Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Google apps, an enthusiastic academic.

The final session this afternoon was from Professor Matthew Collins from York University about using Google apps for research. York, like us is a Google site, using the apps for education suite.

It was a passionate talk. I love listening to academics :-). It was based on the premise that Academics tend to write papers together, and do it quickly. So, they need good collaboration tools. They also process and store lots of data. Cloud services are great for this.

He moved from a Mac laptop to chromebook as an experiment, so he was forced to use cloud services. He has obviously never looked back!

He made the interesting point that all academics use gmail, no matter what you think they're using. He collaborates with academics using docs from many universities, and if they don't have a gmail account from their university, they log in with their personal one. He has rolled out lots of cloud services to academics who loved them.

He pointed out the difficulties of collaborating in other ways, such as track changes in word. His example was 30 authors collaborating on a paper which had to be completed in two weeks, which was successfully done using google docs. Would have ben impossible in word.

I was reminded of something which happened here recently when someone wrote a document in Google docs, asked for comments on it from a group of us, and someone converted it to word, used track changes, and emailed it to the group!!

He also uses Google Plus a lot with closed communities around separate research communities. When this is indexed it becomes a massive collaboration tool.
Some of the tools integrated with Google apps are very powerful. A free GIS tools allows mapping, and a cloud based based bibliography tool, Paperpile, looked particularly good and we'll certainly be investigating it.

He has 1.5m docs on Google drive!! This led to Google stopping his access because they thought he was doing something dodgy.

He has tried other cloud services eg iCloud, One drive, but in his opinion they were not as good as Google.

He's now using it for teaching preferring Google classroom to Blackboard, and
Google slides instead of Keynote or PowerPoint. I hadn't realised how integrated Google slides was with Google scholar, allowing you to select images which you can drag to a slide and it will provide the citation of the origin of the image.

He's also using Google plus for teaching. Students will post stuff there because it's a closed community and not part of their Facebook and Twitter worlds. They engage with it in a way that they won't with Blackboard.

Excellent talk, and some discussion afterwards. Especially liked the question, will Microsoft ever catch up, and his emphatic "no" as a response.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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