I was excited when we decided to discuss Google Docs, since it is a suite that I have been working with for a while. Currently, I am already utilizing it in our work at the main desk in my hall and am always looking for ways to expand my use of it. However, while researching this suite, I learned even more about how I could utilize it.

To start, after googling (of course) “google docs use in colleges, the first link led me to many templates and forms that are meant for use by resident assistants and hall staff: https://docs.google.com/templates?q=resident+assistants&sort=hottest&view=public&pli=1

While I have been using google docs for work with my RAs, I didn’t realize they knew people like me were doing this and creating documents for us to use! I am so excited to take a more thorough browse during my next free minute at work to see what all I can use now and in the future.

Another website I found showed how students can utilize google docs for note-taking, which may be valuable for our class, since we have some collaborative note-taking that we have to do: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hack-college/use-google-docs-to-collab_b_844192.html

And it seems to me, that from the research I have done, google docs is a great resource for me to use in my work. Currently, we have a google account which is specifically for use at our main desk. It is used to send out emails to students (so that student staff don’t have to do it from their personal emails), track who is supposed to be working both on main desk shifts and on-duty on the google calendar (they have the ability to see the calendar, not to make changes, which is done through my personal account), and for spreadsheets during closing. The major benefits that we have encountered with managing things through the google account is that we can all access the information on it from anywhere. With the nature of my work (while I technically work 40 hours a week, I actually need to be available to my student staff most all hours of the day). So, I can be at home in my apartment, or even out on the go (now that I have a smart phone), and can check and edit things on the google calendar or google docs. This has been especially helpful during closing, when I will need to access spreadsheets at home and at work. Using the google docs suite also allows me to have multiple people editing documents or spreadsheets. We utilized this during closing, where we had two staff members working on our closing roster to constantly get updates of rooms that needed to be checked.

From all appearances, this software appears to be extremely accessible. Google even has a website that discusses how to make even more accessible, for instance, to people with low vision or who are blind: http://www.google.com/accessibility/products/. An electronic way of keeping track of documents and forms should be inherently more accessible, since a screen reader can’t be used with a paper form. Also, the fact that it can be accessed from multiple places and by multiple users means that users have more options for how, when, and where they access the information. Also, the google suite allows you to track changes, which would be helpful for those who like to see their progress over time. In addition, the variety of services, such as word docs, spreadsheets, presentations, email, calendar,  blog, form, drawing, photos and even websites, means that the suite can be utilized in a multitude of different ways.

I am super interested to see what others experiences are with using the google suite since I feel like it is one of the (if not the) best options available for doing these types of things. It seems to be very accessible, as well as secure, which would be great for utilization at main desks, as well as by hall staff in their work with paraprofessional staff, such as programming forms duty logs. If anything, I am excited to see what I can come up with as far as ways to utilize this software more in my work in the future!