Google Plus for Collaboration

Photo of a man on a video conference callSeptember 2013
From NICHCY’s Quick Tips for Disseminators series

How are those
conference calls
going for you?

We’re on conference calls all the time — group calls to collaborate on a presentation, project, or event. Talking with colleagues from around the country is great, but wouldn’t it be so much more engaging to see them? And even better, to look at documents together?

You can, you know. Hurry on over to Google Plus.

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Google Plus is free, and full of features

To take advantage of Google Plus, all you need is a gmail account. That gives you free access to:

  • Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), the social media functionality of Google Plus;
  • connection to common interest communities (K-12 Education, Common Core, Educators on Google Plus, etc.); and
  • free video conferencing for up to 10 participants.

Oh, and you’ll need a webcam, too (small camera that sits atop your monitor).  Come on, now don’t be shy! Be seen as well as heard. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll enjoy seeing everybody’s faces, including your own! It really is the next best thing to being there.

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How can TA&D projects use Google Plus?

For Google Hangouts! (Yes, they’re really called that…) For virtual staff meetings. For virtual conference calls with partners and colleagues. For fun.

At CPIR, we hang out on Google Plus three times a week. Face to face virtually, we start the week together, prioritize our work, share ideas, and then stay connected throughout the week.

We also use Google Plus to “user test” new website features. So did NICHCY. Sharing their screens in Hangouts, for example, the NICHCY team was able to view its National Organizations interface in different browsers–Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

Screenshot of a NICHCY Google Hangout.See the screenshot at the right? The top part is the main window all staff were looking at (the National Organizations Gateway page). See the 4 small square images along the bottom? Each one shows the Gateway page in a different browser. All staff had to do was click on a square, and the full image appeared in the main window.

Live action testing! Moving from browser image to browser image, we could look together for any differences or issues in how the National Organizations Gateway looked in those different browsers.

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 What you can do

Check Google Plus out yourself: All you need is a gmail account (and that’s free).

Start using Google Plus to connect with your satellite offices and remote staff. It’s a great way to stay in touch, and it gives you an immediacy of togetherness.

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