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Module 3/Google Documents


Overview More than seven million students at high schools, colleges and universities


across the country are now using Gmail as their official email provider. Each of those email accounts comes with a suite of other free applications to produce spreadsheets, calendars, presentations, drawings, and word processing documents. The huge base of students and faculty with access to the same suite of free tools holds enormous promise for the future of collaborative writing. One of the goals of our May seminar was to work with the Google Docs applications to learn more about how they work in practice and how we might use them with our students in teaching and research. Using the Google Docs interface is commonly referred to as working ―in the cloud‖ because the product is not housed on an individual’s computer. Rather, the document is located in cyberspace. Our experience in writing this document using Google apps suggests that these


applications offer an entry point to collaboration midway between ―single author peer review‖ and the more wide open culture of the public wiki. Potential products of the collaboration range from short papers or essays to multi-section documents (such as this booklet) that can easily be shared on the Internet or in more traditional formats. The Google tools are far from perfect, but they offer a range of potential benefits that


extend the capabilities of traditional office applications. When assignments are carefully structured and managed, using Google Docs can enhance the process of collaboration by providing additional tools for communications and sharing.


Benefits Several benefits exist for those using Google Docs. The fact that these tools are


familiar to most users helps shorten the learning curve for using the technology. There are several options available for editing, including options to include comments and to track changes. Google Docs allows for real-time collaboration, making it an option to use in-class as well as with out-of-class assignments. The technology allows for controlling the various versions of the documents that allows for tracking of changes


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