Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thing #13 - Google Docs

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs (or Documents) is FREE online software for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, much like Microsoft Office (aka Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). And did we mention our favorite part? It’s free!

What can I do with Google Docs?
To put it simply, a whole lot! You can use it to create new documents, spreadsheets or presentations. You can access your files from any computer with an internet connection, and your files are securely stored in Google’s online file storage system – no disks needed! You can also open existing Word or Excel documents using Google Docs to edit or print them. (This can be quite handy if you are working on a computer that doesn’t have Microsoft Office.)

But one of the most innovative and exciting things about Google Docs is the ability to share your documents and collaborate with others. Any time you create a document or spreadsheet with Google Docs, you have the option to share it with someone, just by putting in their email address. They can then view, edit, and collaborate on the same document you just created – without sending pesky email attachments back and forth.

This can be helpful in many ways – working on a project or report with a coworker, sharing gift lists with family, helping a friend edit a paper for school, and really, any way you can imagine.

Most of the Web Challenge was created with Google Docs. One committee member could draft the text of a Thing and everyone could comment and make changes. We're using a Google Doc spreadsheet to track your progress, too.
And because Google Docs are part of Google, you already have an account just by having a Gmail address.

Here's a great video made by the people at Google describing why you should use online software:

You can also check out the Google Docs Tour.

So what are you going to do this week?
We will be sharing a Google Document with all of you for this week's exercise. You should see an email (in your Gmail inbox) from the Web Challenge inviting you to view the document we have shared with you. To view it, just click the link in the email.


Go to
Google Docs and log in with your Gmail username and password. You will be taken to your Google Docs inbox, which looks a lot like your Gmail inbox. You should see a document called "2009 Web Challenge Favorites".
To open it, just click on it as if you were opening on email.

Once you have opened the spreadsheet, add your name and answer to our question. Then save and close the document. You'll be able to see what other Web Challenge players have added.

Then, write a blog post about Google Docs. How would you use the collaborative features at your branch for a project? Is there a project that you're currently working on where Google Docs could help or save time?

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