Monday, 22 August 2011

Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

Thing 13 looks at methods of online collaboration and file-sharing. Due to the nature of my work, I am almost never in a position where I would need to share files or collaborate online, so my responses to these resources will be fairly hypothetical. 

I am very much in favour of any program which releases people from having to fork out for Microsoft Office, so Google Docs has my vote. Anything which enables communication and file sharing at zero expense can only be a good thing. I can’t comment on how well it works with sustained use, as I’ve only had occasion to use it when opening attachments using my smartphone. They always open and view just fine, so as far as I’m aware it seems a very useful tool.

I signed up for Dropbox a while ago, following the logic that you can never have enough storage, and that it might come in handy one day. I haven’t had occasion to use it yet, but I like the idea very much.
Wikis are a fantastic tool for collaborative projects. I haven’t been involved in one personally, but colleagues in my building have been involved in an IT troubleshooting manual which has been very successful.  Although we have access to centralised ‘IT Support’, each site will have at least one member of library staff who is a designated point of contact in their building for basic IT problems. If the problem cannot be resolved onsite, it is referred on centrally. Obviously we want to resolve as many issues as possible onsite to ensure the best service for users. 

This is where the wiki comes in – the library IT reps can search it to find fixes to routine problems, and if the issue still can’t be resolved, they follow up the solution once it has been referred to central IT, and add the fix to the wiki, in order to help the next person who experiences that problem. The idea is that the wiki is written in plain English, lacking the jargon of official guides available on the web. It has particularly helped staff who work in the evenings and weekends, without managerial supervision or centralised IT support provision, as they can draw on the wiki as a source of information. Much better than telling the student to come back on Monday!

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