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An Introduction to All Things Google

CC, Flickr user jurvetson

Here at ProfHacker, one of the things we like to do is share ideas about what’s working for us. A good number of us on the team find that we regularly use all things Google.

This post, the first in a series titled “All Things Google”, provides a quick overview of which Google tools two of us use, and a brief explanation of why we use them.

Future posts in the series will explore some of these tools in more detail.

A student’s perspective: Alex

What I use:

  • GMail: Hub of organization such as labeling, filtering, etc.
  • Google Calendar: Great for syllabus management, reminders for upcoming assignments, organizing and recording work hours
  • Google Documents: Where I have written almost all of my papers for my entire college career!
  • An Android-based mobile phone: More a sort of “away from computer hub” than a audio communication device.
  • Google Wave: Still feeling this one out, but liking the possibilities.
  • Google Reader: Keeps my to-read list in check.
  • Google Chrome: Love the minimalist, powerful browser from Google and it’s ‘web app shortcut’ functionality.

Why I use them:

  • While I had used many of Google’s tools independently, the purchase of my Android device really solidified my use of Googles. The integration of apps across the OS makes it really easy to access anything, anywhere.
  • As I am often floating between home, laptop, computer lab, and phone, I really appreciate the cloud quality of Google. Google makes apps that are powerful, cloudy, and–best of all for a starving college student–absolutely free!
  • I want to get on Google’s good side before it becomes sentient.

A faculty member’s perspective: Amy

The tools I use:

  • GMail: I have several email accounts, and GMail provides me with a centralized location for managing them all.
  • Google Calendar: I keep several calendars: one generic calendar, one for birthdays and anniversaries, and a few for holidays and favorite sports
  • Google Documents: I don’t use it for serious professional writing because I need more robust features than it has, but it’s a great place to keep track of my course notes, and I’m having my writing students use it for submitting their essays this semester.
  • GMail Tasks: I find this a good way to keep track of my to-do list.
  • An Android-based mobile phone: Even when I’m away from my desk, I can check in if needed. This is especially handy for calendaring; since I almost always have my phone with me, I don’t need to worry about accidentally double-scheduling myself.
  • Google Reader: I use it to keep my own reading list manageable, and it makes it easy to keep track of student contributions to class blogs.
  • Google Wave: To be truthful: I can’t really say that I use it yet. I just got my invite last week, so it’s more accurate to say that I’m experimenting with it.

Why I use them:

  • The key reason that I use Google’s tools is the easy integration among them. It’s very simple, for instance, for me to attach an email to a task, no retyping or creative filing system needed. I can simply create a task from the email, then go ahead and archive it; when I get to the task and need additional information about it, I just click the link in the task and I’m taken straight to the email.
  • I also find it very useful to be able to check my email, calendar, and task list from virtually anywhere. I use a computer at home as well as at the office, and I’m frequently on the go in between.

With that in mind, we kick off a new series at Profhacker: a collaborative discussion on interesting pedagogical, academic, and occasionally plan-old-cool uses of Google tools. We’ll be hearing from different members of Team Profhacker from week to week, each with different aspects of different Google tools they use.

What tools do you use for staying organized and productive?

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