards).
Have the tab open you are wanting the gadget to go to. I've had trouble changing a gadget to another tab once it's there.

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