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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wikispaces Alternatives

Almost a year after it ceased operations, Wikispaces and "Wikispaces alternatives" are still two of the most frequently searched terms on this blog. If you find yourself looking for an alternative to Wikispaces, here are some good options to try.

Google Sites
Google Sites, like almost every G Suite for Education product, offers collaboration options. Create a Google Site and invite students or colleagues to be editors on that site. As editors of the site they can add content to the pages of the site and edit the work of all contributors to the site. In a classroom setting I might create a page for each student to be responsible for managing. Here's an overview of how to get started using Google Sites.



Notion
Notion is a service that is best described as part wiki and part project management tool. Notion is designed for group projects. You can create sections for each of your projects. Within each section you can create a list of tasks. Notion also lets you add sections that include links, videos, images, and documents that you have written outside of the service. And you can write directly on a page in your Notion account too.

Weebly for Education
Weebly for Education will let you create a website that can have multiple contributors. Just like with Google Sites, I would create a series of pages and assign each student to be responsible for maintaining one of those pages. Here's an overview of how to get started with Weebly for Education.


Wikis in Plain English
Wondering what a wiki is? Looking for a way to explain wikis to students or colleagues? Common Craft's Wikis in Plain English is probably the best explanation you'll find. (Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft).

ReadWorks Offers Free Summer Reading Packets

Summer will be here soon (in the northern hemisphere) and ReadWorks has free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.

If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.

5 Google Drive Tips for New Users

Google Drive is the core of many aspects of G Suite for Education. There are lots of little features of Google Drive that are often overlooked by new users. If you're new to using Google Drive take a look at these five features that can help you save time and otherwise improve your Google Drive experience.

Change the Layout of Your Google Drive Dashboard
There are two layouts that you can apply to your Google Drive dashboard. You can use either the material view (the layout that has files arranged in tiles) or the linear view. I prefer the linear view that puts all of my files and folders in a list. Watch this video to see how to change the layout in your Google Drive dashboard.



Disable Email Notifications
If you end up sharing files and folders with a lot of people, you could end up getting an overwhelming volume of notification emails. You can disable those notifications rather easily. Here's how to disable email notifications in Google Drive.



Create Shared Google Drive Folders
Do you have a bunch of documents and slideshows that you want to share with a colleague? Put those files in one folder and share it. Here's how you can create and share a Google Drive folder.



Share Videos Through Google Drive
You can store just about anything in your Google Drive including videos. In fact, Google Drive offers a great way to share videos without having to upload them to a video sharing site. Here's how to share videos through Google Drive.



Automatic File Conversion
If you're transitioning to G Suite for Education there is a good chance that you have a lot of older Word and PowerPoint files that you'll still want to use. You can have those files automatically converted to Google Docs and Slides format when you upload them to Google Drive. Watch the following video to learn how to have files automatically converted to Google Docs format when you upload them to Google Drive. It's important to note, as Deborah Alexander pointed out to me, that converting a file from PPT or Word to Google Docs or Slides can impact on the formatting of that file.




Learn more about Google Drive and G Suite for Education in my upcoming course, Getting Going With G Suite