The big thing that is keeping me from really using the ipad to it's fullest is the lack of google doc editing in Safari. I figured by now there would be an app that would allow for an elegant solution, but either that hasn't yet happened or I just don't know about it. With all that said, I was just running through tweets using Twitterific when I saw a tweet that linked to an open google doc. I was curious so I clicked it and Twitterific opened it in within its own browser. To my absolute shock, it remained editable. I couldn't invoke the onscreen keyboard, but was able to change formatting and see comments happening in real time ... So much more than can be done in mobile safari. It gives me hope and makes me wonder if I had my keyboard connected would it allow me to edit the document? When I can live edit google docs the iPad will be a much more viable solution for me.
A call for a little help from those out there in the World who have moved to the Google Apps for Education in the higher education space.
I read stories all the time about people moving to Google Apps with the focus on email or in K-12 environments, but what I am really interested in are stories about how people have promoted the notion of collaborative authoring across the Google Apps suite of tools (Docs, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Sites, etc) and have focused primarily on the pedagogical side of the adoption. I'd be curious in hearing any stories related to how these tools may or may not have changed what one can and can't do from a teaching and learning perspective beyond what I can read at the Google run community. Here at Penn State we have a handful of faculty really taking advantage of these tools, but are doing it without us having any official relationship with Google -- that means no real identity tied to their use and a less than clear idea of policy. I think these tools can be part of a huge shift in teaching and learning and I could really use some help by hearing some real world stories. Comments, emails, and Twitter responses are all welcomed and much appreciated.
Most of us have used the suite of tools under the Google Docs moniker to do all sorts of collaborative things. Giving us a web-based, multi-user version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint has been a good thing. I've had my ups and downs with the tools since the Writely days, but I think in general they are a very powerful and flexible set of tools. This is so clear when working in committee or as a student working in teams -- the idea that you don't have to shuffle individual documents back and forth is an amazing benefit.
Yesterday during class we demonstrated the Google Docs suite to the students ... most of them had seen them and we didn't see too many jaws drop until I showed a new feature of the spreadsheet app -- the ability to create web forms that actually dumps data back into the originating spreadsheet. This new feature was announced by Google just a few days ago and it makes the act of collecting data very straightforward and I would even say stretches into the online survey space. I read this morning over at Daring Fireball that there appears to be a 5,000 row limit, but that is a hell of a lot more data collection than you can do in many free survey tools.
It is so easy to make work ... just create your spreadsheet and share it. In the sharing area you can now select an option "to fill out a form." That's it ... select it, get the URL and send it out. Amazing that if you are in the google spreadsheet as people are filling out the form you see the data come in. I created a little form to test it out ... fill it out for me! It also appears as though you can publish the spreadsheet with the data live updating.
One thing I don't see that would really make this even more handy is a little web clip of code that I could drop my form on my blog or in a place like ANGEL. I checked it on my iPhone and the layout is great and it works ... sweet for mobile data gathering applications. Nice little step forward.