This past February Google released a great new tool for educators, students, business’s and all around website needing folks. This new creation is Google Sites. Google Sites claims it fills the need of sharing a group website, which seems to be part wiki, part blog and part modular website.
I found Sites to be pretty easy to use, especially if you are familiar with Google’s interface for it’s other products, such as Blogger and Docs. There are several different templates, each with additional color and font themes that can give your site a customized look. You can easily upload/embed files of all sorts and create unique page templates or such features as announcements, calendars countdowns, links and other useful tools. Google pushes the Web 2.0 concept of sharing and collaborating by allowing multiple authors and owners. This is handy for a teacher wishing to allow other teachers, or even students, to modify the web page. However, this is also where I was both surprised and let down.
I indeed found Google Sites to be part wiki and part blog, but sadly, not enough of either to make it worth my while. I was excited to see that most pages included a “comments” section on the bottom. I soon found out though, that when I logged out, the comments section became locked. This essentially means that you can allow either everyone the ability to change the entire site or the inability to comment at all. I was hoping that viewers could simply comment on the bottom, without being able to tweak too much on the site. If anyone has found a way around this, I’d love to know. Other than that, Sites will be a great option for educators wishing to create their own site for free.
Check out the overview video here.
Additionally, perhaps some readers are familiar with Google Sites’ sister creation, Google Pages. Google Pages is a free website creation tool that allows the user to customize templates, arrange content and get a pretty professional feel to a simple website. Check it out too!
Final note, I hesitated on writing this article until now, as Google Sites was formerly only available to educators with a Google Apps for education domain. This week, it became public for all. If you still haven’t looked into Google Apps for Education though, stay tuned for an upcoming post about a great suite that transformed my classroom and can hopefully do the same for yours.