Sunday, July 7, 2013

Google Sites vs. Wikispaces

I currently use both of these applications as a supplemental webpage to the Edline webpage that Seymour provides for us.  I started using Wikispaces several years ago added numerous pages with links and such to the main page as a way to house all of my online materials in one place.  Not to mention that prior to Edline our school kept switching our web provider (remember FinalSite) and I got sick and tired of re-creating websites for the latest and greatest.  My Wiki homepage was exactly what I needed and I slowly added content for myself to use but more importantly for the students to use.

Last year, however, I started using Google Sites and created a new Google homepage because I kept on having formatting issues with my Wikispace pages, in particular with font sizes.  It was really becoming quite annoying and wasteful as I would have to go into the HTML code and to fix it (or try).  I didn't have any of these problems using Google Sites, even when I cut and pasted content from other sources.  The graphical user interface (GUI) is much more straightforward.  For now, Google Sites is the winner!

Note: I did not choose Google just because our school system will be using Google Apps for Education next year nor is it because they gave me a free trip to Bora Bora and a corvette.

So Why Not Use Only The Google Site?
I haven’t shut down my Wiki homepage because of vast amount of stuff I have acquired over the years and it would be very time consuming to move it (lazy-?).  Also, just in case Google reinvents itself in a bad way, I still the other site.  The two homepages serve different purposes anyway and I have links from my Wiki homepage to my Google homepage and back again.

Advantages of Google Sites!
My Google sites homepage is setup differently than the Wiki in that I have put my daily assignments along with links to all handouts onto the site, thus my class syllabus is online.  This was incredibly easy since my daily lessons are done using Google Docs, I simply cut and paste into the Sites page. The following is the link to last year’s Chemistry Syllabus: Chemistry (2012-2013).  

One Last Note on Google!
I created the AP Chemistry Summer Assignment on Google Docs and asked the incoming students for their email addresses.  Approximately 70% of them already had gmail accounts (and 90% had Google accounts) which means I was able to share this document directly with them.  I made a copy of the document so I can post answers or whatever else I want to share with them.  The really neat thing is you can set the document up so students can comment on the document or even edit the document.  Great for student collaboration. For more on this type of document sharing using Google see the Tech Messengers Podcast by Mike Oberdict and Eric DeMarco.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The New Summer Brew

This year's home chemistry experiment is an India Pale Ale (IPA).  The first part was a success but I won't know how it really turned out until fermentation process is complete in a few weeks.  Also, I had a little helper who says he loves making beer, at least until he gets bored...