Writing in the Cloud - online documents - Tech Learning

Writing in the Cloud - online documents

Listen to the podcast Question: What is the advantage of using a service such as Google Docs? I already have a word processor on my computer, so why would I choose to use an online word processor? The IT Guy says: The increasing power and ubiquity of the Internet makes it possible to provide online
Publish date:

Listen to the podcast

Question:What is the advantage of using a service such as Google Docs? I already have a word processor on my computer, so why would I choose to use an online word processor?

The IT Guy says:
The increasing power and ubiquity of the Internet makes it possible to provide online services that actually replace applications on your desktop or laptop computer. Of course, this is just a return to the original way people used computers in "The Olden Days"—i.e., when I was young—where the computer lived off in some other room or building and you typed at a remote terminal. One that has proven to be quite popular is Google Docs. You have to create an account to use the service, but once you do you can create in your browser window documents that have most of the major options that a basic word processor will provide, including a choice of fonts and formatting, and the ability to insert images, weblinks, and tables. Once you have the document created, you may save it online, print it, or save it to your local computer in a variety of formats, including the standard Word doc or as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

So why do it? There are two major advantages. First, because the document is online, you can access it from any computer. In this day and age, many of us work on multiple computers in multiple settings, and keeping track of where a particular document is can be maddening. A file in Google Docs, on the other hand, can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer. Second, you can share an online Google document with anyone—person or group—with a Google account. If you have a paper that needs to be accessible to multiple people for editing and collaboration, you can easily set that up with this system. Even better, like a wiki, it tracks all edits made to the document, so you can go back and remove changes if you need to. For student groups working together, it can be a great way to go.

Google Docs is not the only way to go, of course. One new player on the block is Adobe, with their new service Buzzword. It has all of the online advantages of Google Docs, and also a very slick and polished interface with more editing control options, including headers and footers with page numbers. It also will export in multiple formats, including the new Office 2007 .xml formats. Strangely enough, however, it won't export in Adobe's own .pdf format! But Buzzword is still in pre-release form, so I expect that feature will be added sometime soon. It would be too ironic otherwise. Another service is Versionate, which lets you upload existing Word, Excel, PDF or PowerPoint documents to be shared and edited online.

There are two major disadvantages to this online approach. The most obvious, of course, is that if you lose your connection to the Internet, you are completely out of luck. Second, particularly from a school perspective, is that the files are residing somewhere outside your network—and thus outside your control. Many districts are hyper-sensitive about the security of any district-related documents, and the fact that these all reside somewhere beyond the fortified boundaries of the district network creates a serious heartburn situation for your IT staff. As of right now, none of these services can be hosted on your own servers, but hopefully that will change soon.

Next Tip: My PC on my HDTV ASAP



Buzzword Writing

A web based application that seems more like a desktop app. Buzzword Virtual Ubiquity Buzzword is another web-based application, in this case a word processor. It is built using the Adobe Flex environment and requires Flash 9.0 to be installed on your browser. Of the web-based tools with which I have worked,

Collaborative Writing

Web-based collaborative writing tools offer a simple means to generate text exercises, research reports, and writing assignments in a collaborative mode. The authors discuss how Google Docs, ThinkFree, Zoho Writer, and WriteBoard can jazz up any writing curriculum.

Writing Hyperlinked Online Text

Tip: Hyperlinked Online Text is what you see on a site like Wikipedia, as below. Writing such text is a skill, but not widely discussed. Here are a few thoughts. The best blogs lead the reader to rich information by using hyperlinks to strengthen what is written in the article. Hyperlinks lead to more

Image placeholder title

SCHOOL CIO: Heads in the Cloud

For years schools have used software as a service in one area or another. In fact, in a 2010–2011 SchoolDude survey, 50 percent of districts said they ran software as a service, giving examples that included student-information systems and Moodle.

Guideline to Writing from St. Cloud State University

Guideline to Writing from St. Cloud State University Literacy Education Online (or LEO) is a great place to start if you need help with your writing. The homepage is organized around kinds of problems or questions you might have about your writing. Find your problem, click on the link, and find answers

Image placeholder title

The Cloud

When it comes to running a district’s online operations, the general consensus of this working group was not answering the questions “if?” or “why?” go with a cloud-based strategy but “when?” and “how best?”