Google Docs is a service offered by Google that offers the ability to create, edit, manage, and share documents online. It is possible to make text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms. Google Docs can be compared to software suites such as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice but is housed online so that it can be accessed from almost any computer or device with an internet connection. Assuming that you have a compatible device with access to the internet, the only other requirement is that you have a Google Account.
After signing in to Google Docs, the Docs list is displayed. The Docs list is the command center for creating and managing all of the document types.
Any existing docs can be viewed or edited by clicking on its name in the list. To create a new document click the Create button. The type of document must be selected. Whether editing an existing doc or creating a new one, the interface will be familiar to anyone who has used an office suite application.
It is possible to upload documents to Google Docs as well. Almost any type of file can be uploaded. For many file types Google Docs can automatically convert it to the appropriate Doc type. For example, a Excel spreadsheet file can be converted to a Google Docs spreadsheet. Once a file is converted it can be edited just as easily as one that was originally created in Google Docs. Similarly, any Google Doc can be downloaded to a computer or device by first opening the doc and then choosing “Download as” from the File menu.
The sharing features of Google Docs is where it really shines. A document can be shared in multiple ways:
- A doc can be emailed directly to someone as an attachment.
- A link to a doc can be placed on a website or in another document.
- Another person’s Google Account can be specified allowing that person to see the doc in their own Google Docs list.
If a link is placed on a website (or elsewhere), any changes to the document after the link was provided will be seen by users clicking on the link. If the doc is shared with another person’s account they can optionally be given editing, commenting, or ownership rights to it. These sharing features make Google Docs a great tool for collaborating with others.
For more information about Google Docs, checkout the recording of the Google Docs webinar that was offered by the Academic Technology Resource Center on April 10, 2012.