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

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/

Bett 2017

Yesterday I visited the Bett 2017 show at the London ExCeL centre, with the aim of viewing the latest of what ed tech has to offer.
Was there a big ‘wow’ moment for me at the show – no, not really. Were there some items of interest – yes, of course. I will go into more detail of some of these in further posts.
What I did notice was that the major theme, which so many developers and companies seemed to be targeting, was coding. Examples of developing young people’s coding skills were everywhere, from mobile apps to new hardware and robots which could be programmed, you just couldn’t avoid it. Yes, coding is the latest hot topic in the world of computing education, but it really did seem a bit like everybody was jumping on the band wagon; I guess they are bound to, but talk about choice!
I spent quite a bit of time around the Google stand, not suprisingly considering the time I have invested in Google products and G-suite for education in particular, for Cymru Care Training. They were seriously pushing Google Classroom at the show, demonstrating its latest features and its use with chrome add-ons. The demos made interesting viewing, although it was teaching your granny to suck eggs a bit, with me. Still, I gained some useful information from a couple of their guys on the licensing of chromebooks to tie them to your G-suite for Education domain, and manage them through the admin console. I also got to see some of the new chromebooks for 2017, that are ‘Android Apps ready’, use USB type C for super-fast charging and allow you to use a non-powered stylus to write on them. They were nice, but I didn’t see a price for them!
There were a few other stands I targetted as due course; Microsoft, Apple, HP etc., and I collected the usual assortment of leaflets and hand-outs from a wide range of exhibitors, but there was nothing I was really bowled over by. Still, I came away with some useful knowledge for keeping up with ed tech, and for feeding back to my staff at Cymru Care Training. Oh, and lots of new pens, of course!