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Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Susan Cramer, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

Collaboration helps all of us become better thinkers, writers, and program delivery people. But, it is often difficult. If you are developing a written document collaboratively, it typically involves emailing copies back and forth between partners. And, for this to really work, you have to be using the same software package — anyone get caught with the doc vs. docx upgrade? If you are lucky enough to be using a compatible program, there still is the question of what changes were made, by who and when to say nothing about continually wondering if you are looking at the most current edition of the paper/project/proposal. Sure, you can turn a tracking mechanism on to determine who has made what changes, but do you really have the most recent copy. And, what if each of the collaborators wants to work on the article at the same time? Then what do you do? A solution is now at hand — Google docs. Have you looked recently to see what tools Google has available for use online? If not, it would be worth your time and money.

Google docs is a free, web-based service that allow you to create, edit, and store word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more on the web. You and your collaborators can edit in real time or individually seeing the changes that are made as they occur. While the materials are on the web, not everyone can see them (if you don’t want). You control who has access to your materials and can take them down whenever you want. Because it is web-based, you don’t even have to own word processing software. It really doesn’t get any easier than this.

To sign up for a free account, take a tour, or watch a video of what is possible, go to Google, type in “google docs” in the search engine and click on the link (you can also find a link under “more” on the top tool bar), or you can follow this link. On the right hand side of the page you should see a button saying “Don’t have a Google Account? Get Started.” Simply click on the Get Started button and you are on your way.

Hope you try this collaboration tool, it just might make your life easier. Why not use it next time you submit an article to our journal? We are always looking for great ideas. This is your journal, let’s share!