Collaborate Editing

Outcomes for this lesson:

  • To achieve a sense of professionalism in communication on behalf of organizations.
  • To learn strategies that build a team workspace.

Why this maybe important to you:

  • Projects tend to be a collaborative process that requires coordination and strong communication to achieve desired goals.



Google Docs has evolved over the years to be a real collaboration powerhouse. Many of you have probably collaborated on a group Google Doc for a midterm or final study guide. There are actually lots of fine-tuned options that you can use to get more out of the collaboration process. Watch the video embedded below for a very concise explanation of how to invite others to collaborate and the various tiers of permissions that can be given to people you share with.

Similarly to the ‘tracking of changes’ function in the word-processing applications you learned about in Lesson 1, Google Docs has a function called ‘suggesting’ that is nestled under the mode-function in the form of a pencil icon to the top right of the document you are about to edit. By choosing this function the changes you make will be identified as yours, and others have the possibility to approve or reject them. See the screenshot below for where to locate this function.


After watching the video embedded above, check our post on sharing and collaborative editing here.

Also check out these blog posts about extending and hacking Google Docs and Google Drive

File sharing is the ability to share or transfer files, documents, photos, etc. from one computer to another through the internet or a network. There are various platforms to choose from when sharing files. File sharing is amazing because you can collaborate and share information over various computers and to so many people! Academically, this is helpful when you need to back up files or even send images for a presentation to your group mate! Although it may take some time to upload everything onto the cloud, and file size does matter, it’s all good because your files and documents are accessible to you and others (safely and securely for the most part!).



Dropbox is helpful when saving files for your own use, but also for sharing with friends and family. You can back your files up to the cloud, sync them between computers, then share! Dropbox is cool because you can monitor and check what has been updated and downloaded in chronological order. Even cooler, you can quickly install apps and manage all your files to stay incredibly organized! Create an account and save the Dropbox application onto your computer for easy access!



Media Fire is more geared towards music files and other types of visual media. While Dropbox syncs files across computers, Mediafire allows you to upload and share folders to then be downloaded by other users. Free accounts start at 10GB. You can share files via Facebook and Twitter, and other people can use information without an account. Mediafire is good for personal use and for sharing smaller files, such as music. However, it lacks the sophistication for office spaces, especially because you cannot protect folders using passwords. Thus, items are not as secure compared to other file sharing options.

Google Drive


Google Drive is great for organizing files shared with multiple people that are contributing to the files, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. It’s nice because a a creator of a Google Doc, you make the editing decisions and control who can see the information. Best of all, it stays organized and updated within your personal drive, which is connected to your gmail account! It works well for integrated systems, like UCSC, because all students already possess a Gmail account through their emails. This allows individuals to have access to these services to utilize them as collaboration and file storage spaces. Google Drive is great for backing up projects, papers, and presentations, but is difficult to collaborate on if active internet is not available. Also, the storage space is limited, thus you need to purchase more space if you need to store more files.



WeTransfer is useful because you can share very large files or zipped folders of files. You can zip your folders full of pictures and share this with co-workers or peers through an email notification. Rather than going across computers and syncing files, you are sending a direct email through WeTransfer to a specific individual. However, file space is limited (10GB) and it does take some time to upload then send the file through the site. This is nice if you already have a project stored in a folder on your desktop, and you wish to share it directly with another individual!


Doodle is the scheduling solution that can free you from the tedious email threads that clutter up your inbox with eight different people conferring on their respective availability. Identify a few potential windows for the call or meeting you’re trying to schedule, and ask everyone who needs to be there to identify all the times that could work for them (not just their preferred windows). Doodle makes it easy to spot the time slot that works for all of them, or as many as possible. Doodle is amazing for finding out the ideal time for meetings and group activities without the struggle of individually calculating everyone’s free times! It makes scheduling a breeze. The only problem: the Doodle will delete itself 2 weeks after you create it; so save the info! To use Doodle, you need to create an account (or connect through your Gmail or Facebook). Then, select “schedule an event” at the top right corner of the page. From there, name the Doodle, select dates, and add time proposals! After, simply type in the names of all the people you wish to take the poll!

An example of what a Doodle poll looks like!


What you can do as an administrator on Doodle:




People who are effective managers of their own schedule are people who let others down rarely and succeed often. Calendars are one of the most under-utilized and misued pieces of technology out there, so it’s something that’s worth taking the time to use right.

What Do We Mean By “Calendar”?

It can get confusing when we talk about calendar applications becuase “calendar” can refer o different things. Here’s a good way to conceptualize it. Calendar is used in two main ways:

  1. The series of boxes with numbers in them
  2. Collections of events that are tied together by some theme

Seires of Boxes

Picture a calendar on the wall of the place you grew up in. It has twelve pages, one for each month, and each month is a grid with numbers in each cell, denoting the day of the month. This calendar tells you what day it is and nothing else. This thing we call a calendar is important and actually a complex feat of human ingenuity (see the numerous misguided attempts to change calendars), but its use to you is limited. It doesn’t have much utility until you start adding events to it.

Collections of Events

Again picture the calendar hanging on the wall in the house you grew up in. Maybe it had pictures of galaxies or firemen on it or maybe it was one of those promotional calendars you get at the hardware store. It’s a fair bet that your parent or guardian had scribbled some important event into one of the events.

February 19, ‘Grandma Coming’
January 19, ‘National Good Day Day’

This right here is why people use calendars. Our lives are full of time sensitive events, and calendars are the best way to plan them.

Hence, when we talk about “calendars” in life, what we’re really saying is “collections of events that are tied together by a theme”. Calendar just sounds better.

Google Calendar—indeed, all digigital calendars, are based on the idea of creating multiple, discrete “Calendars” organized around the various categories of event in your life.

You Have Lots of Calenars

You’ll do much better in your calendar life if you acknowledge the fact that your time sensitive life events fall into different categories and use this fact to get more organized. Don’t put everything into the same calendar or you’ll soon find that your calendar will be a cluttered mess.

Personal Example

I, Thomas the Tech Director, currently have ten calendars in my Google Calendar, sorted into two groups: Personal and Work

  • Personal: For things that help me keep my personal life organized
    • Personal – General: For all non-specific events in my life, like shows I might want to go to, friends’ birthdays, etc.
    • Fitness: For keeping track of race dates and various fitness goals
    • Home: Keeping track of various tasks around the house like cleaning surfaces and watering plants
    • Sunrise and Sunset in Santa Cruz: Because I’m a geek and like to know that kind of thing
  • Work: All of my work-related calendars are shared with the other EP staff as well as other people
    • Thomas: When Chris or Katie look at their calendars, they can easily see what appointments I have. Likewise, I have access to a similar calendar of Katie’s appointments.
    • Grant Deadlines: We’re always writing grants to try and get funding for our work
    • Everett Fellows: The shared calendar for all Everett Fellows containing events of concern to them
    • Everett Program: The calendar that Katie, Chris, and I share for events that involve two or more of us
    • UCSC Academic Calendar: A calendar that UCSC will share with anyone containing all the important deadlines like Add/Drop/Swap (October 14)

The point of this list is to get you thinking about how it can be helpful to delineate the various spheres of your work, school, and personal life. By separating calendars, you can choose to hide some and leave others visible, thus reducing the visual clutter. Give it a think: what are your calendars? How can you best divide your life? No matter what the answer, everyone here has at least one calendar in common: Their class schedule.

Creating a New Calendar and New Event

Many students will create a calendar each quarter that will display their class schedule every week for the rest of the quarter. We’re going to go through how to do that.

To create a new calendar, follow the Google Calendar Documentation. Or look at this picture. Why not make your schedule?


To create a new event like “SOCY 105A”, you can either double click on the day it occurs, or hit the big “Create” button on the left side of the calendar. Once you’re in there, you can choose the time span it occupies.

Recurring Events – Setting up Your Quarter

Once you have created a new calendar called “Fall 2015 Schedule” and have added your first class to it, you can then make it repeat on all the days it will occur. It would take forever if you manually added it for the rest of the quarter!

Click the checkbox that says “Repeat…” and it will allow you to chose the parameters for this recurring event. You can have it happen on multiple days in a week, every week. Equally important, you can choose when it will stop occurring. It may feel like the quarter never ends, but it does and you don’t want to have outdated information clogging up your calendar. As you can see in the image below, this event, “SOCY 105A” is set to recur every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00-11:45 until December 3 which is the last class meeting.


Now if anyone needs to see your schedule, or you want to have a better idea of where your time is going, you can just use this calendar!

Sharing Calendars

As we’ve alluded to many times in the previous sections, calendars may be shared. It’s one of the best features of web-based calendars. Mulitple people on a team can know exactly what others’ appointments are and schedule accordingly.

To understand how to take full control of sharing, refer to Google’s official documentation:

Syncing Calendars

Some people would prefer not to use the Google Calendar interface, and use a desktop application instead like Apple Calendar or BusyCal. Things have gotten a lot simpler these days in terms of how to sync your Google Calendar data onto another calendar application, so we won’t spend much time on it other than saying, go to “System Preferences > Internet Accounts” and add your Google account.

Quick and Dirty Collaboration with Etherpad

Etherpad is an open source online editor that allows you to very quickly and simply edit collaboratively. It’s not as pretty as some other proprietary collaboration tools, but sometimes you just need to quickly get something up.

How Do I Use Etherpad

You need to go somewhere that hosts them. We like Riseup is a collective dedicated to providing secure communication channels for activists.

To create a new pad, just type in

Where “Anything” literally means anything you want. Whatever you type in will be the address of the new Etherpad you’ve created. Click on the link and sign your name! You can also go to and enter in the name of your pad, but why bother?

See One Here

Embedded below is a live etherpad. You can type on it and anyone else looking at it can see your changes and make changes of their own. Here’s a thought, why not collectively take notes on a pad?

When Are Etherpads Useful?

Basically anytime you want to be able to collaborate with others but don’t want to bother with Google Docs or other software.

You Need Ad Hoc Collaboration

In case you were wondering, “ad hoc” means something done or formed for a particular purpose only. Sometimes you need to take quick poll, share some links really quick, or otherwise communicate with a large group of people but don’t have time to take down everyone’s email addresses, create a google doc, wait for everyone to log in, blah blah blah. With an etherpad, you can just have everyone type in a simple URL and you’re off!

 Explain the homework! Feel free to ask clarification questions!

Homework Assignment

Follow all directions to this assignment. It is a long, but simple assignment. Make sure to submit all files with the correct labels and turn it in on time.

Get on The Google Doc

I have created a google doc that will be shared with all of you. I want each of you to edit and make a comment on the shared document. (Link to Document Here) Email me at if the link does not work for you and you need alternate access.

  1. Create 5 edits to this document. When making the edit on the document make sure the ‘Suggesting’ function is selected (see above lesson on collaborative editing if you need a refresher).

Sign Up For Dropbox and Share Your Email

If you don’t have one already, sign up for a Dropbox account preferable through the DropBox Campus Cup link.

In class or on the etherpad post you dropbox email and the leader or facilitator will share a folder [TE fall 2015] with you. In this folder it will have an individual folder for each of you. THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL PUT ALL YOUR SKTICH FILES [9 in total at the end of the assignment work]!!

Take a Screenshot

Take a screenshot of the Dropbox application installed. Make it of the window showing the application is on your computer. Example:


Blur out any important information that you would not want to the NSA to see.

      –Label this:

  • first initial +last name.skitch.db.png ex. tswitzer.skitch.db.png


Create a doodle poll and email the other designated group member you were assigned in class (find your group here). If you were not in class, just email to get a group.

  1. Take a screen shot of the page that shows the email invitations to your doodle poll before they are sent.
  2. Take a Skitch of the poll that one of your group members, sent you after you filled it out.
  3. Take a Skitch shot of your poll after your group members have completed it.

     –Labels these:

  • first initial+lastname.mydoodle.png [this is for the one you have sent] ex. tswitzer.mydoodle.png
  • first initial+lastname.doodleresponse.png [this is for the one you have sent] ex. tswitzer.doodleresponse.png
  • first initial+lastname.doodlecomplete.png [this is for the one you have sent] ex. tswitzer.doodlecomplete.png

Google Calendar

Subscribe To A Calendar

Use this link to subscribe to and add the UCSC Academic and Administrative Calendar .

Create a Calendar of Your Schedule

Make a new Google Calendar of you fall quarter class schedule. Call it “Fall 2015 Classes”. Important: Create a new calendar. Don’t share your default calendar!

What Info To Include

  • Your classes, labs, sections, etc
    • Set these to repeat until the end of the quarter for the specific time, days, and any notes you will need for the event!
      • end the events before finals start!
    • Include the locations (room numbers)
    • Give Lectures a blue “Event Color”
    • Give Sections a yellow “Event Color”
  1. Share this calendar with the the lab leader and facilitator at AND
  2. Take two separate screen shots of two week views. We want to see that the events are repeating each of those weeks.
  3. Take another screen shot of ONE event editing screen, showing the event repeating, location filled out, and the correctly chosen event color for the event selected.
  4. Take one last screen shot of  the left side bar of the google calendar page that shows that the UCSC Academic and Administrative Calendar has been synced to your calendar (e.g. it shows up under the list of ‘other calendars’.

     –Label these:

  • first initial + lastname.calweek1.png ex. tswitzer.calweek1.png
  • first initial + lastname.calweek2.png ex. tswitzer.calweek2.png
  • first initial + lastname.eventediting.png ex. tswitzer.eventediting.png
  • first initial + lastname.leftsidebar.png ex. tswitzer.leftsidebar.png

Submitting the HW

Place all Skitch files [8 IN TOTAL] in your folder of the shared drop box TE fall 2015! There are no files to email in this week, only screenshots to be added to the dropbox folder, the Google Doc to be edited, and the Google Calendar to be shared.