In a big win for Xavier faculty, ITC recently "opened up" Google Drive for global collaboration.
What does this mean?
As you may know, Google Drive is a service for storing, syncing and sharing files. When Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps), all Xavier users got an account allowing them store files in Google Drive. You can access your files at drive.google.com.
However, files stored in Google Drive could only be shared with other Xavier users — until now. Now you can share your files with colleagues at other institutions around the world. (Please note that the new policy applies only to faculty at this time.) We anticipate this will greatly aid in your efforts at scholarly collaboration.
What's the benefit?
Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share a file in Google Drive. If you grant editing access to others, they can make changes; Google keeps the file in sync. You are less likely to run into the confusion that commonly arises when different versions of a document are edited by multiple contributors.
How to do it?
Sharing files with Google Drive is pretty easy, but not entirely goof-proof.
First, naturally enough, you have to have some files in Google Drive to share! I'm going to assume you already do; if that's not the case, a basic tutorial is available.
Second, navigate to the file you want to share in the Google Drive web interface. Remember, you can access your files at drive.google.com.
Finally, click the share icon for that file. (It looks like a little person with a plus sign next to their head.) You'll be prompted to enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to share with. (Names will generally only work for others in the Xavier system. For anyone outside Xavier, you'll need to use their email address.) You'll also want to specify the level of sharing. Do you want them to be able to view the file only, or to make comments, or to make edits? It's up to you.
But what about security?
Files uploaded to Google Drive are stored in the Cloud — on servers controlled by Google. You may have some concerns about what this means.
According to Google, your files are located in "secure data centers." There are some clear advantages. If your computer (or other device) is damaged or misplaced, you don't lose your data. You can get still get to your files once you get your hands on a new device.
Google also stipulates that "your files are private unless you share them."
When using Google Drive for collaboration, you'll want to observe the same common sense guidelines that you use when sharing information with anyone. If the data is sensitive, think twice before sharing it.
How can I learn more?
- Learn more online.
- Keep an eye out for ITC workshops.
- CAT+FD has a workshop on collaborative authoring planned for Thursday, 16 March 2017; stay tuned!