Google Sites

By Kerry Wisdom, Technology Resource Checkout Graduate Assistant

Google Sites is a customizable application that enables users to create their own website within minutes and also allows them to collaborate and share information. Google Sites is a recent addition to the Google family and was actually started out by JotSpot which was acquired by Google in 2006. Google Sites enables the participants with a Google Account to create a website with just a few clicks and offers an easily manageable tool to handle related aspects.  Google Sites have given participants a way to quickly build their own websites with no HTML knowledge required, making it relatively easy for anyone without a technical background to build a simple website. Users have the ability to select page backgrounds from a collection of designer themes. Google is known for its extremely user-friendly interfaces, and Google Sites carries on that reputation. Because Google Sites is owned by Google, users have access to seamless integration with other Google sites, including Picasa, YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Maps and Google Docs.

Each Google Sites web page account holds up to 100 MB of space. Google Sites can also be shared with a group of users, so that information can be updated from a variety of sources. In under an hour, a user can have a functional website up and running. The websites may be simple to use but they offer some very advanced features. You can change the fonts, text size, color and headings. You can also add images as well as video from YouTube or Google Video. Google Sites is not only ad-free, but it’s free period. It never gives off the impression of being a “free” site, especially if one uses a purchase domain name. Users are not required to pay a monthly fee to set up their website.

Features

  • One can have control of the people who can view or edit the pages of the websites
  • The user has the ability to  print, delete, move, subscribe to site changes and site sharing
  • With Google Sites it is possible to use the toolbar to change font styles and sizes, insert images, and add links.
  • One can invite others to help in editing the website, by entering the Google e-mail addresses.
  • Google Sites provides an auto saving feature.  Every few seconds during editing, a message is displayed, informing the user of saving of latest changes.

Advantages

  • Free.
  • Simple interface.
  • Lots of gadgets to add to your pages (Gadgets including eHow sticky notes, scientific calculator and keyboard shortcuts).
  • Saves previous versions of your site.

Disadvantages

  • Google logo at the top of all your pages.
  • No true wiki capability that would let anyone edit a page.
  • Limited page-design options.

Uses of Google Sites in Education

With the easy integration of all the Google products and a simple site creation process, teachers can make Google Sites a simple, teacher-driven learning management system. Teachers can use Google Sites to create a class site and edit it the same way you would edit a document; in that, no technical expertise required. Your class site can bring together all the information you want to share with your colleagues and students, including docs, calendars, photos, videos and attachments.

Here are some of benefits of using Google Sites as a basic learning management system:

  • Managed by teachers
  • Easy integration with all Google tools including calendars, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, maps, and video.
  • Include a variety of educational and interactive gadgets using the Sites gadget directory.
  • Measure participation with revision history, recent site activity, or page notifications within Sites.
  • Create flexible designs and layouts without needing any knowledge of html code
  • Collaborative environment for teachers and students.

Tech Tip:  Embedding Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and YouTube Videos

By:  Josh Butcher, Interactive Multimedia Lab/Technology Resource Checkout Manager

Within Google Sites you can embed Google Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms or even YouTube or Google Videos on any of your pages!  The inserted object will be view-only to the public.  However, when the contents of the objects are updated from its source and published, it is updated automatically within your site.  Anyone with collaborator access to your site will be able to view a link under each embedded object that will allow them to pop out an editable version of the object.

To embed a Google Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, or Form follow the steps below:

  1. On the page that you want to embed one of these files click the button located in the upper right of your page to open the site editor.
  2. Place the cursor where you would like to insert the object.
  3. From the Insert menu, select the object you wish to insert whether it be a Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet or Form.

  4. An Insert… pop up box will appear where you will need to choose your Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, or Form to embed.  Choose the file and click the Select button at the bottom.

  5. Another pop up box will appear giving you more specific options related to the file that you have selected.  Here I have selected a Google Document and it gives me options to put a border around the document, include the Title or rename the title and adjust the height and width.  Once you have chosen these options click the Save button.

  6. The document will then be embedded wherever your cursor was placed.  While still in the site editor you will just see a placeholder for the document, you won’t see the document appear just yet.  Within this document placeholder you will have some other options related to alignment (left, right, center) and the option to turn wrapping on or off which would wrap other text or objects around this document.

  7. When you are done editing the page and want to see what the page looks like in real time, click the  button in the upper right corner to save the page.  It will then take you back to the Google Sites viewer where you can really see what your page looks like now with the embedded document.

To insert a YouTube Video follow steps 1 and 2 above and then do the following:

  1. Go to the Insert menu and choose Video > YouTube.

  2. The Insert YouTube Video pop up box will appear.  Here you will need to paste the URL of the YouTube video that you want to embed.  It also gives you some display options like including a border and the title of the video.  Click the Save button when you are done.

  3. Again you will see a placeholder for the video and will have options to align it and choose whether to turn wrapping on or off.  To view the embedded video click the Save button in the upper right corner.
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