Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HB235: Creating Webpages with Google Sites

PowerPoint is the most misused tool in ed tech. How many PowerPoints have you see where the student has tried to cram all the information they know onto the slide, then completely neglect their speaking?

Don't get me wrong - cramming information into a product has its place in the classroom. Just not in Powerpoint. If you want to give students the opportunity to synthesize what they know in a variety of formats (written, visual, etc), then consider asking them to make a website.

This topic is a straightforward, simple one. Google Sites lets any Google Apps user create their own website. Teachers can use it to make a webpage for their class (although at AISB we already use Focus for that), and students can quickly create informational products that synthesize text, images, maps, videos, and more. Since Sites integrates with Google Drives, it's easy for students to keep their work organized. Furthermore, Sites allows you to invite other users to edit pages, making it easy for students to collaborate on projects.

When using Google Sites in the classroom, consider the following points:

  1. Websites are designed to convey information, so Google Sites are best used for student projects and eportfolios. In fact, Google Sites are a great way to replace PowerPoints; students often try to cram all the information they know into a PowerPoint, whereas doing it as a Google Site would give them more room to work with.
  2. For ongoing reflection (i.e. on a weekly basis), a blog will have a more attractive format and be easier to manage
  3. Your students will mostly use the “Web page” type of page
  4. If you are assigning a web page as a group project, tell each group member to write “by: <their name>” at the bottom of each page they do, so that you know who did what. Google Sites won’t tell you which user modified which page.
  5. You won’t be able to grade them on the site. Print their pages if you want to mark them up (there are some web programs that will let you do this, but I’ve found them to be of varied reliability).

Useful Links

HB235 session notes; includes basic usage instructions
Example student-created site about New York State
Apps User Group presentation on using Google Sites at school (relates more to using Sites for teachers to create class websites rather than students using them for projects, but still useful)

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