Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Review. . . Google Apps

I'm on the road today, so this will be short and sweet. In fact, I may have done this before. If I have chalk it up to advancing age.

We have all used the Google search engine. In fact, "to Google" is now a verb. However, Google has introduced a number of useful new features that suit churches well where some tasks are done partly by volunteers and partly by staff members.

First of all, there is Google mail, or Gmail. To use any of the Google apps, you need a Gmail account. They are free and don't require hoards of personal information to register. Sure, it is the gatekeeper to the rest of the applications, but Gmail probably has the best threaded mail reader for managing high volume email environments out there. If you are on a high volume mailing list that generates lots of replies and replies to replies -- run it through Gmail. You will really simplify your life.

More to the point is the rest of Google applications. The one I use most is in Documents. I can set up a spreadsheet (or a word processing document) that is then accessible to whomever I give access to. So, I can set up a spreadsheet for class registrations. It is maintained behind Google's commercial level security. I can log on whenever and make changes. The church secretary can log on whenever and make changes, and we are both making changes to the same original. No one must be the designated official keeper of the list. You can give people read only access as well as giving them access that lets them make changes.

I haven't tried the calendar function, but I am told you can do similar things with calendars for scheduling purposes. I can imagine a small, young church using a Google calendar (or maybe even BaseCamp -- more on that later) for all church scheduling.

Log on and give it a look. See what uses you can come up with for this free and surprisingly powerful online Applications Suite.



Amy Stewart said...

you old lady, you :)

Leah Sophia said...

Hey, I've been using GoogleDocs for my word processing and spreadsheets for at least 6 months now. Since I routinely use several different computers in widely and wildly differing locations, it has been a perfect solution--far better than saving and re-saving everything on portable drives. For the class handouts I almost always prepare for my teaching and for a few other things I do a final formatting in MSWord, because it tends to print kinda funky from the GoogleDoc itself, but otherwise it has been just great.