|ACD Home > For Faculty > Instructional Technology Support > Google Docs|
By Slava Khaitov, Instructional Technology Specialist
Given the wide spread use of Microsoft Office, the company’s flagship application, it is hard to imagine anyone craving a better productivity software suite. Keeping in mind that 90% of users utilize less than 50% of product functionality, the question is whether it is worth the hassle of dealing with alternative products, learning new, unfamiliar interfaces, adjusting to new terminology, and facing possible compatibility issues. We strongly believe it is. For one thing, similar products offered by other companies provide important benefits to their users - something that MS Office is not (yet?) capable of delivering.
This article is the first of a series of editorials on alternative ways to create your documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Google Docs is the productivity suite that tops our list. It offers online document editor, electronic spreadsheet and presentation applications, as well as a form builder and online storage, at no cost. Google Docs provides compatibility and integration with other applications and allows multiple remote users to work together on a document simultaneously, while maintaining a high level of information security.
Google Docs uses a new approach to delivering productivity software called “software as a service.” Instead of installing and using the application on your local computer, Google keeps it on its web servers. This makes Google Docs completely independent of any specific platform and operating system. Whether you use the Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Chrome browsers, and the Windows, Mac OS , or Unix based operating systems, Google Docs simply always works for you.
This application centralization approach also frees end users from having to deal with the technical issues of application deployment such as installation, configuration, updating and troubleshooting, as well as the legal issues of activation, registration and acceptance of a strict license agreement. Users simply access Google Docs via any web browser, and then create, store, and share documents online.
If desired, documents can be tagged, archived, sent via e-mail, or downloaded locally in many different formats such as DOC, ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, and TXT. All work is automatically backed up on a regular basis to reduce the risk of data loss.
As an additional benefit, you no longer have to carry your files around or worry about whether other computers have the appropriate applications installed so that you can open your files. As long as there is an Internet connection, your Google Docs application, and documents created with it, are immediately accessible.
We highly recommend that you try out Google Docs. Just sign in at http://docs.google.com with your Gmail (Google E-mail) account, or click on the “Get Started” button to create one. We will help you get familiar with the application by providing you with updates and tips in our future articles. So, stay tuned!