Mapping Student Learning Journeys using Google Sites!

In recent years, the phrases “learning journey” and “student centered learning” have been at the forefront of the Irish education system. In particular (for second level), the introduction of the Junior Cycle curriculum makes reference to student learning journeys as they navigate, discover and explore the learning outcomes. The learning outcomes for each relevant specification consists of mainly an overarching theme with relevant strands, but more significantly, they have been designed to be taught in a non-linear approach. This means students (and teachers) have the flexibility to “dip in and out” of certain learning outcomes as they naviagte their learning journey. Thus, no two learning journeys may look the same, encouraging student autonomy and ownership in their own learning.

The design of the new specifications can allow for such individual learning journeys, whereby the achievement of the learning outcomes is the main goal for all students. But what does a “learning journey” look like? How can I as a teacher “map” out individual learning journeys? How can a teacher facilitate students to explore and discover more to help enable them to construct their own journey?

The answer may be easier than you think – by using an app called Google Sites!

What is a Google Site?

A Google Site is an app that allows teachers and students to create their own accessible websites, without using an computer programming skills! To put it simply, Google Sites allows you to “host” or display any relevant information, resources, materials, videos and/or other materials in a single website/webpage. This includes docs, slides, videos and photographs to name but a few.

The uses of Google Sites seem limitless – however, it can be a powerful tool to help display a learning journey!

Student Portfolio Template!

To aid with this, Google Sites have provided templates to help with the development of such student portfoilos. These sites can be customised and designed by the students to help them put their own theme on their learning journey.

Student portfolio templated provided by Google Sites app (Google Workspace for Education). The right-hand side displays the drag and drop functions to help create a site without using any code!

Although Google Classroom is a fantastic tool for assigning work and marking, it can be difficult to navigate and only shows the selected assignment and it’s piece of work. A student portfolio however can help display ALL student work created for any term, subject or module – all on one single platform.

Imagine a student entering 1st year and recording all their homework assignments, research assignments, creative writings, investigations, etc and completing their site in 3rd year. This would provide a fantastic digital record (e-portfolio) of student learning as they progressed throughout the course. It could also be used not only as a useful revision tool, but as a reflective piece to see how their learning has developed over the course of 3 years.

An example of a student learning journey through the Junior Cycle Digital Media Literacy Short Course. This student has mapped out their learning of digital rights and responsibilities, snapchat safety, their digital footprint and their research assignment, all within the JC short course specification.

From 1st year to 3rd year, students can lose copies, lose resources, and often forget pieces of assignments they have completed if they don’t refer to them on a regular basis. Using a Google Site for their learning journey, they can have a digital record to organise their learning and even refer back to previous learning and build on it.

Check out this tutorial below on how to build your first website/portfolio using Google Sites!

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