Google Sites vs. course management systems

Well, it’s probably too soon to say “vs.,” but if I were a faculty member who wanted to make a quick, easy, low-risk, low-maintenance site for my class, I’d definitely be interested in Google Sites. Here’s what I’d find most intriguing:

  • I don’t have to know HTML.
  • I can limit membership to just the people I choose–the whole world doesn’t get to see my Google Site. (Unless I want them to.)
  • I can collaborate with other instructors at my institution (Google Sites lets me invite others with the same email domain.)
  • I get some very groovy Google Site themes, without having to wrangle a single graphic.
  • I can create and insert spreadsheets, documents, slideshows, images, presentations, and YouTube or Google Video videos into my page with a click.
  • I can insert Google Gadgets (like Google calendar, a mini web search, a stock ticker, RSS feeds, or Pac Man) into my page with a click.
  • Users can comment on my pages automatically, the way they can on a wiki or a blog.
  • I can change the look and feel or layout of the site (where the navigation sidebar appears, for example) with a click, or a drag-and-drop.

What can’t I do? Well, I can’t associate my students’ IDs and grades with the site, so the online gradebook would have to be a separate tool. That might be a killer. But for a lightweight, free, easy-to-administer course site, Google Sites gets a lot right.

Want to see what a Google Site might look like? Here’s an example of a K-12 classroom site (mentally modify for higher ed), and here’s a sample team project site.

One thought on “Google Sites vs. course management systems

  1. scott says:

    Plus no quizzing, no secure individual drop boxes for homework submission, and no automatic ad/drop membership from the student registration system on campus.

    I think Google Sites gets a lot right, yes. And here’s hoping that the leading LMS developers are paying attention. But it’s not a whole LMS in its own right. Yet.

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