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Module 8: Online Apps

Online Applications

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module you will:

  • Understand the purpose of online applications
  • Know how to use various online applications
  • Have developed ideas about the usefulness of online applications in the library

What are online applications?

The term “online application” refers to a variety of web-based applications. These applications allow you to complete many tasks that used to require specialized software to complete, such as creating Word documents, presentations, spreadsheets, editing images, and much more! Many of these applications don’t require a download, only a one time registration with the site. Furthermore, most of the services are free with additional benefits available for purchase.

Why are online applications useful?

The main advantage to using an online productivity application over their software counterparts is the sharing feature. This allows you to assign other people as editors of your document so that you can collaboratively edit them in real-time. Many of these applications have a chat feature so that you can discuss changes with your collaborators before making them. You can also control who is allowed to view your files by either keeping them private, selecting specific viewers, or making them public.

Another advantage to using online applications is that they eliminate compatibility issues as you move from different computers because all your work is stored online. However, many of these applications also have an offline access feature so that you can update your files without being connected to the internet.

What’s the difference? Choosing the right online application(s)

  • Google Docs: After signing in with your Google account, you can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings, similar to Microsoft Office applications. You can download your documents and open those using Microsoft Office (vice-versa), though there are some formatting issues with this feature. If you have a Blogger account, you can even post your files to your blog. Here is a video of some of Google Doc’s features.
  • Zoho: Currently has the largest variety of online applications. Zoho has email, word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, organizer, web conferencing, and much more! Every service has a free version, but additional benefits are available with payment. Every application is available in multiple languages. Furthermore, you don’t have to create a Zoho account to use their services. If you have a Google, Google Aps, Yahoo!, or Facebook account, you can sign in using those instead.
  • ThinkFree: Another online productivity suite, with services similar to Google Docs. In fact, you can sign-in to ThinkFree using your Google account instead of creating an account on their site. However, registering has fewer restrictions. It also offers a file convertor to PDF, text, or image formats.
  • Basecamp: A web-based project management application. You can create and manage to-do lists, workflows, project milestones, and much more.
  • meebo: An online instant messenger that works with MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and AIM accounts.
  • Snipshot: An online image editor that allows you to resize, crop, enhance, and rotate your images.
  • LibraryThing: An application for cataloguing your books online. You can even see what other people are reading.
  • LastFM: This one is just for fun. You can create your own personalized radio station and listen to your favourite music online.

How do I use these applications?

For the most part, if you have experience with the software counterparts, understanding how to use these applications should be straightforward. However, each of the above sites provides how-to guides, FAQs, and forums that will help you learn how to use their unique features.

How can I use online applications in the library?

Online productivity suites, such as Google Docs, are great for collaborative projects much like Wikis are. The advantage of using online applications over Wikis is the additional features. You can create presentations for department meetings, catalogue your books, manage projects, and much more! The real-time collaboration feature makes group projects much more efficient.

Some of the above online applications are already in use at the library, most notably meebo for our “Ask-A-Librarian” service.

Activities

Activity 1

Many online applications let you sign in using a Google account. In this activity, you will set up a Google account if you don’t already have one. Doing so will grant you access to many of Google’s features, including Blogger as discussed in Module 1.

  • Go to Google accounts (https://www.google.com/accounts/) and click on “Create an account now”
  • Enter your email address, which will be used to sign-in. It does not have to be a Gmail address.
  • Fill out the rest of the form as instructed. Now your account is ready for use.

Activity 2

Watch activity 2 here

Create a document on Google Docs and write some of your thoughts on this module.

  • Go to Google Docs (http://docs.google.com/) and sign in with your Google account
  • From the “Create new” dropdown menu, select Document
  • In the text editor, write some of your thoughts on this module. Format the text to your liking
  • Click “Save Now” in the top right corner
  • (Optional) Rename the document by going to File > Rename…
  • From the “Share” dropdown menu, select “Publish as web page…”
  • Click “Publish document”
  • Copy the URL that is given and post it as a blog post below
  • (Optional) Publish your document to your Blogger by clicking “Post to blog”

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send the URL (link) to your Google Doc to libweb20@library…To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image and paste it into the email.

Acknowledgements

This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

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