Oh Google! Don’t you just have a monopoly on my life right now. You probably already relish in the fact that I am signed into my gmail account and blogging on my blogger account, and printing off directions from Google maps so that I can find a cannery in Kent. But no, you want it all! You want it all! You want me to create all of my documents in you. It’s as if you are saying that I no longer need Microsoft in my life (you know I could do without it) and I should give myself completely over to you.
This week it was our assignment to create a presentation using Google Presentations. This is an online version of a document creator that is similar to PowerPoint. The program itself has little by way of features and I felt myself quite limited as opposed to PowerPoint where anything is possible. This is probably best illustrated when I tried to embed video. PowerPoint will let me embed video from anything that has a source code, but in Google Presentations, I am only allowed to embed content that is found on Google Video. Now this wasn’t necessarily a problem because Google Video has any video that you need to find on the web — but if you are looking for some specialized video content, it just won’t cut it.
I was also disappointed in the lack of design features on Google Presentations. Without the ability to add in my own custom fonts and backgrounds, I can easily see myself getting sick of using the same theme several times with Comic Sans as my font of choice.
The great part about Google Presentations however is the ability to collaborate, and this is the main reason that we used the tool in our online class. For that purpose, Google Presentations is a great tool. It allows you to see what your team members are doing in real-time. You can quickly review the slides and give comments to others, without the need to merge multiple copies of the same file. One thing that is difficult about this collaboration however, is that it is tied to your Google account. You first need to get someone’s email for their Google account and then you have the ability to share the document with them. I would rather have it that the whole process is merged into the LMS for the class. Can’t Google make some kind of deal with Blackboard to get this integrated?
Our group was tasked with a challenge to create an online presentation about Creative Commons (CC). I am familiar with CC, as I have had a librarian come in every quarter and talk to my students about copyright and CC, however it wasn’t until this week in class that things came together. I am really interested in the concept of CC, and I understand much of it, but I am still not sure how CC technically works with the copyright office — I think that I might have to do a little bit more digging into the history.
Collaborating on this project was difficult in the online environment. While Google Presentations made it easy to create the document as a group, the online format of the class made it difficult to organize the research process. Planning a project like this as a group takes some real-time synchronous conversation rather than relying on a discussion board. I think that some kind of chat program meet-up would have been a good start to this project, and then we could review each others work and discuss using the discussion board. In light of that, I think this type of assignment would work well for the hybrid classes that I teach. These classes meet once a week online, and once a week face-to-face. The ftf time could you a forum which students could start the project in, and then they could use Google Presentations to collaborate online.