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Basing a PLE on Google Apps?

July 21st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I’ve just spent some time organising my Google docs into folders. Why? Because I have so many of them.

I used to use a very old version of Microsoft word for mac on my desktop machine. When I found it would not deal with docx formats I moved over to open office and Neo Office J. But at the same time I started using Google docs because of the ability to share documents. In fact I had already been using Wordly before Google bought it. However, it seems that Google sat on Wordly for a long time. Although Docs sort of worked it was still clunky compared to a desktop word processor. But with the latest upgrade to docs it now seems a better working environment than any of my local word processors. And off course I can access it from any of my computers or from my phone.

But what excites me is the casual and simple collaboration that online documents enable. Of course wikis always had that functionality. But somehow most of my experiments with collaboration with wikis didn’t quite work. People were unwilling to change another person’s work. And the mark up code was off putting for many.

Furthermore it is very easy to see who you can build an online portfolio using google apps or even a Personal Learning Environment.

So what is the downside? In one word – Google. Do we want to trust our working environment to a mega large multi national corporation making most of its money out of advertising. I sued to be sure that I did not. But now I guess I am getting more pragmatic. Google apps offers a lot of functionality and is free. Especially in present economic times free is good. Of course Google could disappear or do something I hate so much I do not want to use their software any more. But I am backing up my docs to a local version anyway. In some ways the debate is similar to the issue raised at the PLE conference in Barcelona as to whether institutions should be providing PLE applications for learners. My conclusion was that I do not really care who provides a Personal Learning Environment, as long as it is controlled by the learner. And as long as Google continues to allow that degree of control I can see myself increasingly using their applications. At least they are not Blackboard!

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3 Responses to “Basing a PLE on Google Apps?”

  1. …and now my PLE/Google Apps is portable.
    Since last week I’m using a smartphone with Android…Now I can synchronize all Google apps and using it with a lot of other tools… even with Twitter 🙂
    I feel I have reached another level of management in my PLE…Now “I CAN” control it anywhere… 😉


  2. Manish says:

    Google App is a PLE – give you that.
    When I talk about CLEs I talk about the existence of PLE and an institutional open VLE.
    In that put Google Apps in the centre allowing PLE tools to coexist and interoperate with the institutional tools /LMS/VLE.


  1. as long as Google continues to allow that degree of control I can see myself increasingly using their applications. –

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