This morning I saw a post by Will Richardson that literally made me grin from ear to ear. Click on the link and check out the picture. Its an image of a Twitter post likely from a high school student. Based on what he wrote it seems that his school’s network has either crashed or had some major malfunction. As a result, no one can access their documents. However, this student can because he created his on Google Docs (cue Superman music). This kid’s tweet caused me to reflect a little on how much I love Google Docs. If you haven’t checked out this free service here’s a few reasons why you should.
- Its FREE – Let’s say you just bought a new home computer and you don’t want to pony up another $300 for Microsoft’s bribe (whoops, I meant “license fee”) so that you can join the rest of the world by having access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Google Docs is one of your free alternatives, along with OpenOffice and NeoOffice. One advantage to Google Docs is that it doesn’t require any installation of software. As long as you have Internet access and a Google account, you have the ability to use Google Docs. If you use Gmail, Google Reader, or Blogger you already have a Google account. If not, you can sign up for one of those for free too.
- Collaboration – Now on my 5th year of teaching I’m finally figuring out that collaboration is one of the keys to survival (its also how you survive grad school). Google Docs allows you to collaborate with colleagues in the room next door or on the other side of the country. One of you creates the document and invites collaborators. Its a handy way to work on curriculum together and doesn’t require any meetings (like any of us needs another one of those). Once you are finally done you can download it as a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file to use on your school computer.
- Available Anywhere – As I mentioned in #1 all you need is your Google account and an Internet connection to access Google Docs. If you are like me and have a computer at home with Internet access that means you can create a Google Doc, edit it at work, and “take it home” to work on it later without ever having to unplug and pack up your laptop. Its also handy if you have a really great innovative idea while standing in the Apple store (it happened to me once – don’t laugh!).
- Google Maps – The account you create for Google Docs can also be used to create custom maps for use in Google Earth using Google Maps. I know, I’ve beaten this horse to death, so I will just leave you with this link.
Admittedly, I am a Google Docs newbie. As recently as just 6 months ago I was happy using Microsoft Office since it was installed on all of my computers. However, after a not-so-happy experience with Office 2008 for Mac (I did find a work around to this problem, but now Word keeps crashing), I’ve learned that Google Docs has a quite a few advantages. I’m actually ditching Office 2008 once I no longer need Entourage for work email. Try using Google Docs. Perhaps you will discover some more advantages. If so, post a comment here so that we can learn from your experience.