Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Collaborating with Google Docs :: Lose the Projector

I've designed a lot of A/V systems for a lot of applications and they typically have one thing in common: a big screen. Usually it involves a projector, but sometimes a monitor or TV is sufficient. Conventional wisdom has always been that the only way to show something to a group for collaboration is to project it on a large scale. Whether it's a projector in the boardroom showing a spreadsheet or a SMART board in the classroom with a drawing, display systems are designed to allow others to see what you are working on. But what if there was another way?

Enter Google Docs with it's sharing ability. In Google Docs you can create and share drawings, documents, spreadsheets, charts, and even slide presentations. Creating all that content in the cloud and sharing it is great, but it get's even better. That sharing happens in real time, which means if multiple people are logged into a document at the same time they can see those changes happening. It means instead of projecting that spreadsheet on a huge projector, everyone in the boardroom could just log into the same Google spreadsheet and see changes and annotations in real time. Have someone that needs to dial in remote to the meeting? No problem. They can simply conference call in (cheap) to listen and watch the presentation by logging into the same doc. Further, with the built in chat feature they can easily comment to the group.

How about the classroom? Could Google Docs takes on the infamous SMART board products? On some level they can. If you share a drawing, students can watch on a tablet or PC in real time as you draw, write, or color. Students can even interact with the drawing in real time right from their own tablets or computers. Further, this content is available later for students to review or show their friends. It opens up a whole new world to social learning. Or consider a "remote" for your projector. Project a Google Drawing on the large screen in the classroom and than pass around a tablet logged into the same drawing. Students can draw and interact with the screen right from their desk. No SMART products needed here, and about 20% of the cost.

I recently held an off site meeting at my house with my staff team and interns. Typically we would have used a projector or large monitor to show the document we where working from, but instead I simply shared my Google document as we collaborated in real time. It worked amazingly well. With Google Docs realtime collaboration you have the ability to loose the large screen and use the small screens that everyone already owns. For some of us that might work great for a permanent change, but for all of us that means we can at least hold a collaborative meeting with shared content even if we don't have a projector.

If you liked this post, you might consider my other posts on Google Products.

The Culture Equation

Dispelling the Google Drive "Ownership" Issue