Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Making Websites With Google Docs

When the preview for the new Google Sites came out last summer, I got excited and frustrated all at once. The new Sites looked great and was easy to use, which means my students were likely to pick it up quickly. But I was also frustrated because I couldn't do a lot of the things that the old platform allows.

This situation prompted me to consider whether or not my students even need to make a website with Sites, new or old. After all, I want them to learn skills and experience the audience that comes with publishing their work online.

I chose to teach with Google Docs as much as possible. There's so much you can do with it, including publishing to the Web. Plus, teaching with Google docs allows students to choose their platform in the future.

Here are a couple ways to make it happen with Docs.

Publish to Web

Docs has a feature in the File menu that allows you to publish a document to the Web. It comes with a default header and footer, but it's really quick. This way of publishing is good for working across devices (smartphones, tablets, full browsers, etc) and publishing simple documents like agendas or a syllabus.

WWW Drive

If you are looking for a more appealing product, I recently found WWW Drive. The nice thing about this tool is that you can host your site from Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.

Here are the steps I took to make it happen.

1. Download your Doc as an html file.

2. Unzip your files and organize them in the proper folder.

Open file in zip extractor.

Set the destination folder.

Move files out of the unzip folder.

Share unzipped files so they are searchable on the Web.

3. Go to https://www-drv.com and click the cloud storage you want to use. Make sure you are signed in to your account.

4. The site will take you to an admin panel where you will find links to your published html files.

Tip: Use a link shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl to make sharing easy.