Google Docs are terrific for sharing and collaborating; the functionality of documents, presentations and spreadsheets is nearly as good as their Office equivalents and of course you can upload your existing Word, PowerPoint and Excel files and have them converted to Google docs. I’ve not encountered any difficulty in uploading documents or images to Google docs from within the school network.
My favourite Google doc is the Google form, something that Excel has no equivalent for. Google Forms allow you to gather information from people and have it automatically collated and collected in a spreadsheet. They have all kinds of uses including surveys for research, collection of information and registration forms for event organisation. I regularly use a Google form for our staff to register for workshops to attend during our Workshop Week each term. As the registrations come in I can quickly get a visual idea of which workshops are filling up, then when registrations close I export the results to Excel for manipulation into confirmation emails and presenter rolls.
Google presentations are a useful way of putting a Powerpoint on a website (like authorSTREAM) but unlike authorSTREAM they can continue to be edited once embedded. This opens up enormous possibilities for collaboration, probably no better demonstrated than by Tom Barrett’s Interesting ways series. Here’s the one on (appropriately!) Google Forms:
With lots of fabulous ways to use Google forms with students I was very disappointed earlier this year when I found that a form would not embed in an Ultranet collaborative space. Google presentations will not embed in a collaborative space either but you can configure an iFrame application and that works very well. Of course, now I know not to expect “iframe”-type embed code to work, but I had completely forgotten that during my release 2 training last year I had embedded a Google Form into a Learning Task. I’ve tested it again and it definitely works which is great to know because Google forms have lots of applications within Learning Tasks.
Inexplicably a Google Presentation will not embed in a Learning Task (I had high hopes there!). I haven’t yet tested anything else in Learning Tasks – watch this space!
P.S. Another great use for your Google Docs account is for uploading/storing your images – very quick and simple to do. Once in Google Docs each image has its own URL which means you can use this to insert it into any suitable Ultranet application without having to upload it to your content.