Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Google Education Edition

Our school district recently signed up for Google Apps Education Edition which gives our staff and students common access to Sites, Gmail and Apps. It's being rolled out first with three of our high schools in order to build up a cadre of teachers with some expertise. This cadre will then help spread the word to everyone else. I asked (begged and pleaded sounds so unmanly so I went with asked) to get our high school included in the pilot program.

Why was I excited to be involved in the pilot program? I wanted all my kids to have an easily accessible school email account which this program allows. I wanted them to have an easy way to post web pages (without any html background) and possibly build their own blog. I think Sites will make this possible.

I jumped right in and built a support site for my Multimedia classes. I'll be introducing this application to my building staff in the near future, so, I wanted to get some pages up and working and get comfortable with the interface before I had to stand in front of my peers and answer questions. Here are my thoughts so far:

  • It is easy to get a site up and running.
  • Sometimes frustrating if you are used to creating your own pages or using a more advanced web editor (like Dreamweaver). Doubt this will be a problem for the majority of staff or students.
  • Took some experimenting to get the hang of changing the different page elements. I'd like a help page that better describes things like column widths, header sizes, logo size, etc.
  • Being able to embed a Google Calendar is a plus even though I still tend to have problems with maintaining multiple calendars. I seem to constantly be posting something to the wrong calendar. Maybe it's my age? Maybe it's my color disablity?
  • The ability to put up documents for download is a big plus. We had this capability before, but this simplifies the process.
  • Interface makes it easy to update/change information on my pages. I am experimenting with keeping a running list of assignments and activities for my class. Ease of use may make it possible for me to do this on a daily basis.

I'm waiting for student access to be completed, at which point, they will be creating their own pages. That experience will give me a better feel for the pitfalls and advantages. I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Here's a brief video introduction to Sites from Google.

[Image: Created by Al Gunn: Based on "Cliff jumping in S. Korea"; Flickr: Uploaded on May 17, 2005 by bzo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bzo/14417290/ and Google logo captured from www.Google.com]

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