Google has recently enabled some new features for document creation and sharing on it’s website. This is Google Docs. The features aren’t quite as rich as Microsoft Office, but if all you need is basic word processing and a spread sheet, this might be a way for you to save 400 bucks – and have access to your files anywhere you’re online. In fact, if you need to collaborate on a project with other users (think group projects) the documents can be shared and edited simultaneously. (Here is a preliminary review)
Now, in our setting, up on a mountain with limited bandwidth, there might be a few issues. One is that you must have a fast connection to the internet (although this might change) and, at 11 pm when the network shuts off in the dorms, students won’t be able to continue working. Although I don’t know if this is a bad thing.
One key item that’s missing from the package is a presentation piece (like PowerPoint) – although I’ve heard rumors that this might be available sooner than we think. What I would like to see is Zimbra to fully fold in a product similar to this (see my earlier post on Zimbra and MashUps) so that we wouldn’t be limited by the speed of our pipe to the internet to do our work.
I think that this upcoming academic year will be a year of testing and evaluating for us – especially of our wireless network to see if it can handle this kind of traffic.