Thursday, April 28, 2011

Google Sites Template Going Well

The one thing I really wanted to get done over Easter was to create a template in Google Sites to use as an online eportfolio for students work.  I really want the students to have the ability to easily share their work.

Previously they had created websites, but they really seemed to be more of an exercise in creating websites, than an opportunity to share their work.  In fact, most of them did not seem to share any real work at all.  Here is a quick example of 5 sites:

Earlier in the year when I got a Google Apps for Education account set up for the school I really thought Blogger itself may have been the way to go.  It had just been added, along with a number of other Google programs, to the GAfE account, and it is extremely easy to use.  Students could set up a page for each year they were in school, and blog about what they currently doing.  Unfortunatley, for some reason, if we tried to set up to many blogs at one time we ran into a problem where Blogger started needing students to validate themselves with a cellphone to prove that they were not spammers.  This meant that either I had to set up all the accounts myself, at a rate of about 6-10 a day, or the students would NEED a cellphone to get started.  While many had cellphones, there was no way I could require them in order to do an activity.  I finally did get some set up, but without strong direction from me (because I was pretty sure we weren't going to use them) or the teachers (who had no idea what to do with them) they degenerated into a mess of random youtube postings.  To be honest, I tried using weebly, which does have a student account, but I find their interface somewhat difficult to use, and I had really hoped to link everything up with their Google Apps accounts.

Here is an example of some of the sites they created with Blogger and Weebly:
So then we move to Google Sites.  Hopefully I won't have the problem with it that I encountered with Blogger, and the need to authenticate accounts with cell phones after several students. I might be able to test that out at home, but I need to set up some accounts first... Just thought of that.  Regardless, one great thing about Google Sites is that I am able to set up a basic template for the students to work with.  After the log in they can select the template and get started right away.  This will give all of the sites some basic structure, but because the themes and fonts can still be changed the students will still be able to personalize their sites to reflect themselves.  Here is the test portfolio I am working with:

It gives a location at the front for a sort of blog posting, though no comments can be left.  And there is a page for each grade level.  I currently envision it working in this way.  Students would not really start using this until Grade 4.  One of the first things they would have to learn to do is take their work from Grade 1, 2, and 3, and then post it on their site, filling it out and giving it some content.  Then for the next 3 years, 4, 5, and 6, students would just add to it as they finished work.  As I hope to incorporate Google Docs into their workflow as well that should make it easy to slide the typed work from there over to the site. 

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