Google Sites is a free website creation and hosting platform that offers the possibility to create simple and professional websites very quickly, without any prior knowledge in terms of code or programming. The platform offers many themes and templates, which integrate seamlessly with other Google tools.
N.B.: To create a website with Google Sites, you need a Google account.
How it works:
Sylvain Duclos, a math teacher at CSS des Navigateurs and a specialist in technopedagogy (1 App a Day with Sylvain Duclos), offers an introduction to the Google Sites tool in the following video. In it, he discusses the different features of the platform (banner, settings, interactive content insertion, pages, subpages, hidden pages,...).
N.B.: In the Google for Education Teacher Center, you have access to the "First Steps with Google Sites" guide. In it, you'll learn how to use Google Sites to share your students' work with your school's community, create a portal for your classroom, and organize online resources.
-The Magic of the Microsite
During this (2020) workshop from RECIT DP (Human Development Domain), Alexandre Chenette, Marjorie Paradis, and Annie Turbide outline the benefits of creating a microsite using Google Sites so that we can maximize its educational use.
Lynne Rodier, a lecturer at the University of Quebec in the Outaouais region and a consultant in history and heritage, presents the various advantages of the pedagogical use of Google Sites on her site "History, Heritage, and Education".
In particular, she tells us that the ability for teachers to create a website for their classrooms can become a place to incorporate lecture notes and all the materials needed to conduct classroom activities. She sees advantages over traditional PowerPoint presentations because this way the lecture notes are accessible to students in the public space.
They can then view their notes online and revisit material seen in class. The teacher, on the other hand, can add hyperlinks leading students to the various assignments to be completed or to related pages in connection with the subject.
Lynne Rodier goes on to explain that Google Sites encourages collaboration between peers. Multiple people can collaborate in creating a site in real time. Students can also create their own site as well for the purpose of presentation, while adhering to the rules and policies of publishing in a public space, being mindful of copyright and citing sources.
As part of an exercise to write an article summary, she noticed that almost all the students had chosen the one about serious games among the choice of texts they had to comment on. She therefore drew on this practice to develop learning activities in written production, with a narrative thread running through the session.
This required students to create several administrative documents while creating a fictional administrative entity based on their interests. Students were then assigned a site in Google Sites in which they were to complete all of their learning activities.
Here are some examples:
Customize the site according to their fictitious entity's mission;
Develop a detailed organizational chart of their entity on CmapTool;
Create a brochure (paper document) composed of elements that will eventually be included in their fictitious entity's promotional page;
Make a promotional page for their entity in a digital portfolio;
For the hiring theme: Write various administrative documents such as a job offer a letter of application, a letter of acceptance and rejection.
To more accurately represent the realities of the professional environment, she included the initial instructions for the assignments on the site. This allowed students to see them from the beginning of the session, but she had fun adding an extra layer of difficulty: she added "surprise" instructions during the session, without changing the deadlines.
- France Lavoie
Still in the article "Challenging student projects with Google Apps Education!" (2015), France Lavoie then a teacher in Social Research Techniques (SRT) at Rosemont College, explains that in the program students are frequently required to complete team projects, sometimes even projects that involve the entire group.
So concerned about providing her students with a versatile skill set to ease their transition into the world of work, she tells us that the digital portfolio project lent itself perfectly to this goal and that she decided to turn to Google Sites because of its simplicity and ease of use.
Building a professional portfolio is a relatively complex process for a student who is not yet familiar with the realities of his or her future professional environment, so the portfolio project was integrated within the courses of the SRT program, she writes, so that students would punctually deposit material into it and amass collections throughout their studies that would demonstrate their journey and progress (learning portfolio).
During their final semester of study, students initiate further reflection and choose which of the collected items they will incorporate into their professional portfolio.
My opinion of Google Sites
In the end Google Sites proves to be an excellent tool for collaboratively populating a common place by organizing a set of online resources as part of, for example, a class site. It is an opportunity given to the teacher to better organize class materials and enrich them by adding multimedia elements, while allowing students to access them both in and out of class.
But its most interesting use remains, in my opinion, the possibility given to students to build a personalized portfolio that will allow them to collect in an organized way, work, reflections and comments on a digital medium. This collection will thus allow students to document and reflect on their progress while testifying to their learning.
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