Really walking the walk not just talking-to talk

I am currently in graduate school at George Washington University. I am doing their online  program of Masters Education technology and leadership. I just started this fall and really enjoying it. Actually I blame them for lack of blog posts…. But that’s not why I am telling you this. Anyways they have group projects (awful in real life and now I have to do them I a virtual classroom…ugh!) where you have to collaborate, create and write papers and projects. Of course it’s hard to get everyone on the same page, let along working together when you are battling time zones, culture difference, and different background all stirred together. But thankfully we have every type of collaboration tool possible.

  • Discussion board
  • Email
  • Wikis
  • Group project private discussion boards
  • Drop box and file sharing
  • And lastly
  • Google docs

I have never used it before until… We had to come up with an instructional goal, purpose and objectives for a proposal. The group had already tried emailing all week and got no where. Time was ticking fast… We decided to jump on a call to figure it out. I was on Google Voice, a lady from china was on Skype   And the other lady on her cell phone. We jumped in a GoTo meeting and found out that using GoTo meeting was going to take too long. I though I would be the one to volunteer to write it up and submit after we discussed ideas. (always seems to happen that way…) Then lady in China couldn’t get on the GoTo meeting bc of firewall in her school, so clearly the meeting was off to a great start. Someone suggested we use GoogleDocs. So we all jumped on and said, “OK but how?”  The lady in china (Kate I think her name is) started and shared the start of our propsaoal. We all took a different paragraph and section and went to town. Within one hour it was complete. By the end it was better than anything I could have ever done myself and it was done! I couldn’t believe how cool and EASY it was…it took my level of collaboration to the next level.

My next group project for a different class, I suggested we jumped on a call and started our group project right there in GoogleDocs and got it done less than an hour. Both of the other group members hadn’t ever used Google Docs before and they loved it too.

The great part about it is that it’s simple to use. Plus it’s real time collaboration.

I started to think about my organization, and how this tool would be amazing within it. I kept thinking about using SharePoint and how it’s great but if someone has something “checked” out then you cannot work on it. Which is good for some things but if we could work together instead of locking other out, it could save a lot of time. The thing is… I know it’s coming… in SP2010… but will my organization take to it? Or is it a change in the way they collaborate as an enterprise… Funny thing is that Google Docs is great and FREE.. But I guess that if an enterprise used it, google would have to charge… Right?

So anyways, after my awesome experience with Google Docs in action, I shared it with everyone I know. Plus I want to use it in my other classes and group projects. Its really not that hard, anyone could do it! Do you use Google Docs to collaborate? Or do you use it just to send files to one another? What other free tools do you use? Have you had similar experiences or really bad ones with these tools? What would you tell someone trying something out for the first time? Do you use Google Docs? What for and what don’t you use it for?

I was actually kinda embarrassed that I had never used it before…. But shhh don’t tell anyone.