Using Google Sites for E-Portfolio Work

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In the forthcoming academic year, staff facilitating student development of on-line portfolios as a part of their teaching activity will be moving to using Google Sites.  This has become an option since the University has taken on Google as a service provider.

The area of supporting student E-Portfolio development needed to be re-considered after the possibility of continuing with the current portfolio platform became doubtful due to the software reaching end of life in the form that we are currently using it.

Over the course of the last six months we first specified portfolio requirements (in conjunction with current portfolio users) and then looked at potential solutions for portfolio against this specification (in doing so we also polled other institutions to see what they have in place).  Portfolio platforms considered were commercial, open-source, cloud-based and already internally available.  These were short-listed against the specification and available funding before we moved to test the short-listed solutions.

In the end, the ease of workflow identified with Google Sites for staff and students, combined with Google Sites ease of editing and the fact that Sites are already available and supported within the institution won out.  Google Sites support students creating a portfolio from scratch or based on a template and we are currently discussing the possibility of creation and permissions management of Google Sites via scripting with IT Services.  Should this come to fruition (and we are optimistic that it will) this would provide the additional possibility of easily creating multiple sites for students, along with setting of appropriate rights for each site, all in one operation.  In addition to this similar scripting could be used to remove permissions from sites; this would allow the ‘locking’ of sites at any point in time.  This could be a key requirement if portfolio work is to be assessed for example.

The PGCAP team are already using Google Sites with their students and the PGCE team (the first to implement fairly large scale VLE based portfolio activity) have notably tested the new Sites workflow and intend to go with it for their next cohort of students (switching from the current system they have been using in previous years).

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