One Stop Resource for Google Docs

If you’re a Google Docs user, curious about Google Docs, work with Google Docs with students, and especially if you’re looking for help understanding all of the features of Google Docs, then you’ve got to bookmark MaryFran’s Google Docs Tutorials.

Created as a Google Site (of course), this is a huge collection of resources, tutorials, videos, … all devoted to helping the visitor understand the ins and outs of working with Google Docs.

That’s really the best description I can think of to describe this site.

Navigation and use is as simple and powerful as Google Docs itself.

Just select a topic of interest from the left side navigation menu and read on.  Screen captures are included along with complete descriptions of just what activity is being discussed.

Google Docs users – make sure that you bookmark this resource.

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Customize your own Google Chrome


Warning – slightly geeky post this morning.

But, if you’re a Google Chrome user, I’ll bet you try it at least once!

How many times have you looked for a Google Chrome theme that says “Hey, this is me…” and failed?  You’ll end up going back to the defaults or compromising on something close.

Well, no longer!  Head over to the Google Chrome Store and download “My Chrome Theme“.

It only takes a few seconds … once installed, go ahead and launch the application.

You’re there!

Follow the three steps and you’ve created your own theme.

Step 1 – If you’d like an image on the opening background, upload it from your computer or use your Webcam to take your perfect image.  Read the fine print at the bottom before doing so…your content will be uploaded.  The first time I ran this, I used an image that had already been posted on this blog – the image with Kerry, myself, and David Pogue digging my car out after the big snow storm at the RCAC Symposium a few years ago.  It’s one of my favourites but, for me, a background image really isn’t usable since I use the Incredible StartPage anyway which overwrites the image.

Step 2 – Choose some colours!  Active tab, background tab, background tab bar, background area.  Or, the infamous Google “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

If you know me, you’ll know that there aren’t enough shades of green to keep me happy.  I thought that pinky/orange was a nice contrast.

Step 3 – Install your theme.

If you’re so inclined, share the themes with others.  Just keep in mind the caveat about the images.

Wasn’t that easy?

You now have that perfect theme for yourself.  Or, if you’re using Google Chrome with your class, you could pop an image of the school and populate Chrome with your school colours. Or….


New View on Collaboration

So, yesterday, I read the article “Watch This Author Use A Google Document To Write And Edit A Book In Real-Time“ and headed over to see what it was all about.  It was very cool and lived up to the expectations.  Silvia Hartmann was writing a book titled “The Dragon Lords” and you could watch it happen on your screen.

It was created in a Google Document here.

Admittedly, this was really taking a chance but it was all there.  Every time I went to it though, there were too many people online to get the full features but I got enough to get the idea.

What an interesting concept!  It makes you wonder about the wisdom of walled gardens.  This would be an interesting activity for students but if they’re locked behind a firewall requiring passwords/logins to their work, it just wouldn’t happen.

But imagine the opportunities for education!

Imagine the following messages going out to one’s PLN.

  • “I’m writing a lesson plan on photosynthesis online here.  If you are teaching the same thing or are an expert, please help me out.”
  • “I have an essay due next week and I need some insights on horse training.  Can anyone help me here?”
  • “I’m writing a blog post on a ‘New View on Collaboration’  Want to throw in your two cents?  Do so here.

Our traditional view of sharing involves going to a repository and giving or taking.  What if it involved co-creating with someone anywhere who might be more of an expert than you?  What if you left a Google Document open to the world, with editing permissions, and asked for some help.

What would happen?

This post is available here for you to make better.

If you do make any changes, could you let me know where you’re from?  Twitter name too if so inclined.

3:28 – 32 viewers
3:37 – 35 viewers
10:17 – 54 viewers

I use Google Docs routinely in class. I let the students have their fun the first time they experience simultaneous collaboration (writing dirty words, deleting other students’ content, etc.), but after that it becomes a serious tool they never abuse (especially after I show them I can track all revisions!).

I find that, even though they can view all other students’ work, they rarely edit or make suggestions on other students’ work, unless I specifically make it part of the assignment. Interestingly, they don’t even ask others to review their work, even though they know it’s super easy to do so.

I have also used Google Docs to collaborate on province-wide writing projects. The ability to add comments specifically directed (and emailed) to certain authors (by pre-pending + to the email address of the author) makes it a very powerful and effective tool.

Your idea about collaborating on a lesson plan is an excellent one, but it’s something that I have never seen done outside of sponsored, paying writing jobs. I have my own theories about why that is, but those thoughts are best shared over an adult beverage, not in a public document.

I believe Zoe has a public document that does not require a password to edit. Perhaps she can shed some light on her experience with that.