Online Productivity Tools Workbook


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Workbook for online productivity class of SILS 20090 module at UCD Dublin. A range of single function products are included and the main focus is upon ZOHO suite

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Online Productivity Tools Workbook

  1. 1. Online productivity tools workbook 1. Starter activities 2. Listings of what is available 3. Main practical 4. Blog entry for this class Case studies of Google apps implementation in education and business a. University of Westminster b. Erith group 1
  2. 2. 1. Starter activities – the small but useful tools A. Doodle - an online scheduler. UCD Library staff do not all use an online calendar so we cannot use that to fix meetings of say 8 people. In the past to fix up a meeting of 8 people I had to: find 4 or 5 time slots that suited me; e- mail out to all 8 people to see if they were free on these; wait for their replies; create an Excel sheet to collate the replies myself, one row per son, and see if there was a free slot for the meeting. Nothing is provided to Library staff in the way of software to assist but I now use Doodle for this activity. This is a single function tool, no account needed, no download, works great. a. Fill out this dummy schedule I have set up with your availability (can just be fictional availability) b. Create your own meeting schedule to invite people to fill out: go to Click on “Schedule event” Fill out title and your name, that is all you need do for this dummy run Click on “Next” Click on 3 or 4 days when you would be free for the meeting you are trying to arrange – anything will do and the dates chosen go green one at a time Click on “Next” For each date chosen you can give several possible times for the meeting – just put in 10.00 or what you want for now – use 24 hour clock for pm times i.e. for 3pm put in 15.00 The Options button allows you to refine the result. For example make people pick just one date or just one time per date. For now though just click on Finish That is it! You get the “participation link” and that is what you would send out to all your colleagues for them to fill out. If you pay you get extra features, if you have an account the same thing – but at the basic level it works great without payment or registration. 2
  3. 3. B. Creating a quick diagram or outline of ideas Scenario: You find yourself away from UCD and your netbook/laptop/PC with the usual software. You have a sudden inspiration for an outline diagram for your assignment and have a spare few minutes. From your friend’s PC or the internet café or the hotel machine you can use bubbl – a free web applications. Try to create something like this totally fake example, done with bubbl – or substitute as you wish the names etc. is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online. It is designed for Mindmapping i.e. taking big ideas and relating them and breaking them down so there is not much option to change shapes, fonts etc, as it is not primarily for creating diagrams – it is very basic but it works well within its limitations Go to - Click on “Start brainstorming” big button Alter the text of this first buttle from “start here” to something else like “SILS web 2.0 course” buy double clicking on the text till it is highlighted The 2 key diagram builders will then be presented to you – to create another bubble at the same level click on “New Sibling” icon at the middle right edge To create a bubble one level below click on the “New child” bubble, bottom centre edge Play about with this product a bit to create some sort of mind map as you wish Even without registering you can use this software and Export your resulting diagram Click on Menu at bottom right of your screen and then choose Export Click on OK to confirm you want image and jpg format and then you can Open and/or save your image. 3
  4. 4. 2. What tools are available? Various listings are given in the delicious bookmark set at Titles starting “Applications available” can be tried out There are 1,000s of these online productivity tools available, it is daunting, you may be using some already yourself. good starting point manageable, lot of little small scale things like sticky notes, to do lists, in the list but not totally up to date… 1,000 plus at with a search engine. A good starting point though not updated for some months when last checked Take a look – focus on collaboration and time management sections. Google searches using advanced search and limiting to pages updated in the last year and something like “online tool* listing” as the search string brings up lots of other lists. profits.aspx focuses for example on a range of things for voluntary organizations so plenty of fund raising and accounting packages there – not all are free but costs are modest. has a broad listing including some productivity tools 4
  5. 5. 3. Main practical Google Apps is THE big suite of online productivity tools used by both individuals and organizations. Individuals can get a free account, organizations pay to use educational and business versions. You may already use google apps or you can explore that at your leisure – the main idea would be to use it as a replacement for Microsoft office applications Word, Excel, Powerpoint with Docs plus mail and calendar. is the core of word processing, spreadsheet, presentations. To make life easy today we will focus on packages where you do not need to have an account set up in advance, the idea is just to get a feel for how these products work and what you would use them for if anything. ZOHO is another big suite and we will use that today If you are already very familiar with these types of Office suite replacements then move on to trying out the other tools starting on page 11. Go to - as can be seen there are numerous modules on offer here… First of all click on New User? Sign up for free! (if you have an account with google, google apps or Yahoo you can use that) Otherwise fill this out, go back to your e-mail and a message will be there - confirm in there to get started – quite a few clicks to do here 5
  6. 6. You then get the account page like this: When you log in in the future you can go to your personal space, which will start showing your mail account but you then choose the application you want from the left panel and the display alters to show your existing files in that format like this: 6
  7. 7. We will focus on the core today – Writer, Sheet and Show but you can explore as you wish or delete your account after the session, it is just to get the idea of how these web-hosted suites work. This is a fully features suite of applications, you can only spend a few minutes on each one here. Writer Click on Zoho writer and wait for it to load to a welcome screen A welcome document will open up – you can read that if you wish, it summarises the main features. Otherwise click on New top left tab to start a new document (Note that you can import files in a variety of formats including Word too from the web or your computer) (If you would prefer to use an existing document to work on rather than create one of your own then in the search box in the left hand column key in “literatureonline” and a public document will be shown that you can use to play around with) After you have a bit of text in click the save icon (floppy disk top row of icons, the left-most one) and then give a name - you will see your file pop up in the left hand navigation panel then, highlighted bold as it is open and you are working on it. Continue to edit – does it cover the features you use in Word? Tables? Columns? Inserting images? The Insert tab covers a lot of this functionality Note the Share tab - various options here including making the document public in zoho and giving e-mail of people for read-only access or read and edit access. If you wish, give one of the people on the course access to share your document to see how that presents itself. Explore the template Library to the bottom left. You can use ready-to-go document templates of various kinds as presented here. You have to click on template library, and pick templates of interest to add to your own template listing which is initially empty. When you have had a little try out with this exit Zoho writer and move on to Zoho sheet – click on “Switch to” in the top bar and pick ZOHO sheet and wait for it to load… Sheet Try this out and create a new sheet and add a few rows and sums etc. (If you want to have an existing sheet to work on rather than creating a new one then in the search box at the left column key in this “Pageviews for Subject E-Resource Listings” and a file that I have made publically available will be retrieved and you can load and use that to try this out more quickly. How does this compare to Excel? The overall layout is similar to ZOHO writer with your files appearing in the left panel. 7
  8. 8. Again you can import data including Excel sheets and Comma Separated data (CSV) that you have saved elsewhere e.g. using local university Microsoft office Again you can save as and your new filename will appear in the left hand library. Try out the product for a few minutes and see if it works for you at the level that you use Excel, whether basic or advanced Are some things hard to find (how to format a cell as number, text etc?) Are some things easier (merging cells, formatting the text?) It again offers export and sharing capabilities to you. When ready save this and move to presenter – click on Switch to and from the drop down pick ZOHO Show Show You may want to watch the SLIDESHOW on the welcome page first. The product now includes ability to use as the core of a broader online conferencing type session, sharing your whole desktop and with chat etc going on. This product is in beta and has a slightly different layout – any existing presentations that you have appear in the main screen area not in a side panel as with the other applications tried so far: For now Click on Create New (if you are really not confident with things like powerpoint then use the search box at top right to key in “LIRMarch07” and you will retrieve a public presentation that you can play about with, but it is best to try and create one of your own) 8
  9. 9. Give name, description, some tags on what the subject is Choose a category and then a theme within it for the look and feel of your presentation – double click on your chosen theme to move into the editor Try and create 3 or 4 slides and see how you get on – those who use powerpoint a lot can compare the way it works, those who do not can see if it is intuitive Try inserting an image – there is clip art available via bottom right Or you can load in from Picasa, Flickr, or upload an image from your own PC and then use that. (For flickr you have to link to your flickr account if you have one – I had some problems with that) You can view the slides as a lightbox display and move them around or take a slideshow – both just as in powerpoint. You can also add notes to each slide again as in powerpoint. In the right panel there are 4 tabs – find the versions one. One of the good things about the online system is that if you make a hash of things you can revert to an older version, not something easily done with Powerpoint unless you keep many backup archived copies. When you have something save – you can save also as PDF note Export options – you can export out of Zoho in various formats You can go public with your presentation in which case people can search and find it and the product will function like Slideshare as well as a presentation production tool, you can also get the code to embed links to your presentation into web pages and blogs As with other modules you can invite other people to read or contribute by putting in their e-mail address(es) – do that now if your presentation is acceptable content Make remote is where you can set things up so that lots of people look at your desktop as you run the slideshow and comment etc on it so that a conferencing session takes place based on your presentation. 9
  10. 10. That concludes our look at ZOHO – they clearly envisage many users will run Office and Zoho side by side rather than totally shifting. To that end they have a plug-in for Office: “What all I can do with Zoho Plugin? The new plugin enables users to : • Create, edit and save their documents & spreadsheets directly to Zoho Writer/Sheet from within Microsoft Word/Excel. • Alternatively, users can open and edit their Zoho documents & spreadsheets in Microsoft Word/Excel and save it back to their respective Zoho services (Writer/Sheet). • Publish local offline documents/spreadsheets for the external world to see using Zoho Share.” An alternative all in one package - Zimdesk Want to try an alternative? Zimdesk – complete PC with applications and store etc all on the web, nothing to install, free. Not in the same league however, very basic. 10
  11. 11. Further individual functional options a. Flowcharting and Diagram tool – With Gliffy online diagram software, you can easily create professional-looking flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more. Go to Click on “Get started now” Provide the details asked for to get a basic 30 day account Click on Sign up now! And you should be ready to use the product straight away. You can have 5 free diagrams. You get a sheet of graph paper presented Choose one of the main types from the left panel – there are some fairly serious types of diagram offered or you can use basic shapes for a more elementary need – some options then offer further choices in left panel. It is a drag and drop system Right panel allows control on size etc – if you highlight a shape it also allows you to add colour and shading to it and adjust that. Also to decide if you want gradient and shadow effects or a solid fill Top panel allows you to add text, move things to front or back, add various types of line to join elements on the diagram Drag elements about your page to re-position them Once you have something ready to save click on save in the top panel To point to the online diagram or embed it click on point and share To export the file click across top on file | export as jpg | Save and pick a location 11
  12. 12. b. Writeboard Writeboard is collaborative online writing software from, makers of Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, and Ta-da List. Create, share and revise documents, and compare versions, subscribe to documents by RSS feed and be notified of changes. Free. This is very very basic – you have to put in “coding” to get bold, underline and so on, there is no easy editor. But it grows on you because of the speed of it for quick basic note taking. Go to Use to lower left panel to get started. Give a writeboard a name and password, give your e-mail, tick to say you agree to terms and then click on “Create the whiteboard” and you can start You see in right panel you can invite others to participate in the board and see versions and compare versions. This is one of the main attractions – joint working without the complexities of a wiki or a google docs environment. Click on that, add one or two e-mails and then click on Send invitation Click at left always to Edit the board As you see it is a pretty poor editor compared to say a wiki and in the right panel the basic markup guide is available to you that you need to use to get any effects you want in the text like bold – click on “formatting guide” to get an expanded set of options displaying above your board. Give it a try… for basic text notes Save as a new version each time or for very minor edits like spelling you can badge as a minor edit and save over the current version, handy once you get started with multiple editing. You can click on export at the top to download as html or text file. 12
  13. 13. c. And others… NumSum web spreadsheet, just does that, less complex than the big suites, sign up in 10 seconds Thinkfree If you need a Word document viewer, try thinkfree This also does lots of other really useful things like converting to pdf, sharing docs, embedding to a blog etc, worth a try WuFoo creating online forms and surveys and polls. Set up free account and 3 forms before have to pay anything CiteULike Portable alternative to Endnote or Endnote web for storing your references NozBe time and project management application with iPhone add-on 13
  14. 14. 4. Blog entry for this class The class has looked at the basics of what online productivity tools are, we looked at their use by organizations to replace traditional locally hosted software and hardware, but focused on the possibilities and freedom they provide for the individual to complement or even by-pass the applications provided by their organization Write 200 words on whether you see any use for any of these tools for yourself in relation to what the University provides for you in the way of software applications. Would you use these things, if so which ones and when? Are there any risks and dangers in it? Add a link to at least 1 online productivity tool of interest to you. 14
  15. 15. Case study 1 University of Westminster The number 1 large scale offering is Google apps , available since 2006- Here is their own summary of this: “Sign up today and Google will give you full online word processing, spreadsheets, its Gmail e-mail system, contacts database, photo storage and sharing, Google Earth and Google Maps, presentation software and blogging services, plus data storage for nothing. Companies have to pay, but the fee is far lower than for traditional systems.” Roger James on Westminster University's Google apps implememtation • The University decided to turn their student and staff e-mail over to a cloud based provider in the auttumn of 2007. They narrowed the supplier down to Microsoft and Google. After assessing the suppliers, the IT department asked staff and students who they preferred. Staff were split 50/50, but students overwhelmingly preferred Google. In June 2008 they signed the agreement with Google, and everything was set up ready for the students to use when they returned from their summer break for the new academic year 2008/09 • The University own the domain name, each google apps account, and all the e-mail addresses. If they want to delete a student's Google apps account they can. • Some people at the University were concerned that outsourcing e-mail to Google would mean that personal data was being stored outside of the European Economic Area ... Google have contracted to only store Westminster University's data in European data centres (although it would be hard for the University to verify this is actually taking place). Roger pointed out that before they went over to Google apps 96% of students auto-forwarded their e-mail to their personal webmail accounts (yahoo/gmail/hotmail etc), where the data was going out of Europe and also out of the University's domain. • The University rolled out Google apps to 1,500 staff, without training. In addition to e-mail Google apps gives students Google docs, Google video and Google sites. Roger was particularly impressed by Google video which has turned into a University of Westminster specific You Tube. They have only received 120 help desk calls since it has gone live. • Google apps has cost Westminster just £2,000 because Google offer it free to Educational bodies (Microsoft offer similar deals). Roger estimated it would have cost £1million to put an equivalent infrastructure in. Other universities that use it: School of Oriental & African Studies U of London, Glamorgan, Leeds Metropolitan In USA an example is Arizona State university, the largest US university, offering google apps to its 65k students. 15
  16. 16. And closer to home TCD use g-mail for their students. A key advantage is that you can keep the account when you leave university, unlike your local accounts. Not replacing the whole office suite however, but just the mail/diary side of it is a more limited ambition and approach. 16
  17. 17. Case study 2 Google apps at Erith Group Paul Driscoll on Google apps at Erith Group • Erith Group is a demolition firm, with 250 employees. They knock buildings down and clear up the mess afterwards. They became one of the UKs' first Google apps customers in the autumn of 2006. • Paul had taken out a 30 day trial of Google apps. By chance in the middle of that trial, a fire took hold of a nearby building. As a result of the fire an oxyacetelene cannister exploded, wiping out their server room, and denying the company access to its HQ for an extended period. Paul put all his colleagues onto Google apps, and the company have been using it for their e-mail and document storage ever since • Erith used to have seven servers, now they only have one (to host their accountancy system). Paul reboots that one server every Friday on his way out of the office. He doesn't have to think about servers the rest of the time. • Google apps costs Erith £25 per user per year. In the break he told me that he thought the actual saving was higher: a 250 person company typically requires an IT complement of 3 people. Erith get by with Paul as the only IT person. 17