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AWESOME Dissertation :: Blog :: Google Docs

June 27, 2007

A short piece of feedback on how Norman Gray and I put together our proposal for the recent JISC capital call (the theme on semantic tools).

I was also involved in helping two other groups submit proposals to the same call (different themes) - never again! But in those cases, I created a template in MS Word and sent it out to others in the group. In one case where there was only one other person working on the proposal this worked ok - he added bits, sent it back to me and so forth - proposal ping-pong.

In the second case, there were three or four people writing the proposal so I sent it to one who added her bits; she sent it on to the next person and she added her bits etc. It went around the loop a couple of times then ended up with the PI to pull it all together. Not too traumatic but messy.

Back to the proposal with Norman. I created the template but Norman suggested we use Google Docs instead. So I transferred the template to that environment (we both had Google accounts), removing all the formatting. This worked incredibly well. We could each see what the other had written; there is a list of all changes made and the ability to compare versions though I didn't try that. At several points we were both editing the document at the same time and Google coped perfectly - not sure what would happen if we both changed the same piece of text at the same time.

We also made use of Elluminate. After using it for the online Emerge event, I was sold on it. Since you can have a free room with up to 3 other participants, I created one and Norman and I met in it three or four times. At the beginning, we used the room to discuss what it was we were proposing to do - based on an idea of Norman's that we collaboratively extended and elaborated - using the whiteboard to load diagrams, sketch architectures and just talk. Later we used it much as we would have Skype, chatting as we together made changes to the document.

After a while, we had blocked out enough of the document and both had much the same understanding of what it was we were proposing to do, so we assigned bits of the document to each other and got on with the writing. Two or three days before the bid was due, Norman took the raw text, formatted it using LaTeX and produced the necessary pdf file. Then we just had to sit back and wait for others to come up with letters of support and budget templates (my fault for notgetting these organised earlier).

All in all, I was impressed with how well the collaborative tools, Google Docs and Elluminate, helped us in pulling the proposal together and I hope this brief write-up encourages others to try them out.

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Posted by AWESOME Dissertation - Tony Linde


  1. Dear Tony,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is really an impressive collaborative experience and a great example on how free e-tools can be used to support such activities so effectively.

    Way to go!Wink


    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Thursday, 28 June 2007, 09:08 BST # |

  2. This is an interesting account - reinforces my sense that what we need are models of using and blending existing technology and ways of developing insight and judgement into what works well in different contexts  rather than a one-size fits all / silver bullet approach.  I am impressed with googledocs, which Aisha introduced me to quite recently.  I liked Elluminate too, once I actually got there...

    Rebecca O'RourkeRebecca O'Rourke on Friday, 20 July 2007, 11:26 BST # |

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