Reflections of my Journey with Subject Google Sites

What is the purpose of the site?

This may sound like a really obvious question, with a really obvious answer attached, but it actually needs some serious thought. There definitely isn’t a one size fits all scenario around this, although there are some basics. What information should you absolutely include on the site? How would this information best be accessed (mostly from the point of view of the student, but possibly also by other stakeholders such as parents etc)? What layout would best allow for the information to be communicated and accessed?

Print Media Google Site version 1

Gosh I still remember the hideousness of this site. It was the first Google Site I’d put together for my (then) courses. It was back in 2012. When I put the site together, I thought it was the business! Um, no! Think of the first time you put together a presentation, and you found all of the transitions, so decided that you’d use them all. You play your presentation, but noone has any idea what you were trying to say because they’re dizzy from all of the transitions. That was me and my first site. Text. EVERYWHERE. Not the greatest communication tool. Well there was nothing wrong with the tool, it was how I was trying to use it eg. take the info out of my head, and place it in text form, on a site. The feedback came back from students, by means of “Miss, what are we doing?” a lot!

Digital Technologies Google Site version 2

Fast forward to 2014, and then there’s a new site. But have I learnt my lesson? Not exactly. The site had a new look, still hideous!, but also had added extras. As well as what the previous site had, I also had embedded my calendars into the site, and started dabbling with those as communication tools. Calendars themselves have actually turned out to be a really effective way of enabling rewindable learning to occur in my classes, but not when the calendars were embedded into a mass of colour and text destruction. By now, it became clear that I needed to wipe the slate clean, and get some meaningful feedback from students on what worked and what didn’t in terms of website layout for them to access learning resources.

DigiTech Google Site version 3

So the current model is the DigiTech site. Minimal text on the home page, and trying (I did say trying) to keep the tabs to a minimum. It’s always a work in progress, but it’s probably the most user friendly of the three versions so far. It works very much like a landing pad to all other learning materials and resources. These resources include learning activities by year level, careers information, DigiTech Communities (blogs and G+), and other websites that directly relate to the subject area that I deliver. Calendars are embedded for all year levels, which include hyperlinks to various learning activities relevant to each lesson of the day. Again, another example of a landing pad.

Things to consider when putting together a Google Site for your Students

The minimalistic effect is usually the best! Not always, but usually.

Stakeholder feedback is vital. If it doesn’t suit the needs of the end user, cut your losses, and rebuild something, considering what the stakeholder needs and wants.

Be creative, but be smart. If it functions properly, but doesn’t look great, then it doesn’t work. If it looks great, but doesn’t function properly, then it STILL doesn’t work.

Good luck!

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