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Google Documents

Brief Description

Google Documents is a platform powered by Google which allows users to create, store and share documents online. Text documents, number spreadsheets, forms and "Powerpoint" presentations can all be created, edited, stored and shared on Google Documents. The tools are useful for when a team with good internet access want to collaborate on the creation and maintenance of such documents and easily share them with others online. You can download the documents for editing offline and then upload and synch using Google Gears and the FireFox browser.


It used to be when we wanted to collaborate on a document or spread sheet, we'd have to mail around a file. Now we can collaborate on the same file. Google docs is similar to a wiki, but the interface is more like a familiar word processing program.

When to use

  • When a group, such as a community of practice has to work together on creating a common document with several people adding content to the document.
  • When you want to publish a document, spreadsheet, form or slide show online and don't have your own web page.
  • It is not as useful if all you want are comments or clearance on a document that you have created.
  • Here is a fun example...

How to use

  • Go to Google Documents
  • Create your account (or use your Gmail account if you already have one)
  • Create new documents or upload documents already stored on your computer
  • Share the document to either let other people see and/or contribute to it
  • Invite your friends and colleagues to contribute to the document. There is a utility built into the application that sends these emails

Tips and Lessons Learnt

  1. Allows a community of practice to share various documents online. There's only one version of the document which stays online. Collaborators are invited to make changes to the document online.
  2. Word processor interface is very much like MS Word.
  3. You can create a new document in Google Documents or work from your regular computer and upload it to Google Documents when the document's ready to be edited.
  4. You can collaborate on several documents with different communities of practice from just one google doc account.
  5. You can create a print version, a web version, a .doc, .pdf and other extension files at any time straight from Google Documents.
  6. You can follow the history of changes like in a wiki: go to Tools/Revision history or File/Revision history. Then tick the versions of the document you wish to compare and click on "Compare checked".
  7. You can change the language setting of your google doc interface (all buttons and commands).
  8. You get to invite people to view or collaborate so that document A stays confidential within community A while document B you're also involved with stays within the circle of community B.
  9. The "Hide" function enables you to remove documents from your Google Documents main page once you have assigned them to classifying folders. You can thus use the main page as the page that shows the documents you are currently working on when those documents that are finished have been classified in folders or been hidden.

  1. You need to register to Google Documents with yet another login and password. If you create a gmail account, you'll be able to use all Google applications using that one login and password but all emails you exchange related to the shared documents will use gmail. You can create your new account with an email address you prefer to use and correspondence will then go to that email address.
  2. Google Documents follows the language setting of the Google home page that is set as default on your computer. I'm located in Thailand so my google docs interface was suddenly all in Thai, which made it difficult to get out. One way to solve the problem: when asking for www.google.com on your web browser, google will reorient you to the "most appropriate" google depending on your computer setting. Below the search bar, there will be "Google.your-country-code in English" and below-right "Google.com in English". Choose either one if you want to make sure your interface ends up in English language.
  3. When tracking changes, there is no function to accept or reject changes. You have to copy original text from an old version of the document in the Revision history file and paste it back into the document.

Examples & Stories

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