February 26, 2007
By Elisabeth Grant
Group projects are a guaranteed part of the undergraduate experience, but coordinating group members’ conflicting schedules to share work can become the bane of any student’s existence. This is why every student should know about Google Docs and Google Notebook. Both tools allow users to store documents and notes online through their free Google account, and then share them with others.
Google Docs (& spreadsheets actually) allows users to upload files or create them online. Then they can invite others to come and view or edit the documents. Multiple people can edit the document at the same time; Google saves each version and allows users to switch from one to another. Google Docs even has a built in chat window so groups can discuss issues while all looking at the same document. Once the document is complete, it can be saved, printed, or published.
Another group lifesaver, Google Notebook, deals more with online research. It allows users to make notes about, and grab text from, web pages and then organizes those notes in one place. Notebooks can be shared with the whole World Wide Web, or with a select group of people who can also edit and add to the notebook (if the user allows). To use this tool users must download a Google extension, which unfortunately comes with some system requirements. View multiple screenshots of Google Notebook in action here.
Check these tools out and see if they make your group projects go a little bit smoother. Also, see part one of this series of posts to read about two other resources from Google: Google Books and Google Scholar.