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Family Medicine - Moving from SiteMaker to Google Sites

The Department of Family Medicine is using Google Sites to provide learning materials to residents, bilingual learners, and the public via the Open.Michigan website

Business Needs/Situation

The Department of Family Medicine provides ongoing learning in the form of online multi-media content to residents in the department. A significant portion of this content is accessed via mobile devices. In addition, some of the learning content is presented in Japanese. The content is also released via the Open.Michigan website and makes most of it publicly available. Some content, however, needs to remain secured to only department members.


Find a free or low-cost web hosting system that can be easily maintained by non-technical staff and that supports:
  • mobile browsers (the top feature request from residents taking the courses)
  • Japanese-language characters (kanji)
  • multi-media content
  • various levels of access to specific content

Prior Solution

The previous solution, SiteMaker, did not support mobile browsers well—something residents requested often. Deploying Japanese-language content required additional work to patch servers for compatibility. Additionally, university plans to transition the SiteMaker platform to alternative services meant the department needed to migrate content to another hosting solution.


Using Google Sites, the Department of Family Medicine combined 38 separate modules into one site to deliver learning content to their residents and the global learning community.
  • Content can be maintained and curated by groups outside of Family Medicine, allowing for contributions from department faculty, residents, and fellows, as well as community practitioners.
  • Maintain access controls via MCommunity, utilizing learners’ M+Google accounts instead of having to manage a separate access-control mechanism for private content.
  • Sites offers page-level privacy settings, “one-click” mobile compatibility, and also handles multi-media and kanji content well.
  • The Site links to videos that were created by Department of Family Medicine faculty, and are hosted on the Open.Michigan YouTube channel


The department configured Google Sites to deliver structured learning content. They also enabled automatic mobile compatibility and analytics through Google Analytics.


Learners visit a Google Site via a desktop or mobile browser to participate in learning modules. Maintainers and contributors to the Site can work with the content directly through the Google Sites editor in their browsers.


  • Easy to use, no complicated programming
  • Compatible with many mobile devices
  • Updates propagate automatically leading to a reduction in errors
  • Page-level privacy settings
  • Flexible, expandable file structure allows for seamless addition of new content
  • Support of kanji makes Japanese language content easy to deploy