We’ve recently created accounts for every student at Google apps for education. We registered a new domain for this at www.rickyschool.com . This provides e-mail, google docs, google start page, google calendar and google sites for all users. I’m still not 100% sure what it will be used for long term but I am convinced there are so many potential applications. Tom Barrett’s blog gives many of his examples of use and I’m sure few of these were thought of by the developers or even by Tom when he first started.
My first week with google sites has been rather inspiring. It’s a nifty and simple tool for building websites. It’s so easy to use and it’s got loads of features built in. It has plenty of great, pretty, ready made templates (all fully customisable). It also makes it really easy to embed google docs, youtube videos and loads of other widgets. Apart from ease of use it’s also collaborative. If you have a school wide google apps setup, pages are by default editable by all users (though it’s very easy to turn this off). There are four great ways I can envision google sites being used for schools.
For students to create great looking websites for school projects.
For students to work collaboratively on school projects.
For students to create their own personal online spaces.
For students to have online eportfolios of work.
Though google sites is a potentially great and simple solution to creating eportfolios (there is a ready made template available when a new page is created called “filing cabinet” for placing files in) I am most excited about number 3. It’s my ‘dream’ to have a VLE that is customisable and editable by students. Sadly this is very hard to achieve as most VLEs are teacher run and allowing students to run their own personal spaces individually can be very tricky to set up. (Though I have seen some commercial VLEs that allow this although not without problems). Google sites let students create sites about whatever they want and when a site is created a user can label the page with one or more categories. When users view a list of all sites they see a list of all categories and can choose ones they are interested in. Though we’ll have to train students to use sites sensibly and monitor any problems this could be the online student space I have been looking for.
Google sites, lots of potential for teaching and learning but even more potential for students creating their own content and personal space.
To see a little more about google sites take a look at this short screencast introduction I made earlier.