Google Docs – offline option coming with Google Gears plugin

I’ve been spouting to anyone who’ll listen about the great things Google are doing to provide free options rather than having to fork out hundreds of dollars on software like Microsoft Office. It’s going to be revolutionary for schools once people realise the benefits of a system that allows you to store your documents online, access them from any computer anywhere in the world and have the abilty to share the document with others so that many people can collaborate on the one document. It’s another leveller and will enable schools with limited budgets to save money that they they then move to other areas of need – perhaps the purchase of more computers to enable their students to access what Google now offers everyone. I love the idea of storing documents online – major computer crashes will no longer be the major disasters they can be if you’re storing on the Web rather than your hard drive.

One of the drawbacks had been the fact that you needed an Internet connection to access your documents -there was no offline functionality. Well, Google have adressed this and an offline option should be available in the next few weeks. Google Gears, which currently operates with Google Reader, is going to be enabled to work with Google Docs to allow offline functionality. tech2news around you has said this about the new development;

“Over the next three weeks or so, Google will turn on the feature for all word processor users, giving them the ability to view and edit documents while offline. During the same time period, Google Docs’ spreadsheet will gain offline ability for viewing, but not editing, documents.

Google Docs’ third component, an application to make slide presentations, will remain for now without offline access. However, Google has plans to extend the offline access to it and to other hosted services in the Google Apps suite, of which Docs is part.”  

Any work done offline will be automatically synchronised with Google Docs servers when you reconnect with the Internet.

This makes selling the good news about Google Docs a whole lot easier. I hope the message spreads and that people in the wider world who don’t operate in these networks find out about what is possible now. That’s why it’s vitally important that we as educators who know these things spread the word. Google Docs is an ideal way to set up collaborations between groups of students within a school, and collaborations with classrooms outside of your school both locally, nationally and globally. I hope to explore these possibilities with students at my school this year.  

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