Hosting E-Portfolio’s using Google Sites

Written by admin

Topics: E-Learning, Education, Google

With an increasing number of schools in New Zealand taking advantage of their Google Education domain I thought I would turn my attention to unpicking some of the pitfalls of using Google Sites to host e-portfolios of supporting evidence for Unit/Achievement Standards. Having spoken to a few teachers that are using Google Sites to manage e-portfolios for their students it is clear that the students like engaging in this way. The technology gives them additional support and structure to their work in addition to making it easy to add/upload rich media elements, adding value to their assessments. Students like being able to make quick changes and upload additional evidence in a ‘no fuss way’ Teachers like being able to set up templates to guide their students as to how to lay out their evidence too. In short, it is a strategy that can really help maximise student performance.

What are considerations of using Google sites to host portfolio evidence for NCEA Achievement/Unit Standards?

  1. Think carefully as to who to will be allocated as the site ‘owner‘ – if it is the student, using their own school based Google Account the assessor cannot lock down the evidence base once the assessment is complete. Allowing the student to continue to make modifications/enhancements to the assessment base. The teacher being the owner of the site and giving edit rights out to students is a viable option with small groups as it creates a management overhead for the teacher to keep up with site admin. In addition you may need to consider just how much space students require and how much space you have available for portfolio’s.
  2. As a teacher will you give an e-portfolio layout/structure to the students to aid in the collection of their evidence base?
  3. Communication – make it clear to students of the time/date that sites will be downloaded for moderation purposes.
  4. If students are creating sites on their own school based Google Accounts – make sure the accounts are not automatically deleted at the end of the year (especially Y13) as the evidence base could still be called upon for moderation.
  5. Don’t rely on the cloud – take snapshots of the final eportfolio’s for moderation purposes. This involves downloading a local copy of the website and all referenced files (See below).

So Just how do you back up a Google Site to send to your NCEA moderator on a CD?

The process is relatively straight forward as a site can be downloaded using the open-source tool available at the Google Sites Liberation Project Page.  Note that this tool requires Java 1.5 or later.  Once the tool has been downloaded, double-click on the JAR file to launch the application.  You will be presented with the following screen:Images showing Google Site import/export prompts

Enter the required information and click “Export” to download your site as XHTML.  The downloaded site will not be styled and will not include the chrome and is completely unstyled, but will contain all of the content included in the site. Unfortunately there is no way of downloading the CSS/themes etc. It is worth noting this and let students know so that they do not waste time developing the aesthetics of their site.

Interestingly you can also use the same tool in reverse – to upload a site you may have to Google Sites. To upload a site, use the same tool as above, but point the target directory to one with content in it.  Clicking the “Import” button will upload all of the data in that directory to Google sites.

The full user’s guide for the import/export tool is available here.

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