Friday, August 01, 2008

How we use Google Docs

Tech Tips: Google Docs and the Help Desk

About Google Docs
According to Wikipedia, "Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007."

Google Apps @ SJSU
According to a Web page maintained by the SJSU Web Services team (at the time of this writing), "San Jose State University is in the early stages of using Google Apps Education Edition. Currently only faculty and staff are given access. We hope to include students at a later time, when technical challenges around associating student email addresses with Google Apps is resolved." Currently this is being called, "Google Apps @ SJSU".

Known Issues
There are issues using Google Docs if you are intending on inviting university employees into collaboration with people with e-mail accounts. A person with an e-mail account cannot be invited into collaboration using Google's own brand of Google Docs. We have found, at the help desk, that the best bet is for all parties involved in collaboration to have e-mail accounts that are not in the domain. We have found, Gmail accounts work best. If you have an e-mail address and you try to access Google's own Google Docs after being invited by a person not from an account, you will be forced into an SJSUOne authentication. Even then, you will not be able to get to the document you have been invited to edit. The best bet is to stay off the reservation, for now!

Help Desk Google Docs Work Flow
At the university help desk we use Google Docs extensively for preparation of documentation. This way teams can collaborate on our documentation easily. Because we invite students to collaborate on our documentation we are using the Google's own version of Google Docs. Our work around has been to ask our help desk entire staff to get Google Gmail accounts and to issue invitations to the Google Gmail account for the users we wish to invite to collaborate on the document. We may, as an option, invite them via a seperate e-mail to their or other e-mail address telling them, "please check your Gmail e-mail account for an invitation to collaborate on a Google Doc."

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