Google as a tool for lifelong learning

I have just set myself up a Google Personalised Home Page. I was interested in this because the idea seemed to have lots of potential as a tool for lifelong/professional learning if they get it right. At the moment the features are limited in that I can only select from 11 pre-determined RSS feeds (Beeb, Weather, Slashdot, etc.), but I can at least drag and drop to arrange them as I chose.

What I want is a page where I can aggregate all of my online stuff. For me this would include blasting straight through to my FIrstClass accounts (won’t happen because FC is not open standards), integrate my personal Blog (can happen), add other RSS feeds, collect interesting URL and other resources, pick up my various mail accounts (mac.com, Ultralab), host discussion forums, link through to online courses that I am participating in at Universities around the world (could happen), and link to my LAMS account, and see all of this on my yet to be purchased top-of-the-range mobile phone. None of this new or original thinking I know, but the potential for a lifelong learning tool with the notions of personalization and choice at the heart is powerful.

However, the important part for me is the granularity in all of this. I want three spaces:
– for me only, this is private (email, account information, etc)
– for me and my friends, I can control who has access (a place to work collaboratively on projects, this could be with Ultraversity researchers or colleagues)
– for me and the www, a free for all where anyone can communicate, leave resources, take resources to re-use and re-purpose, read my Blog and things I have found that I think are interesting – a shared Kete!

Much money is been spent around the world on developing national solutions to the above, but do we need it? Will Google (or a competitor) end up being the lifelong learning tool of choice in the same way as it is the search engine of choice. True, it is a commercial product that generates revenues through advertising which is a potential downside. However, if I buy into the Government developed solutions I am also buying into bureaucracy and control and generally less than responsive and nimble service provision and development.

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