CROSSPOSTED. Updates will appear at Teaching with Canvas blog. And no, this is not really a post about Canvas per se... it's a post about a great tool to use to fill a gap in the Canvas tool ecosystem: if you want your students to create websites, as I always do (the power of connected learning!), then I have good things to say about the new Google Sites. This might be of special interest to people who are using Google Suite at their schools.
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This post is to report that things are going really well with the NEW Google Sites, far better than I ever expected. I need a reliable, free web publishing option to recommend to my students, and for the past seven years I've been using Google Sites (before that I used Netscape Composer and its successor, Mozilla Seamonkey, until my university abruptly stopped supporting student web spaces in 2010). If students want to use Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Tumblr, etc., that is fine with me, but I choose just one platform where I provide detailed step-by-step tech support, and for seven years that platform was Google Sites.
So, it was with considerable trepidation that I switched to the new Google Sites this semester... but now that the students' websites are up and running for the semester, I can say that I am very happy about it! The new Google Sites approach to web design is not something that would appeal to me personally, but it sure does appeal to my students. The sites look like websites are "supposed" to look!
Plus, it has proved far easier to support than the old Google Sites. With the new system, I've managed so far just to provide three support pages: Create a Site, Images, and Sections. That's all! I may or may not need to add a page to help with navigation, but so far that is going well and the students have not had any questions (as opposed to the nightmare that was the old Google Sites navigation system).
I'll have more to say about this in a few weeks as students add more and more pages to their sites! I've got 40 websites going this semester, which is about half of my students; the other half opted to just do their projects inside their existing blogs. That's about typical, but my guess is that next Fall, when the students see these nice-looking websites from the Spring, I am guessing more of them will want to try creating their own (the Google Sites of the past did not exactly inspire in that way as you can see in the archive).
It's all about peer learning: thanks to the brave pioneers of this semester, I will have student-created sites to use as examples with next semester's students!
And just to provide a glimpse, here are a few screenshots and links to some of the sites so far; as the weeks go on, each student will be adding three or four story pages to go with the current homepage and Introduction page; here's how it all works: Student Projects.
This is a project about the love life of Pegasus the flying horse:
This student is collecting lesson materials to use when she begins teaching school next year:
This is a project about the proverbial nine lives of cats:
This is a project on Indian Epics stories retold in the American Wild West:
This student has traveled in India, so her project is a food and travel guide:
This project will be using medical urban legends from Snopes.com retold as Grey's Anatomy stories: