Google Sites is a wiki offered by Google as part Google Applications. It is an easy to use document or Web site creation tool, available for anyone with a valid Google Account. With Google Sites, people can quickly gather a variety of information in one place – including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text – and easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their entire organization, or the world.
Google Sites allows to create sites using several templates and to quickly manage them in terms of structure/format (width, height, number of pages, layout) and graphics (colors, theme).
Organizing pages through Google Sites is user-friendly. Once the homepage is created, subpages can be added and moved very easily. In addition to the standard pages, it is possible to create other pages with special features: Lists, dashboards, announcements and file cabinets.
Adding pictures and links, leaving comments, uploading videos and embedding documents are very simple actions to carry out with Google Sites.
Thanks to the revision history, the system takes track of who is doing what and can be set so that it sends out an email anytime an update is made to the site.
New viewers/collaborators can be easily invited to join the site by just adding their email address.
Different levels of sharing can be set for each participant (viewer, editor, manager).
Here is a brief introduction to Google Sites from Google:
In the beginning there was JotSpot, the product of a software company offering enterprise social software primarily targeted at small-sized and medium-sized businesses.
In 2006, JotSpot was acquired by Google. Only in 2008, Google Sites became available for free, separately from Google Applications, and without the need for a domain.
Before starting to work with Google Sites, it is important to draft a set of guidelines to clearly define the purpose of using this tool instead of different collaborative tools, and to share clear instructions on how it is going to be used.
Google Sites was used for the organization of the Feria del Conocimiento (Share Fair) in Cali (a CIAT, FAO, CGIAR, ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR, IICA, KM4Dev joint project). It turned out to be very practical for the storage of all finalized documents related to the event which could be properly organized and classified and were easily retrievable.
The use of Google Sites can be combined with Google Calendar which keeps track of meetings and other important dates by storing them in one place only, accessible to all members of a team. Google Sites can also be used in combination with Google Docs which is particularly helpful with collaborative creation and editing of documents.
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