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Google Sites for collaboration: five inspiring examples

posted Mar 6, 2014, 3:52 AM by a.pastore@cgxchange.org   [ updated Mar 6, 2014, 3:54 AM ]
Google Sites are a handy tool that help you collect the information a group needs to work together in one convenient place. 

They are great for time-bound initiatives, like supporting workshop participants before, during and after the event, holding a consultation with stakeholders, or for ongoing collaboration and information sharing across a community of practice.

Available as part of the Google Apps suite on cgxchange.org, Sites is an online website building application that helps you set up a site based on templates and assign viewing or editing rights to specific people, whether colleagues from CGIAR or partners around the world. CGIAR staff can access and use Sites with their cgxchange.org account. See how to get started with Sites.

But how are people using this tool? What for? Here's where examples come in handy to show the possibilities. Yours truly has scouted five websites that CGIAR colleagues have built with Sites on cgxchange.org, that hopefully will inspire you for your next collaborative project.

#1 - A central place for a community and an upcoming workshop: Crop Ontology Community 

Public site 
What for: provide key logistical and agenda information for an upcoming workshop. 
The site hosts information on participants, the agenda, news and useful background documents.

Crop Ontology Community

#2 - A documentation wiki: GCP Crop Ontology Guidelines for Curators

Public site 
What for: enable collaborative updates of the guidelines for GCP Crop Ontology curators. 
The site is no longer being updated, but remains a classic example of a collaborative documentation wiki.

GCP Crop Ontology Guidelines for Curators

#3 - Group work space for ongoing collaboration: MusaNet

Public site 
What for: provide a group work space for the Global Musa Genetic Resources Network, in short MusaNet, a global collaborative framework for Musa genetic resource experts. 
The site hosts links to resources of common interest and work-in-progress for the four thematic groups in the network: Diversity, Conservation, Evaluation and Information. 
MusaNet also aims to strengthen ties and facilitate information exchange among the regional Musa networks.


#4 - Collaborative platform for program work planning: PIM 2015-2016 Extension Work Planning

Access to site granted to everybody with the link 
What for: facilitate a cross-Program consultation process to develop the PIM extension proposal. 
Collaborators (current PIM team and potential partners) were invited to:
  • review a set of guidelines hosted on the site, 
  • submit their proposals and review plans of their colleagues, 
  • fill in a questionnaire to give their feedback or express interest to participate.


#5 - Team coordination and information repository: GLF at COP19 Social Media Team

Access to site granted to everybody with the link 
What for: enable the social media team at the COP19 Global Landscapes Forum to:
  • stay up-to-date with the strategy, approach, tools and expected outcomes for the Conference, 
  • coordinate tasks, 
  • collect statistics and 
  • prepare the onsite training and social media bootcamp.

GLFCOP19 Social Media Team

Intrigued? More than 400 sites have been set up on cgxchange.org over the years. Go get started with Google Sites and dive into this tutorial on how to create and share a Google Site.

Author's note and credits: I found some of these sites one day when I was looking at traffic analysis of cgxchange.org. I got curious about the fact they were showing up in the stats and started a scouting mission for sites that demonstrate how teams can do work online. A big thank-you goes to the site creators who helped review the sites and provided great suggestions: Luca Matteis (Bioversity) for the Crop Ontology sites; Rachel Chase (Bioversity-France) for MusaNet; Evgeniya Anisimova (IFPRI) for the PIM Work Planning; Peter Casier (CGIAR Consortium) for #GLFCOP19.