Learning about Google+ Hangouts, Drive, and Docs at #acenetc 2013

Today was the first full day of ACE-NETC in Indianapolis, IN… at least for me. The ACE-NETC conference is a place were Extension communication and technology specialists get together and help each other get to the next level. It is always great to get together to visit with people with whom I have been virtually working over the past year.

I started my day with a presentation by John Dorner from North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. Dorner gave two presentations this morning, and I attended both of them. They were both on Google products. The first was on Google Drive and Google Applications. He then presented on Google+ hangouts.

Google Drive and Apps

Dorner explained NCSU uses Google Apps and Gmail. Along with his ncsu.edu account, he also has an extension.org account, which is also supported by Google Docs. He primarily uses his edu account for day-to-day work and uses his extension.org account for his national work with extension. He can get to all his stuff on Google from any computer with Internet access. He exclaimed it is easy to share documents with others. No more email attachments. Everyone is always looking at most current document. Since he began using Google docs, he rarely uses Microsoft products.

He started his presentation by focusing on drive.google.com. He commented that any file type can be uploaded. These files can be subsequently downloaded in their native form or they can be converted to a Google file type and worked on directly.

One of the nice features that I was not necessarily aware of was that you can search Google Drive files for any file that has been shared for a particular group, for example, extension. I was not aware of this feature. This is a great find. I also learned a bit more about Google Templates.

Google documents

Dorner demonstrated that you can upload a word document and convert it to a Google Document or upload a Word document and leave it in that file type. Google can convert a PDF document with OCR technology. He pointed out that the word processor does not have all the features of word but has 90% of most common features. He added he would not write a newsletter in Google but would write the articles. He also demonstrated the power of collaborating on a document. One idea is to use it for meeting minutes.

While demonstrating the spreadsheet application, he showed us a function called unique. I had never used it but I can immediately see the potential. He uses it to keeps track of classes, attendance, and ratings.

With the presentation application, you can export the file into a number of different file types. He also showed that you can have the speaker notes on a different screen. Finally, the presentation could be included in a Web page using the embed codes.

Dorner mentioned that he uses Googles Forms for many reasons. One of the benefits of using a form is that you can embed it in another Web page. Forms can be easily summarized. You can also require people to log in to access a form thus capturing additional demographical information.

Google+ Hangouts

Later in the morning, Dorner showed us how to initiate meetings with Google+ Hangouts. He began by demonstrating simple one-on-one sessions and the various ways of creating a hangout. He then moved on to creating a hangout with multiple people. Unfortunately, the session was hampered by bandwidth issues. I learned that you can also call a phone number with Google+ hangouts.

He showed us how to create a hangout with a Google event. With the advance event options, you can tie the hangout to a YouTube broadcast. Here shared a checklist to help guide through the process of creating a Google Hangout: http://go.ncsu.edu/hangoutchecklist

When holding a larger event, he recommended having a moderator to help answer and field questions.

Dorner also demonstrated many of the Google+ Hangout features:

  • Screensharing
  • Window capture
  • Remote desktop
  • Document sharing using google drive.
  • Slideshare
  • Google effects
  • Symphonic whiteboard
  • Youtube

As usual, I walked away knowing more than when I entered the session. John Dorner had a great session.