Feb 23, 2016

Writing & Google Docs

by Terri Wagner

I am taking a Google Docs class from the Alabama State Board of Education offerings. The best part is the class is made up of educators all over my state. We are learning so much from each other. The other great part is that our local county school board just approved switching out Mac Airs for Chromebooks. Although, the Macs are awesome and can do so much more, I do think the more computer experience our students get the better. Before the Mac Airs, they had Windows in computer labs. We now have the 1:1 program. In view of what I do for my school, I thought it would behoove me study up on Google Docs. Since I am still collaborating with my friend, I thought we could practice. Sadly and thus far, she has not embraced the idea. I'm still working on her.

The best part of Google Docs is the ability to edit/comment directly. For a while I worked with an online publishing company. At first, we tried to use Word, figuring most people had Word or access to Word. On that note, we were actually wrong, especially with our international submitters. We also discovered that Word versions were an issue. I would open and edit and send back to the author, he/she would open and nothing would be there. Oddly now that I think about it, I always had to accommodate the author lol. So our editor-in-chief decided on using this thing called google docs. I cannot tell you how hard I found it. I was constantly downloading the pages into my Word version, doing the edits, and then uploading it. I somehow missed the whole you can edit/comment in the docs on the drive without having to download. In fact, that's the big yahoo for the word processing tool.

As a school district, we always were told you could only print in the cloud. True is HP in particular has a patch you can download and wala you can print from a Chromebook on a "classical" printer via a USB cable. That was both a relief and a roll of the eyes. A relief because my teachers love to print. They have yet to grasp the concept of grading things on a computer. And the 4-6 like to fill their rooms with printed projects. And it keeps my brother in business since he works for a paper company lol. A roll of the eyes because there is too much printing around here. And as the keeper of the printers I am always asked by the bookkeeper why I need so much ink. I have to remind her that I only have the printer in my room. And it's not really me printing things out. So the "big" issue of printing was resolved.

Another issue that came up in the publishing company that Google Docs helped with was the proofing. Multiple readers can log in, offer up comments, edit if necessary, and the master editor can accept or reject. Those comments can be marked resolved and disappear from the document view but are always there. That helped cut down on the but-I-suggested-and-you-didn't-respond. I have discovered that people like to have their comments answered.

You would think armed with all of this publishing background knowledge, my first assignment in the class would be a breeze. Create a lesson plan document and share it with comment ability and link it to the forum. My first attempt failed. When you clicked on the link, you had to sign in. I think I went wrong because I used my county school gmail instead of my personal gmail. When I redid the link in my personal gmail account, there were no problems. So who knew that would be a concern??? Bottom line: I like Google Docs and our next assignment in the class is Google spreadsheets which I hear are as easy as Excel. Begs the question why did Microsoft not go this route? I imagine you can already see how this can work well for collaborations, but it can also work for the lone wolf writer. Whenever you are, whatever device you use, sign into your gmail account, click the rubic's cube looking icon and access your docs, change them, edit them, it saves automatically, and keeps revisions of former documents. The future? We'll see.

Downsides? Possibly security issues. It is possible that someone with your gmail credentials could access your writing and then steal it away. It does require Internet access. And you are in a Cloud environment. We do not yet know how secure that is. Although with the latest issue between the FBI and Apple, maybe we are more secure than we think. Anyone else out there with Google Docs experience?

1 comment:

  1. I use Google docs quite often. One of our home computers doesn't even have Word on it. So we just use Google docs. I am still trying to learn how to edit on there...it's a process. But it certainly is nice to be able to access what I need from any computer and not have to worry about losing stuff if my laptop dies. Thanks for this informative post!


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