Homework Calendars - Publishing, Sharing, and Informing using Microsoft SharePoint and Google Sites

Image representing Google Calendar as depicted...Image via CrunchBase
"What's for homework?" or "When is our next test?" or "When is my final essay due?" are probably some of the most common questions a teacher will get asked during class. Prior to creating my own teacher website, I tried to have a syllabus for each unit and students would get a 2-3 week snapshot of all the homework assignments, lab experiments, and tests. With teacher websites becoming more popular, sharing this information online becomes a great way to keep our students (and parents) informed. Using our website trilogy as a starting point, we will now take a look at a few ways to share what's due and when.

SharePoint - Looking again at Mr. Schelbert's site, we find a homework calendar in the month view that's easy to see what events are happening and when. What you don't see is the smooth integration of SharePoint and Outlook 2007 that occurs and makes it very easy for Mr. Schelbert to update his website calendar. After selecting the "Connect to Outlook" function under the Actions button, he is then able to see side-by-side calendars, one for his work and the other for his website. He can connect to additional calendars via the same process. This is a huge selling point for using a SharePoint site and calendar, as we are currently in an Outlook/Exchange environment.

Google Sites Calendar Embed - Essentially the same process can be obtained with a Google Site and Calendar. In Ms. Ruocco's site, we see an Assignment Calendar that looks and feels very similar to the SharePoint example from above. The only downside is that you need to have a separate tab open for the calendar when editing, and we've noticed some erratic behavior with attaching documents to calendar items. Still, it's a great way to share assignments and events, with the website calendar getting automatically republished upon updating.

Google Sites Announcements Page - A clever use of the Announcements page is for a daily homework update. Here, it's very easy to see what's due and when since each day is represented by a new post. A nice feature with this setup is that students can subscribe to posts and then receive updates via RSS. Parents may also wish to take advantage of this opportunity. Lastly, each new post can hold attachments and comments if enabled, so homework documents, solutions, and possibly discussion on an assignment can all take place here.

Google Sites Webpage - A simple webpage can also achieve the same functionality as above, as we see here. The benefits of the webpage include quick access to editing, and more control on the layout and design of your homework page, as opposed to the "newest first" default of the Announcements page.

Assignment Sheets as Attachments - Clearly, managing a calendar every day can be very time consuming. Thus, a clearly labeled assignment sheet can be stored online in a Google Sites file cabinet as seen here or in a document library on SharePoint.
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