Create a Digital Hub for Your Classroom with Google Sites

Kyle PaceFor teachers in my district — and in many others — Google Sites is quickly becoming the preferred way to create robust, media-rich websites for classrooms, grade levels and departments. Because this free web design tool is integrated with Google Apps for Education, educators can collaboratively create websites from anywhere.

If you’re considering giving Google Sites a try, the following tutorial will help get you started.

How to Get Started with Google Sites

  1. Sign into your Google Apps for Education account. You’ll need to make sure Google Sites is enabled by your domain administrator.
  2. Click on “Sites” in the black bar across the top of the page, or type sites.google.com into your browser’s address bar.
  3. Click the “Create” button on the left to begin building your site.
  4. Choose whether to start with a completely blank new site or select one of the many templates Google provides.

When you build a site through Google Apps for Education, you can create and publish templates to your domain’s template gallery for others in your school or district to use. This has come in handy for us as we transition teachers to using Google Sites, as it gives them a starting point with some content (such as copyright and external links disclaimers) and a site structure already in place so they don’t have to start completely from scratch.

Tips for Collaborative Editing

If you’ve ever worked jointly with someone on a Google Doc, you know the collaborative power it holds. The same can be said about Google Sites. Educators within a grade level or department can easily build a site together and share editing responsibilities.

Owner vs. editor: Once the site has been created, the “owner” can then share it with appropriate people. Keep in mind that when you share your site with others, their default role is “editor,” which means they can edit any existing content or add new content to any of the pages. If you want to give them full control over the site’s structure and other settings, you’ll need to change their role to “owner.”

Simultaneous editing: If two people try to edit the same page of a Google Site at once, the second person will be told that it’s currently being edited by another person and will have the option to either wait until the first editor is done or “break the lock” to override the other person’s edits. (I’d just be patient and wait.)

Integrating Other Google Apps into Your Site

One of my favorite features of Google Sites is how easily it integrates with other Google apps. For example, you can include a Google Calendar on your site, and whenever you add an event from your computer, tablet or phone, it will instantly update your website. It’s also easy to embed forms, slides and other media.

YouTube is another popular app. Teachers really like being able to find great videos on YouTube and then quickly add them to the website for students to access to later — or to easily post videos they have created. This could be used for review, remediation or to enrich a lesson.

For more ideas on customizing your Google Site, you can browse some examples from teachers in my district.

Your classroom website can quickly become a digital hub for students and parents, providing a home for curricular resources, videos, announcements, important documents and more. Every classroom needs a digital presence, and Google Sites makes it easy to create one.

Kyle Pace is an instructional technologist and Google Certified Teacher in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Connect with him on Twitter via @kylepace, and discover more ed tech tips on his blog.

One thought on “Create a Digital Hub for Your Classroom with Google Sites

  1. In regards to the user experience,I like Google Sites in the desktop version, but not to navigate it on a tablet or mobile phone. I have found that if you are a school that is iPad 1:1, then using Google Sites is not the best platform to choose in order to do create this digital “hub”. Instead I would use iTunes U in order to create the same digital collection of resources.

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