Google Apps are all about integration. As a suite, the apps can work independently, but content from one app can be pulled into another. And many appslike the calendar, collections made in Docs, and Sitescan be shared with others to enable productive group work.
Google Docs provides a rich framework for drafting and editing collaboratively. Documents can be created, shared, and organized in collections, while commenting is made easy through a simple interface and threaded display.
Any changes made to a shared resource on Google Apps, whether a shared spreadsheet or a calendar event, will be updated immediately and synchronized with shared users' accounts. These seamless, automatic updates eliminate the need for announcing changes to shared resources.
Google Docs, the document creation and sharing app, is a well-designed collection of document types and sharing options. Google Docs allows the creation of spreadsheets, surveys, presentations, and traditional documents. Users can also create collectionsessentially foldersto organize their documents, and collections can be shared, automatically sharing all of the documents contained within. Files can also be uploaded and added to collections. Thanks to the ease of sharing collections and the fact that updates are synchronized automatically for all users, Google Docs is an excellent space for students to work on group projects and collect shared files and resources.
Google+, a social networking site, offers "hangouts," or synchronous video chats. These video chats can be accompanied by a screen for live editing of a document or sketch (called "Extras") if desired. Up to 10 people at a time can participate in a Google+ Hangout, making it a useful option for holding class remotely. Betsy Sigman used Google+ Hangouts with Extras in her Database Development and Management class; read her story in the Spring 2012 edition of the Prospect.
Google Sitesincluded with the Google Apps suite at Georgetowncan be used for building simple websites. Simple to set up and maintain, a Google Site can serve as a course site. Faculty can set up pages, attach files to those pages, and add their syllabus as a dynamic list. They can then share that site with their students. Depending on the need of the faculty member, student users could be given simple viewing privileges, or they could even be given editing privileges, making it possible for faculty to have students use the site as a wiki-type website.