Open Thinkering


Using Google tools for student projects

Google Apps

Last week a colleague got in touch to ask my advice about improving a project his Year 8 (12-13 year old) students do each year. He was using Dreamweaver with them to produce websites, but felt that the project was overly focused on the ICT aspect than the subject-specific skills he was trying to develop.

The two options he was considering were either for each student to create their own wiki or for them each to have their own blog. After some discussion, he decided that perhaps using Wikispaces might be the best option – especially when I pointed out that they’re ad-free for educational purposes.


No, however, I’m not so sure. After stumbling upon a link via which got me thinking, I reckon that a combination of Google Docs, Google Page Creator and iGoogle could work even better. Students could even use Picasa Web Albums to show off images they have collected/taken. The process would go something like this:

  1. The teacher directs each student to create a new Google account.
  2. Students collate materials and information they are going to use via Google Docs. Each stage or page of the website they are to create could be planned here. They can also add collaborators easily for group work.
  3. Students publish their work via Google Docs and then link to it via their iGoogle customised start page.
  4. Using Google Page Creator, student use WYSIWYG online tools to create their web pages/website.
  5. Various media could be embedded in the site (videos, slides, etc.) or a series of images via Picasa Web Albums (even geotagging them as they go!)

Advanced uses of this might include using Google Notebook to collect information from relevant websites, Google Reader to keep track of relevant RSS feeds, Google Video to create documentaries, and Google Talk and GMail to collaborate with people further afield!

If you find these Google tools useful then you might want to consider Google Apps for Education for your establishment.

Has anyone done something like this? Have I missed anything out? You’d think I was paid to promote Google, wouldn’t you? Nope, just enjoy using their tools… πŸ™‚

2 thoughts on “Using Google tools for student projects

  1. Hi Doug,

    Interesting idea which I need to think over some more. For what it’s worth here are my initial thoughts.

    As of yet, not all of these facilities are part of google apps (notebook and reader for example). This would potentially cause issues as effectively the pupils would need two accounts, one with the school and one with Google. Not insumountable, but a potential issue none the less.

    The second thing is that this might just get a wee bit complicated – for the kids I teach at least. There’s up to five new programmes here, and while that might be fine for a minority, I can see frustraition setting in. I suppose one way round that would have been to already have introduced Google Docs, Startpage / iGoogle etc…

    One final point, we’ve currently switched page creator off in our version of google apps until such time as we’ve figured out how we’re going to use it / manage it effectively. In the meantime Bebo seems to be serving as a perfectly good stop-gap for the pupils!

    1. Thanks for the comments, Dave. You’re right about Google Notebook, etc. not being part of Google Apps, – not something I’d thought of!

      I’ve got 500 accounts on my installation. My idea is to sign up every kid I teach (for ICT and for History) and then give it a whirl. In ICT I should imagine Google Page Creator and iGoogle would be the most useful, whereas in History I should imagine I’ll be focusing on Google Docs and GMail… πŸ™‚

      Anyone who wants to try using this next academic year and work collaboratively in sorting out any potential issues, please chime in!

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