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.