Google Docs… rocks!
This week you’ll learn about online document sharing with Google Docs.
Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 2 Podcast transcript PDF) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us; we’re happy to help!
Note: the server where our podcasts are recorded & stored
is was offline as of from 9:45am - 1pm CST 22 Jan 2008; if you’re unable to listen to the podcast, please read the transcript instead.
What is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a free online suite of tools similar to ones offered in Microsoft Office, including…
- a word processor (like Microsoft Word)
- a spreadsheet (like Microsoft Excel)
- presentation software (like Microsoft PowerPoint)
Before the Presentation tool was added, Google Docs was called “Google Docs and Spreadsheets”, and was affectionately known as “Google Dachshund Spreadsheets”.
How does it work?
Take a look at this 3-minute video for a quick overview of how Google Docs works:
[If you have trouble viewing this video at YouTube, try the video hosted at Common Craft's web site: http://www.commoncraft.com/video-googledocs instead.]
Why would I want to use Google Docs?
1. Anywhere editing
- You can edit documents from any computer that has an internet connection & a web browser; both Firefox and Internet Explorer work equally well in Google Docs.
- Edit using an interface that’s similar to Microsoft Office software, with familiar features like spell check & word count.
- Don’t have Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint on your home computer? No worries—just use Google Docs instead.
- Create your document at work in Microsoft Office & import it into Google Docs, then add more ideas from home or a conference.
- You’ll never again need to copy a file to a portable flash drive or email it to yourself to continue working on it elsewhere.
- Invite colleagues and co-workers to proof-read your work & add their suggestions, without having to merge their feedback into the final version.
- Allow everyone on your committee to co-edit a document.
- Avoid being “locked out” of a shared file if a colleague leaves a Microsoft Office document open on his/her computer.
- If you and another collaborator are editing the same document at the same time, a box at the bottom left of the screen will appear, telling you the name of the collaborator(s) you’re working alongside.
- If multiple people are editing or viewing the same spreadsheet at the same time, the Discuss tab will open and you’ll see the names of those people listed. From here, you can chat with these people about changes being made to the spreadsheet, or anything else!
- Review changes made by whom & when, and (if necessary) roll back to any earlier version.
- Publish your writing & presentations on the web, allowing a wide audience access to your work.
- Once you click the “Publish” button, your document has its own URL to which you can link.
- Avoid sending humungous 10MB PowerPoint presentations as email attachments; send a link to your online presentation instead.
- You needn’t worry about losing your work if your computer’s hard drive fails; saved documents are stored on Google’s servers. Google says, “While we can’t give you exact figures, please be assured that we back up data almost as often as you can change it.”
- A document is automagically saved multiple times while you’re editing it. Even if you’re interrupted or your web browser crashes while working on a document, when you return to the document you’ll find it the same as you left it.
Misteaks Mistakes happen
- If you’ve copied & pasted a formula into a spreadsheet and later realized there’s a mistake in the calculations, you’ll appreciate being able to review a document’s revisions to find where the error was made and correct it.
- You can even compare different versions of edits!
You can take documents created in Microsoft Office and import them into Google Docs.
And then you can export a document back into Microsoft Office, or in PDF or plain text format.
Or you can create your document from scratch in Google Docs.
Ways libraries & librarians are using Google Docs:
- Offer it at public-access Internet workstations for patrons to use:
Google Docs is offered as a Microsoft Office alternative at the Monterey (CA) Public Library. Here’s what they say on their web page: “Library computers do not have word processing or spreadsheet software, and you cannot access Library disk drives. However, you can read, create, edit, and email word processing documents using Google Docs & Spreadsheet, and download your documents later on another computer Microsoft Word and other popular formats.”
- Publish a library operations manual easily:
Mt. Mercy College Library (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) published their Interlibrary Loan Manual for student workers.
- Project Play Progress Spreadsheets:
You might not have realized it, but you use Google Docs every time you check the Progress Spreadsheet used by OWLS, SCLS and WLS!
1. Log in to Google Docs and edit either the existing text document, spreadsheet, or slideshow.
a. Go to Google Docs at http://docs.google.com/.
b. Log in using the special Project Play Google account username & password, which was emailed to you by your Project Play coordinator.
c. Add your name & jot a note on the “Welcome to Google Docs!” text document, add an item to the “Garden Budget” spreadsheet, and/or add a slide to the “Project Play Slideshow”.
d. Click the Revisions tab to see what changes have been made, and compare some versions of the document.
e. When you’re finished, click the “Sign out” link.
2. Write in your blog about your experience trying Google Docs — how you think it could be useful in libraries and/or in your life.
1. Create or import your own text document, spreadsheet or presentation at Google Docs.
a. Go to Google Docs at http://docs.google.com/.
b. If you don’t already have a Google or Gmail account, create one by clicking on the big blue “Get Started” button. Note: provide an active email address from which you can reply so you can activate your account. (Help creating an account is available at http://www.google.com/support/accounts/).
c. Create a new document.
2. Invite other Project Play participants and/or your system’s Project Play coordinator to edit your document, or link to it from your blog post so others may view it.
3. Experiment with a document by exporting it, printing it, saving it as a slideshow presentation, embedding a slideshow in your blog post, etc.
3. Keep up to date on Google Docs enhancements by subscribing to the RSS feed for The Official Google Docs blog.
Play the spreadsheet-based Flash game called Excit. The goal of the game is to exit the level you’re on (the game’s name is a play on the words “Excel” and “exit”). Each level is a number of walls arranged in different patterns with a clearly marked exit cell, as well as other objects that your cursor can interact with. Use your keyboard’s arrow keys to move the cursor up, down, left or right. Your cursor will continue in a direction until it hits an object that stops it, or continues off the screen; if it goes off the screen you start over at that level. Each time you complete a level you get a password—you can return to the game and be back at the same level.Tags: collaboration, Google Docs, slideshow, spreadsheet, word processing