Monday, December 22, 2008

Three Visual Start Pages

Visual start pages seem to be all the rage right now, though I am waiting for one that allows at least step-scanning (tab to move through the choices and click or enter to select) to try in the classroom. (That would be because of the fact that I cannot install a touch screen onto the only internet connect computer due to admin privilidge issues.) Anyways, if you are lucky enough to have a touch screen or interactive whiteboard with internet you might want to check out these three options for visual start pages:
  • Symbaloo - Symbaloo has many preset, pre-designed pages for those who use common applications like Gmail, Google, Box, Twitter, Remember the Milk, etc. However you can customize a start page for your classroom. I like that Symbaloo allows me to add my own images or symbols to the page, but I would have liked an integrated icon search engine like on MyClusta as well. I dislike the search bar always being in the middle, but I might be missing some vital step. Try my functioning sample or my screen shot below.
  • MyClusta - Like Symbaloo, MyClusta allows you to create a visual start screen with icons for your most commonly used site. It has an integrated search for icons, but doesn't allow you to upload symbols. In general it seems to be simpler to use than Symbaloo, but I still seem to like the visual appeal of symbaloo better.
  • Tizmos - Tizmos is another visual start page, but it uses thumbnails of pages instead of icons - saving a lot of time in the set up. My Tizmos page is here.
All told I have to say I would rank Tizmos as the easiest to put together, but least visually appealing and Symbaloo the toughest to put together and most visually appealling. MyClusta is in the middle of both in both areas. However, I am still holding out for one that scans. Pretty please?


  1. Thanks for your review of these. I get frustrated when I hear your comment about not being able to get a touch screen on a computer in your room because of admin rights. I get so frustrated when education serves IT instead of the other way around!
    We need a program like the old Click it! from Intellitools but for a web page where you can set up hot spots and then save them in a bookmark companion for that site...anyone?
    Have a wonderful Christmas break and thanks for all your terrific posts and valuable information...

  2. This is such an exciting time - more and more "mainstream" technology immediately accessible (or almost - for your switch or non touch screen users) for our special needs population. And with mass production of touchscreens - prices are way down so more can afford! I was at grocery self check out with son - and he reached up when the icons for food came up to identify the produce to weigh - no training needed - he probably thought that had been programmed just for him! He can also easily access my husband's Iphone.
    Thanks for these links - I hadn't seen them - only the "Zac Browser" a while back.


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