Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week 6: Online Office Tools

So far we've played with a number of tools that change a specialized or difficult task into one that can be simply done by anyone. For example, Big Huge Labs allowed us to take a photo of our favorite cat and turn it into a Warhol-style poster or multi-page calendar with just a few clicks. We didn't need to own or know how to use desktop publishing or photo editing software; instead, the website is the software.

In a similar way, this week we're going to use Web 2.0 tools that eliminate the need for word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Your work can be saved remotely and shared with whoever you like, skipping the hassles and risks of e-mail attachments. Imagine students collaborating on a school presentation from different locations. Or being able to access a full featured word processor and your files (with spell check) from any computer in the world. Microsoft must be a little bit worried.

To start, watch this short video about Google Docs:

Pretty neat? Now let's try it ourselves.

Although we all should have Google accounts, thanks to having Blogger accounts, for some reason the confirmation e-mails never make through GroupWise. Blogger doesn't seem to care if the confirmation e-mails are successful, but Google Docs does. To get around this, we need to take a slight detour an create new Gmail (Google e-mail) accounts.

This may be slightly confusing as we already have Google accounts; just remember that your blog account log in will not be the same as your new Gmail and Google Docs account log in.

Go to mail.google.com and click on the Sign up for Google Mail link and work through the registration process, creating a new Gmail address for yourself. Once that's done, please do the following:

1. Go to docs.google.com, log in using your new Gmail address, and under the New menu, select "Document".

2. A new window will open that looks just like a new document in Word. Type a few lines, try out some different font sizes and colours.

3. Click on the share tab in the upper right corner, and in the next window enter tpl23things@gmail.com as a collaborator. I'll receive the invite to work on your document, and then I'll come and add a few lines.

4. I'll then invite you to collaborate on a document shared by all 23 Things members. Be sure to check your Gmail account periodically for the invite.

5. Try out some of the other features in Google Docs and make a post to your blog with your impressions. Is this a tool that you would use? Do you see it being popular? Any ideas for applying it to TPL work?

6. Send an e-mail to 23things@torontopubliclibrary.ca when you've posted to your blog.

See you next week.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Great tips! Google Docs is another one of those excellent online office tools for sharing data through the web. Anyone who has a Gmail account is able to access this part of Google’s website. If Google Docs is appearing in a language you don't understand or don't want to use, you can change the language by following these steps:

1. On your Docs homepage, click the option icon in the upper right corner and then click Documents settings.
2. On the Settings page, click the drop-down menu beside Language.
3. Select the language you want to use.
4. Click Save.
5. To go back to your document, click the link called Back to Google Docs.