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Monday, May 7, 2018

Weebly vs. Google Sites

Twice in the last few I have chatted with a school technology coaches who wanted my opinion about which platform their teachers should use to create classroom websites for the next school year. In one case I recommended Weebly and in the other I recommended Google Sites. Here's the rationale that I used in both recommendations.

Google Sites
The short version: Google Sites is a good option if your school already uses G Suite for Education and you don't want to introduce a new set of usernames and passwords for people to have to remember.

  • Pros:
    • Easy to embed files from Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms).
    • Easy to embed calendars and videos.
    • Easy to invite other teachers and or students to collaborate on site development.
    • "New" version of Google Sites is optimized for mobile display.
  • Cons:
    • URLs assigned to Google Sites are long, cumbersome, and nearly impossible to remember. Don't believe, try to get all of your 7th graders to this site in ten minutes or less https://sites.google.com/a/freetech4teachers.com/civics-with-mr-byrne/ and then try to get them to remember it.
    • While design options have definitely improved in the new version of Google Sites, they're still far behind what you'll find on Weebly.
    • Support for embedding content from providers outside of the Google ecosystem has improved, but is still lagging behind other website creation services.
    • No support for a blog section within the new version of Google Sites.
Weebly
The short version: Weebly offers a Weebly for Education product which is free and is preferable to the standard Weebly free product because the education version doesn't display advertising. If you're not invested in G Suite, then Weebly is a slightly better choice. 
  • Pros:
    • Weebly for Education lets you manage up to forty student accounts in one free teacher account.
    • Large gallery of design templates that you can customize to your liking.
    • Includes option to have a blog section within your site.
    • Supports embedding content from many 3rd party sources.
  • Cons:
    • So many options that it can be a bit overwhelming to first-time users.
    • Annoying pop-up message trying to sell you a custom domain appears every time you publish a new page.
    • Doesn't have a collaboration option to let you invite other teachers work on a site with you without also giving them administrative rights. 

G Suite Admins Can View Site Ownership & Request Edit Access

I don't know why this wasn't already a feature of G Suite, but as of last week administrators of G Suite domains can now view the owner of a Google Site within their domain. To view the owner information domain administrators simply click on the "site details" link in the footer of the site. From there administrators will see who the site's owner is, when the site was last updated, and they can request edit access.

It is important to note that this feature doesn't give domain administrators automatic access to edit the contents of a site. It just gives them an easier way to find the owner's information and request edit access.

Google touts this new feature as a way for domain administrators help eliminate site redundancies within a domain. It's also a way for administrators to quickly request edit access to correct factual errors within a site.

Share This Letter With Students to Show Them the Cost of Copyright Infringement

Getting students, and some teachers, to understand the importance of honoring copyright restrictions can be a challenging task. You'll often hear comments like, "it's no big deal," "no one is going to enforce it," and "it's for a school project so it's okay." The problems with all of those statements are that it is a big deal to the copyright holder, someone will enforce it, and just because it's for a school project doesn't mean you can use someone's copyrighted work.

A while back I found this letter written by Alex Wild and published in Scientific American that does a fantastic job of explaining how to handle an infringement on your copyrighted works. The letter also serves as a lesson to teachers and students who aren't aware of the real implications of just right-clicking and saving images found online. Pay particular attention to sections four and five of the letter. After reading the letter if your students still say, "well it's for a project so I can use it" then have them read Alex Wild's statement on classroom use of his photographs.

If you didn't see it last fall, Beth Holland and I hosted a free webinar all about copyright as it relates to classrooms. You can watch the webinar recording as embedded below.

Capsure - Share Collections of Images With Audio Notes

Capsure is a photo sharing service that lets you create private and public collections of photographs. Lots of other services do the same thing. What makes Capsure a little bit different is that you can add audio notes to your collections.

To add audio notes to image collections in Capsure you have to use either the free Android app or the free iPhone app. Within the app you can tap on any of the pictures that you add to a collection to launch the option to record an audio message. Then anyone who views the collection within the Capsure app can hear your audio message when they view the images.

Applications for Education
At this time of year there are lots of opportunities for taking pictures at special school events like field trips, community service projects, and graduation events. Capsure could provide a nice way for parents to capture those events and share them with family. Teachers could also use Capsure for capturing images and sounds of events to share with parents in a private Capsure collection.

What's Going On With Flippity? - I Found Out for You

A few weeks ago I was giving a presentation that included a demonstration of Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on. A few minutes after the presentation a bunch of people told me that they received a security warning when they tried to install the Add-on. (I hadn't seen the message because it was a new development since I installed the Add-on). Since then I've fielded a bunch of emails and Facebook messages from folks who were experiencing the same thing.

I reached out to Flippity's developer to find out what was going on. In short, he is aware of the issue of the app not being verified and is working on resolving it (like many of our favorite tools, Flippity is developed by one person).

In the meantime you can still use all of the Flippity templates by just going to Flippity.net and then making a copy of any of the templates. Flippity currently offers sixteen Google Sheets templates that you can use for things like making multimedia flashcards, creating progress trackers, developing quiz games, and writing Mad Libs.