Google+ Education: Part 2

Back when I talked about participatory cultures in a post entitled Moving Education Online, I mentioned Google Sites as a resource for teachers. Google Sites is great because you can easily make a class website using the template called Classroom site. While building a website from scratch is intimidating for many, creating a website from this Google Sites template is not hard as there are directions for customizing the various sections. Some sections included in the template are homework assignments, contact me, class announcements, reading list, class photos, and word of the week. If you don’t need a section, just delete it! It’s that simple.

There are many benefits to having a class website. You can post assignments, deadlines, schedules, and more all in one location that students can access from anywhere. This eliminates excuses like forgetting deadlines or losing the syllabus that was handed out on the first day.

A class website is another opportunity to engage students and form a sense of community, for example, by including polls, discussion questions, or class achievements students can become more involved in their education. Additionally, such a site gives parents easy access to class information, which could encourage greater parent involvement.

I was prepared to create one of these sites for my classes this year in China, but Google sites are blocked in China, so be aware that your location may impact accessibility. Additionally, if students have limited Internet access, a class website would be of little use. Every teaching situation is unique and it’s important to know your students. Having said that, Google Sites is wonderful and, combined with other websites like Kidblog, gives teachers more opportunities to interact with students outside the classroom.

Do you have a class website? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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2 Responses to Google+ Education: Part 2

  1. Salma Dosi says:

    Dear readers,
    I have just finished a 5 week online course with Professor Laura G. Holland at University of Oregon. I feel I can try the Classroom site template on Google Drive with my IB Diploma students in Dar es Salaam,Tanzania. I will have to collect their e-mail addresses and then provide ID codes and passwords for them to be able to open the line.
    On the template I hope to keep on the following sections:- announcements, assignments, reading lists, contacts, grades and class photos. The first group assignment will be on:-
    1. The plight of Street children 2. Child Labor 3. Education for Girls. We will join discussions together to reflect on the readings and cultural practices in Tanzania. The second assignment will be on a debate:- 1. Cell phones Should be Allowed in School. 2. Teacher/Parent Meetings are a Waste of Time. 3. School Uniform Should be Abolished. This will be an essay that will be used later for oral presentation.
    All this is a dream, but I intend to keep it. If wishes were horses Salma would ride. Please wish me luck.
    Salma Dosi

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Hi Salma. It’s great to hear that you are considering a Google site for your students. Those assignments you proposed sound very interesting. I hope they’re more than just a dream and wish you the best of luck.

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