Collaborating with Google Docs

(This post originally appeared on Micah Yost’s Blog)

I’ve designed a lot of A/V systems for a lot of applications and they typically have one thing in common: a big screen. Usually it involves a projector, but sometimes a monitor or TV is sufficient. Conventional wisdom has always been that the only way to show something to a group for collaboration is to project it on a large scale. Whether it’s a projector in the boardroom showing a spreadsheet or a SMART board in the classroom with a drawing, display systems are designed to allow others to see what you are working on. But what if there was another way?

Enter Google Docs with it’s sharing ability. In Google Docs you can create and share drawings, documents, spreadsheets, charts, and even slide presentations. Creating all that content in the cloud and sharing it is great, but it get’s even better. That sharing happens in real time, which means if multiple people are logged into a document at the same time they can see those changes happening. It means instead of projecting that spreadsheet on a huge projector, everyone in the boardroom could just log into the same Google spreadsheet and see changes and annotations in real time. Have someone that needs to dial in remote to the meeting? No problem. They can simply conference call in (cheap) to listen and watch the presentation by logging into the same doc. Further, with the built in chat feature they can easily comment to the group.

How about the classroom? Could Google Docs takes on the infamous SMART board products? On some level they can. If you share a drawing, students can watch on a tablet or PC in real time as you draw, write, or color. Students can even interact with the drawing in real time right from their own tablets or computers. Further, this content is available later for students to review or show their friends. It opens up a whole new world to social learning. Or consider a “remote” for your projector. Project a Google Drawing on the large screen in the classroom and than pass around a tablet logged into the same drawing. Students can draw and interact with the screen right from their desk. No SMART products needed here, and about 20% of the cost.

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4 thoughts on “Collaborating with Google Docs

  1. Realtime collaboration sharing is a great solution for a virtual team as well. Whether it be a snow storm, or finding the right talent in different timezones, being able to all get in on the same document or presentation at the same via the web is a great benefit.

    I used Etherpad during a pilot for working on RFPs in real time. Etherpad was an Open Source application and the founders essentially joined Google awhile back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etherpad I believe some of the Etherpad technology made it into Google Docs apparently.

    • micahyost says:

      Eric-
      Great input. I know Cisco has a big play in the Unified Communications trend these days, which has a lot to do with collaborative work technology. Do you get involved in that arena at all?

      • Hi Micah,

        Yes, definitely. I focused exclusively from 2003-2009 on UC architectures for Cisco in Omaha as a pre-sales Systems Engineer. My exposure involved green field deployments, but mostly integrating and laying out roadmap type migrations off of traditional digital or analog phone & voicemail systems. It was a rewarding experience to see networks converge once again… this time voice & data. Today it’s all about seamlessly integrating your workplace experiences together be it at your desk or on the go.

        A few years ago I moved out of direct customer sales and joined a ‘virtual’ sales operations team building tool sets for a globally dispersed pre-sales engineering workforce. This led me into several areas of global collaboration – IM, Wikis, Discusssion Forums, Web meetings, Desktop share, Video Communications. (I can only speak for my team’s needs and not Cisco in general.. but Etherpad failed, Cisco Jabber IM succeeded, Webex Connect Spaces failed, Webex Training and Meeting Center both succeeded, Jive Connections succeeded, but is now failing due to poor support, Cisco Quad is succeeding, Microsoft Sharepoint / aka Lync failed.)

        Our sales force needs at Cisco are global, mobile and highly scalable. That doesn’t necessarily imply only a big large business can use Cisco. Every business is going mobile, global and communication is virtually free today.

        I truly believe in the power of the Internet and the social network (The Human Network in Cisco marketing terms). Cisco is adapting to how we all will be working/living/playing on both a local and global basis in years to come. We want to make is easier for business. Here’s an example of getting customer feedback and changing your stance in the marketplace: http://blogs.cisco.com/channels/collaboration/50-million-cisco-ip-phones-and-jabber-instant-messaging-im-for-everyone/

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