Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google Sites -- What they did with JotSpot

I mentioned earlier that Google has relaunched JotSpot as Google Sites, and expressed disappointment that it does not appear to include project management capabilities. Let me offer a slight correction.

Google Sites looks like a sort of anything box that can be integrated with all of Google's other offerings. It is a part of Google Apps Team Edition, so you can't sign up with your Google account (I tried), but rather with your school or organization email. The idea is to allow automatic access for others on your team.

I haven't explored GS in detail, but the mock examples are interesting.

Example 1: Team Project
One is for a team project, and it includes features such as a team calendar, a list of open items, a pie chart to show open items, a link to technical docs, etc.

And then it has an intriguing item on the dashboard: "Next Major Milestone: Widget Roadshow."

Q: Aha! Does this indicate that it handles milestones?

A: No idea. I can't find any milestones by clicking around. I searched for "milestone" and "widget roadshow," but nothing.

Nevertheless, GS appears optimized to share among team members the way that Basecamp does. But it's unclear whether these teams can come from different domains -- something that makes Basecamp the killer app that it is.

GS takes advantage of Google Docs and GCal by embedding appropriate content, which is nice.

Example 2: Classroom
This example, on the other hand, could be the sleeper app. Many instructors -- well, me at least -- have been exploring the use of Google Docs in their classrooms. But GS gives the example of a class page that reproduces much of the functionality of Blackboard or WebCT, including announcements, reading list, and document storage. I imagine it would not be hard to integrate a class calendar, student assignments (via GDocs), and possibly a spreadsheet with grades.

I'm not sure that GS will be a game-changer -- it is supposedly going against Microsoft SharePoint, something with which I don't have much familiarity -- but it'll be interesting to see what uses people come up with.

Welcome to Google Sites

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