Google Docs, Part 1: Why use it?

I will begin this series with a disclaimer: I am not formally endorsing Google.  Nonetheless I would like to draw attention to a potentially useful tool, Google Docs.

If  you are collaborating on a document and using a standard word processing program, the process usually involves an exchange of numerous e-mail attachments.    Since it stores the document in a single location, Google Docs eliminates the need for the e-mail attachments.  It also allows each collaborator to access the document from any computer with an internet connection.

Furthermore you can keep track of changes with the Revision History feature.  If you need to see who contributed what content to a document, you have the capability.

Google Docs would be especially useful for sharing meeting agendas or meeting minutes.  Each committee member can make suggestions or corrections without clogging up e-mail in boxes.

How useful would it be in teaching, though?  The following two articles discuss educational uses for Google Docs:

Crane, B. (2007).  Google in the classroom–more than just research.
Information Searcher, 17(3), 16-24.

Murray, L. (2008).  Giggling over Google: Using Google Docs and Google custom search engines for Web 2.0 information literacy practices.
Against the Grain, 20(3), 28-32.

Go ahead and explore Google Docs for yourself.   You will need to sign in with your Google account or create one in the first place.  In the next segment I will discuss situations where Google Docs would be unsuitable.