Update to Science4CE using new Google sites

For the last couple of months I have been working on updates to the Science4CE website, to go alongside the new revision book I have written, that fits in with the revised Common Entrance Science syllabus.
The existing Science4CE website ran on WordPress, with links to resources I created and hosted on Cloudschool. The resources hosted on Cloudschool was always meant to be a temporary measure as I wanted my resources on my own site, but in a easier to edit format than that which WordPress can provide. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used WordPress to build websites numerous times, but I wanted a simpler, modern layout tool to present the revision resources on Science4CE. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the new Google sites!
The new Google sites is a great tool and I thoroughly enjoyed building my Science4CE 13+ resources site with it, and I am very pleased with its overall outcome. It isn’t without its limitations though, a main one being the current inability to map your own domain name to a site or page you build with Google sites. Hence my decision to keep and redesign the home page of my original WordPress site, and then link it to the resources site built with Google sites.
What do I like about the new Google sites?
There are several things I really like about the new Google sites:

  • A site is just another file in your Google Drive – just locate it in Drive, double click on it and you’re in it ready to edit – simple and much more straightforward that with the old sites
  • The layout tools are simple to use – click on the icon for the type of content you want, text, image, video, Google doc, embedded content etc, and a box for or containing the content will appear, ready to be resized and/or placed in the correct location
  • Theme and styling adjustments are limited – this may seem a negative, but when you want to get a site up and running quickly, you just want it to look cool and professional, without spending too long thinking about colour and style
  • There is a very small learning curve – a complete novice could learn to build a good looking web page in no time at all – that really can’t be said of WordPress.
  • The ability to view what the site will look like on desktop browsers, tablets and phones, at any point whilst creating the site, so you can get it looking the way you want before publishing.

What don’t I like about Google sites?
There are a few issues the people at Google need to sort out to really move the new sites forward:

  • As already mentioned, the domain name mapping is necessary
  • The ability to create a table on a page, which could hold different items in each cell
  • The ability to embed iFrame tools – there are so many external tools that could be embedded into Google sites, if it would allow this
  • Sub-pages only go down one level – not a huge problem, but more could be useful
  • The ability to embed videos from Drive and not just YouTube, just as you now can in Google slides

I’m really looking forward to seeing the features added in the next update, whenever that may be. However, I really like the new Google sites and find it simple to use, as I further develop the Science4CE resources. I will certainly use it for other sites in the future.

You can see the updates to the Science4CE website by visiting www.science4ce.co.uk

Personal Projectors at Bett 2017

I was drawn to the Personal Projectors stand at the Bett show this year. There were some great mini projectors on display; some battery powered, wireless and with brighter image projection than the ones I saw a year ago.
I particularly liked the ultra portable projectors, ranging in price from £250 to £700, my favourite being the Pico Genie M550 Plus, Short Throw Wireless LED HD Projector (650 lumens with battery / mains), for £599.99. Details of this and all of their other offerings can be found at http://www.portableprojector.co.uk.

Swivl

Swivl robotThe Swivl was a device demonstrated to me at the Bett 2017 show by one of the Apple resellers who had a stand there.

It is basically a robot that holds an iPad or other tablet, and rotates to ‘follow’ a portable transmitter/microphone that can be worn around the neck of whoever is being recorded. So, for example, if you wanted to video record a student performing a practical task, they would wear the microphone dongle and the robot would follow their movement, with the iPad recording video via its camera and receiving audio from the mic worn by the student.

The demo I witnessed was very interesting and the setup certainly could be used to collect video evidence of practical skills being performed in a number of scenarios.

New Chromebooks demoed at Bett

Google at Bett 2017This was to be my first post focusing on one of the offerings on display at the Bett show, which I found interesting, on the day I attended. However, everything I wanted to say about the presentation by Google’s Tony Wong, and the details he gave about the upcoming new generation of Chromebooks, were covered in an excellent article by NAVEEN VISWANATHA on the eSchool News website. 

Rather than write it all again, here is the link to Naveen’s article, covering everything I wanted to say… http://www.eschoolnews.com/2017/01/25/new-generation-chromebooks/