Google offers mobile editing on Google Docs–with many restrictions

This morning, Google announced that smartphone users could use its Google Docs site to edit documents on the go, says Rob Pegoraro of Faster Forward. Make that some users, on some smartphones, editing some documents. The addition of mobile editing capabilities to Google Docs’ word-processing component (its spreadsheet application gained that feature in February 2009) is subject to limitations that shut out much, if not most, of its potential audience. First, you need to run the right device. Google supports most iPhones and iPod touches, as well as the iPad. But if your phone runs Google’s own Android software you need the latest, 2.2 release. The Mountain View, Calif., firm’s latest numbers show only 36.2 percent of active Android devices have this version. Second, the document in question has to have been created with the new editor Google launched in April. Older files, even if you’ve worked on them since April, are ineligible for mobile editing. On top of this uncoordinated mix of functionality and the lack thereof — something I’m more accustomed to seeing in other companies’ web efforts — you need to have this feature turned on in your account…

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Some colleges have second thoughts on Gmail

Sixty percent of colleges that outsource eMail services use Gmail, according to a 2009 survey.
Sixty percent of colleges that outsource eMail services use Gmail, according to a 2009 survey.

A small-scale backlash against Google’s free eMail service and applications has included at least three prominent universities this year, after many colleges had begun moving to the outsourced Gmail system to save money and simplify support.

The cloud-based eMail system has appealed to college students since Google launched its campus Gmail pilot in 2004, educators said, and Google officials maintain that colleges continued to adopt Gmail even as negative headlines circulated this spring.

More than 8 million K-12 and college students use Gmail and Google Apps, according to the company.…Read More

Schools beef up security for web applications

Colleges are using web apps for more than just eMail.
Colleges are using web apps for more than just eMail.

K-12 schools and colleges are adding extra layers of security to web applications that are being used for everything from eMail service to group assignments. The extra security is particularly desired as administrators use the applications to store sensitive information that could compromise student and faculty privacy.

Google Apps has risen to prominence in education’s move toward web-based tools that store massive amounts of data and allow for collaboration. Google announced in February that 7 million students—about half of all college students in the U.S.—now use the company’s applications, such as Google Sites, Google Docs, and Gmail.

With invaluable information stored online and vulnerable to any hacker who can figure out a single password, administrators are looking for ways to ensure that student and educator data are kept safe with more complex security methods.…Read More

Has Google developed the next wave of online education?

Google Wave marks the next step in collaboration capabilities for group projects, some in education say.
Google Wave marks the next step in collaboration capabilities for group projects, some in education say.

Combining text, audio, and video chat with features like drag-and-drop documents and interactive polls, Google Wave is a free web program that could add unprecedented depth to student interaction, many educators say.

Programmers who designed Google Wave, a tool still in development and only available through limited invites, started with a question: What would eMail look like if it were invented today?

The answer is a format that merges social networking with multimedia in an online meeting space where students and instructors can see each other type in real time, conduct private conversations, and edit documents simultaneously.…Read More

The top higher-ed tech stories of 2009: No. 5

College campuses have become another battleground for Microsoft and Google.
College campuses have become another battleground for Microsoft and Google.

It might not be on par with the infamous platform wars between Microsoft and Apple that have spanned three decades—at least, not yet—but the rivalry between technology giants Microsoft and Google heated up significantly during the past year, with schools and their students as key beneficiaries.

Aiming to capture the loyalty of a future generation of computer users, both companies now offer cloud-based communication and productivity software to schools free of charge. It’s an offer that many colleges and universities acted on this year as they struggled to balance their budgets.

Microsoft’s Live@edu program gives schools a set of free hosted and co-branded collaboration and communication tools that include Windows Live Hotmail, a hosted eMail service, and Office Live Workspace, an online space to collaborate on Microsoft Office documents.…Read More