I recently signed-up with Conduit and created a nifty toolbar that anyone can install. My students are my target audience for this one and I was quickly able to customize it to fit their needs.
Each toolbar has a bunch of options that you can add, however because mine is for my students I tried to make it as simple as possible. Here is the result:
There are some very cool features that I would like to point out…
1. See the “Messages” button? This allows me to send a message and it will be broadcast directly into the toolbar. All I have to do is sign-in to my Conduit account and send the message. I really think this feature will be very useful as many of my students either forget, or just simply don’t, check their e-mail (I’m working on training them, but it’s a long process :)).
2. With the e-mail situation in mind I added a button to the toolbar that will go and grab your e-mail at whatever intervals you specify. I happen to have mine set to check every minute and it seems to be doing a good job because as I type I just saw the number jump up by one. It is also very customizable; I have been able to add multiple e-mail accounts to the mix.
3. The little house button will take my students directly to my Lahaise’s Lair website (which is really “their” website). Again, that is completely customizable as far as icon and link. In fact, you can even upload your own image to use instead of the one they provide.
4. I have also added another button with links to important sites they will be frequently visiting (i.e., the class Ning, Turnitin.com, etc.).
5. The last button, web 2.0 tools, is something I just added. It is actually an add-on, sort of like a widget. It isn’t very configurable, so I haven’t decided if I will keep it.
The Conduit website seems to be targeted toward business users, but I really see this as a valuable, and cool, tool to use with students. I find that my students “forget” things, so the more tools I can offer them the better. And while I have it set-up around my website, you don’t have to have a website in order to use this tool. It is so configurable the possibilities are endless.
Wow! I almost forgot the best part. It’s FREE!
BTW…I used my “own” icons and uploaded them to the Conduit site. Very cool that they allow so much customization for free.
So whether you have a class website or not, I think your students will love their very own customized toolbar.