Integrated within Google Workspace are a range of collaborative Google Apps:
The main three Google Apps, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, are obviously analogous to the main three Microsoft Office tools (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), and they share many features with their Office equivalents. Office files can be edited in their equivalent Google Apps, and Google files can be saved in the associated Office format, so there's a degree of interoperability too. As a generalisation, the Google versions lack some of the more advanced features of the Office applications, but they also have a number of features that Office lacks, particularly in terms of facilitating collaboration.
There's loads of collaborative features in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
The most obvious is that you can simultaneously edit (none of that Read Only Copy stuff you get with Office when someone else is in a file).
You can also comment on sections of a document, or suggest changes.
Furthermore, if more than one person is in a document, a chat icon appears to the right of their icons in the top right of the screen, letting you chat with anyone else who's currently there.
Here's a few things to consider when collaborating on Google Apps documents and other files in Google Drive:
Every file and folder in the My Drive section of Google Drive must have one owner (and this owner cannot be a Google Group). The person who created the file or folder will initially be the owner. Ownership can be given away by the owner, but not taken by anyone else - the onus is on the owner to transfer ownership. The owner can also decide whether to restrict the ability of others with edit permission from being able to change sharing attributes.
Drive does not use the term delete but instead chooses remove. If you own a file/folder, remove will move the items to your bin. If you are not the owner it will simply remove it from your Drive view (but if it's in a shared folder, it will disappear for others too!).
When an account is suspended (for instance, when you leave the University), all resources owned by that user will cease to be available, irrespective of location, and so it is essential that ownership of shared documents is transferred to an appropriate individual when someone leaves.
You can delegate access to the files you create in or upload to Drive.
When you share a file/folder, you first have the choice of leaving it visible only to the defined list (default) or making it more generally available. You can also set the permission level in each case.
Permissions can be set to expire after a period of time - either after several days or on a specified date.
You can right-click on a file or folder in Drive and choose Move to open the Move dialog box. Multiple items can be selected using the CTRL key. Alternatively, you can drag items about the place.
Just like with Windows, you can add a shortcut to a file or folder in a separate location. To create a shortcut, right-click select a file or folder and choose Add a shortcut to Drive, then navigate to where you want the shortcut to sit. The file itself will not inherit any permissions associated with the folder you put it in, but the shortcut link will be visible to anyone who has access to that folder (regardless of whether or not they have access to the file at the end of it).
If a file has been shared with you, you can use the same method to effectively add it to your own My Drive. You can even organise it within your own folder structure, safe in the knowledge that you won't break anything for anyone!
There are effectively two types of folders in Google Drive:
As soon as you give access to a folder, it will get a little head symbol on it to show that it is no-longer private.
When you assign sharing permissions to a folder, all documents created in or moved into that folder will inherit those permissions.
Inherited permissions can be modified for specific files, to over-ride the inherited permissions. For instance, access might be removed or added on a particular file. File permissions trump folder permissions.
In the example above, a folder (left) is shared with the pink triangle and the blue square. A document in that folder (right) has its sharing permissions adapted so that it is not shared with the blue square but it is shared with the orange circle. As a consequence, the document is shared with the pink triangle and the orange circle, but not with the blue square.
If a file is moved out of a shared folder, it retains any permissions set at a file level but loses any permissions set at a folder level. Predicting the outcome of moving files and folders is not always easy: you'll need to look closely at the file permissions to see what might happen.
If we were to move the file from our previous example out of its folder, the pink triangle would lose access and only the orange circle would be able to see it. Depending on where we put the file, it might inherit some new permissions there.
Remember, if you're worried about moving files, you can always add a shortcut instead: the file itself will not inherit any permissions associated with the folder you put it in, but the shortcut link will be visible to anyone who has access to that folder (regardless of whether or not they have access to the file at the end of it).
Always remember: Only the owner can delete (remove to bin) a document or folder.
Working collaboratively at a distance is complicated. Fortunately we can now create documents that multiple people can access at the same time — and even edit at the same time! This has the power to transform the way we work — if only we could stop the bad habits we've been develping for centuries...
Earl Siward wishes to negotiate a Peace Charter with his rival Lord James, but both live at opposite sides of a perilous swamp. So Siward writes his terms on a piece or parchment, and entrusts it to his best messenger: a little urchin boy called Scritch.
Scritch sets off from Castle Siward, and carefully descends the treacherous path that spirals around a curious avocado-shaped monolith. Local custom states that this strange landmark is a place of dark magick, and travellers are warned to pass by this spot as quickly as possible lest they be bewitched. So Scritch wastes no time and is soon at a fork in the road. There are two roads to Lord James' Castle: one through mysterious haunted woods, and the other through an unpredictable swamp. It's been relatively dry, so Scritch risks the swamp. The stepping-stones are slippery but Scritch treads carefully and is soon at the other side. He is almost upon Lord James's castle when he is beset by horrifying geese. Fortunately, Scritch brought a sandwich with him and is able to distract the geese and buy his route through. He reaches the castle, knocks on the door, and delivers his Earl's message.
Lord James reads carefully. He thinks a while, and then scribbles out some of Earl Siward's draft Charter, adding some notes in the margin and several new paragraphs on the other side of the parchment. He passes the newly revised Charter to Scritch to deliver back to his master. Scritch sets off again on the journey home. The geese are still there, but now it's starting to rain so they scatter. However, the rain will make the swamp crossing dangerous, and although the sun is starting to set, Scritch has no choice but to take the other road through the haunted wood. Keen to make it through as quickly as possible, Scritch breaks into a jog, but the wood is overgrown and Scritch trips on a bramble, grazing his knee. He dusts himself off and carries on, singing a song to himself to keep his thoughts from fleshing out the eerie noises of the dark and mysterious woods. Sore, tired, and terrified, Scritch finally reaches the junction again, and heads back up the spiral track to Siward's Castle.
This is the way we've written to each other for centuries. Sure, some details have changed: Scritch was replaced by the Post Office; we built a bridge over the swamp and cleared a better path through the woods; but the geese are still there and so is the distance. Technology has reduced the time it takes, but the principle has generally remained the same.
When email came along, we pretty-much carried on doing what we'd always been doing. Only we swapped Scritch for a mail server that would serve as our Post Office.
But one thing was subtly different: rather than the same piece of parchment travelling around in the possession of the loyal Scritch, we're making copy after copy:
Three computers, each with at least three copies of the file... and we've only just begun our collaboration. What's more, this is only two people collaborating on a file. Imagine attaching an agenda for a meeting and then sending that out to the ten people who are due to attend. That's at least 12 copies from a single email. And then you notice an error in the agenda and send out a corrected version — 24 copies...
And all of this is taking up more and more storage space and burning more and more electricity.
There are other complications with this model too — it's a very turn-based approach: Siward and James can't work on the document at the same time because then there would be conflicts to resolve between the two different versions. And even in a turn-based approach, there's the risk that you accidentally edit an older version and mess everything up.
If only there were another way...
Siward and James both have access to some cloud storage. Cloud storage is basically just a shared hard drive, albeit at the end of a very long wire! We've had shared network drives for decades, of course; they're older than email is. But the problem always used to be that only one person at a time could access a document and make changes to it; the other person would be locked out because real-time collaboration was too much for the computer to cope with.
But now we have collaborative documents like Google Docs: documents multiple people can access at the same time; documents multiple people can even edit at the same time.
So now Siward and James can have a single document in the cloud, and both of them can open it and make changes to it simultaneously. There's no longer nine versions of something; there's just the one.
It also means that if you're emailing out something like an agenda for a meeting, rather than attaching the document (which then becomes multiple copies of that document) you can just link to a single file in the cloud which everyone can access. And if something on that agenda changes, it changes for everyone; there's no need to send it out again!
We are living in the future and it is a magical place!
The Google Workspace applications enable you to work collaborative on documents, slides and sheets. This introduction provides an overview of some of the Google applications on offer that you can use for group work, such as writing your final report or presentation, organising meetings and sharing your findings. Make your group projects more efficient by tapping into the functionally offered using Google apps for collaboration.
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