I.T. Help Desk
Google Apps at Emerson College
Emerson College now has Google Apps, a set of online tools that opens up opportunities for collaboration and productivity. Below are some ways you can use Google Apps to work, share, and publish with ease.
Ways to Use Google Apps Right Now
- Get feedback on your latest big project with an online survey-—or just make a fun quiz for your friends.
- Collaborate on your next group project by editing shared documents online.
- Make a club site to announce upcoming events and to post photos and stories from past events.
- Put your portfolio online for internship applications—or just to show off your work.
- Make a web-based sign-up sheet for your organization or event.
- Faculty: make a site to post your syllabus, blog, and recommended links with just a few clicks. Contact the Instructional Technology Group for assistance with using Apps for teaching and learning.
To get started with Google Apps, go to http://google.emerson.edu and click the link to Sign in. Enter your ECnet username and password and click Login. This will bring you to your customizable personal start page.
Google Apps features Google Docs, which allows you to create word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation documents online. Because Docs are stored and accessed online, you can access them from anywhere.
Even though these tools are web-based, they are nearly as feature-rich and as versatile as “conventional” software. Documents can include embedded images, drawings, links, charts, and specialized charts called “gadgets.” You can create online quizzes and surveys using the forms tool, which automatically records responses in a spreadsheet.
Editing in Google Docs is similar to using Microsoft Office, except that some familiar commands might be found under different menus. Office documents can be uploaded and converted to Google Docs, and Docs can be downloaded in many file formats, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
To begin using Docs, use the Google Docs box on your personal start page, or navigate to Emerson's docs page and log in with your ECnet username and password.
Google Apps also gives you access to Sites, a website building tool that can be used to create portfolio sites, group or class websites, blogs, and more—without having to learn HTML. Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, gadgets, photos, and Picasa slideshows can be embedded in your pages. To get started with Sites, go to http://sites.google.com/a/emerson.edu/ and log in with yourECnet username and password.
When you log in to Google Sites, click Create site and you’ll be taken to a form with simple steps to get your site started. Here you will give your site a name and address, and choose a template and theme. You can also set basic collaboration options and choose whether to make the site visible to the public.
Up to 200 users can view or collaborate on a single Google Docs document; up to 10 people (50 for a spreadsheet) can view or edit a document at the same time. A built-in chat tool lets you communicate while doing so. A commenting feature allows users to discuss and track changes on a document, and a revision history feature lets you access older versions of a document.
Because documents are available through an online editor, you’ll never have to worry about distributing the latest versions to group members, nor will you have to worry about everyone having compatible software on their computers.
To invite others to view or edit a document, select Invite people... from the Share menu at the top-right of the document editing window. You’ll be prompted to enter the email addresses of the people you want to invite, and to designate whether you want them to be able to edit or simply view the document. Invitations need not be limited to Emerson email addresses.
Google Sites also features collaboration options, some of which you can set on the site creation page. However, for more fine-tuned collaboration settings, go to More actions > Share this site while editing your site. From here, you can send out invitations for others to be viewers, collaborators, or even owners of the site. (Site owners can send invitations and make major site-wide edits in addition to the same page-level edits that collaborators can make.) You can also make the site viewable or even editable by everyone at Emerson College without having to send out invitations.
Collaboration in Google Sites not only lets groups build sites together, but it creates opportunities for groups to use websites as tools for organizing larger, more complicated projects. For example, a group working on a film could use a Google Site to discuss the project and post important announcements as well as keep their production schedule, contact list, script, breakdown, shot list, releases, etc. in a central, web-accessible place. Access can be restricted so only group members can view and edit the site.
Google Sites is an easy way to make a website to share your work with the world. However, sometimes you only want to share one thing, such as a document or spreadsheet. This is possible with Google Docs: once you’ve finished editing a document with Google Docs, choose Publish as web page... from the Share menu to make it visible to the world.