Friday, May 15, 2009

Lesson 7: Document Sharing with CITES NetFiles and Google Docs

An important building block of any collaboration is the ability to share documents. In this lesson we will explore two tools which are readily available to U of I faculty, staff and students: CITES NetFiles and Google Docs.

CITES NetFiles

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, CITES, provides the campus community with an interesting array of services, including email, telephone, calendaring and software, as well as collaboration tools like document sharing which we will look at here. File sharing using CITES NetFiles allows us to access documents over the Web and create Web pages which anyone can access. CITES has a large number of pages which give us step-by-step instructions on how to gain access, create and make available our creativity. Some important pages include:

1. View CITES Homepage (website)
2. View CITES NetFiles Main page (website)
3. View Signing up for CITES NetFiles (website)
4. View Using CITES NetFiles on the Web (website)
5. View Using Guest Tickets (website)
6. View Web Publishing with CITES NetFiles (website)

Google Docs

Google, the company with the leading search engine on the Web, also has a dizzying array of other products to assist us in our daily work. Google Scholar, Google Earth, Google Reader, Blogger and YouTube are just a few of the leading products in their fields.

Google Docs, Google's online document sharing interface, provides us with an additional platform for collaborative work. Documents can be shared in a wide variety of formats, including Word, Rich Text Format, Excel, PDF and many others. An interesting feature of this is not only the space for documents, but also an online editor which allows for the simultaneous editing of documents, lessening the need for multiple emails and multiple versions which can create mass confusion. Google Accounts is the front end so to speak which allows access to many of these products, including Google Docs. If you are not familiar with Google Accounts, you can quickly sign up for a free account which will give you access to a phenomenal amount of document storage.

Sign up through Google Accounts (website)-if you do not have an account, click on the Create an account now link on the right hand side

Google Docs with allow you to collaborate with friends and colleagues from around the world. Documents can be shared with others through a simple process involving a Share button which allows the entry of email addresses to "invite collaborators." Advanced settings can even allow collaborators to invite new people.

View Google Docs entry in Wikipedia (website)

There are a large number of very useful YouTube videos available which highlight the many features of Google Docs, including:

1: View Google Docs in Plain English, which has been viewed over 1.6 million times! (video)
2. View Teachers and Principals Talk about Google Docs (video)
3. View Welcome to the Google Docs Community (video)
4. View Setting Up a Gmail Account (video)

Other Free Document Sharing Websites

There are many other document sharing websites you can use. Some of the larger ones include:

1. View Scribd (website)
2. View Calameo (website)
3. View docstoc (website)