There's a simple, powerful way to collaborate on documents -- Google Docs have come to Wheaton.
Think of Google Docs as a simplified version of Word, Excel, or Powerpoint, with some crucial differences:
- You view and edit documents through your internet browser; you do not install anything on your computer
- The document exists "out there" on the web, not on your hard drive. You can access that document from any computer connected to the web
- People anywhere can be invited to visit your document for viewing or editing
- Editing takes place in real time -- many people can work on a document simultaneously and the changes appear in the document
Imagine these everyday scenarios to which Google Docs are perfectly suited:
- You're working with colleagues around the world to put together a conference panel, and need a space to collect presentation summaries
- You're putting together your department's course roster for the upcoming year in a spreadsheet
- You want your students to collect experimental data and share it with the class
- You're in a meeting updating a document, and you want everybody to participate in quickly ensuring that their contact information is up-to-date
Keep in mind that these are simplified versions of the full-featured Word Processors and Spreadsheets running on your computer, so please don't look to write your manuscript through google docs. However, for about 90% of what you do, they serve the purpose just fine.
What's more, since 2008 Wheaton has had an arrangement with Google that set up accounts for everyone with a W-id (if you are at Wheaton, you already have a Google Docs account!). You sign in with your Wheaton W-id and email password, and it's a snap to share documents with just the Wheaton community (as opposed to the whole web).
We've had some early adopters, including:
- Betsey Dyer used Google Spreadsheets in the lab to collect student data on the fly and share it back instantly
- Lisa Lebduska used Google documents to collaboratively prepare documents with colleagues on other campuses
- Kathryn Tomasek had her class of a dozen or so students transcribe historical account books into a single Google Spreadsheet. Students could see others' contributions as they were transcribing
- Research and Instruction uses Google Documents all the time when information needs to be collected and shared, or when a document draft needs to be checked and amended
Interested in using Google Docs? Your Technology Liaison can give you the strengths and weaknesses and have you up and running in no time (really!).