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Project Planning and Management Tools: Group Thinking and Writing through Google Docs

This week we came up with the gameplan for our “Detroit Digital” project, and used a variety of tools to help us in the process. Along with the variety of ‘group tools’ such as collective brainstorming, individual written reflection, and small team discussions we also used the following digital tools: Google Docs, Base Camp, and GitHub. In the first (and most difficult) stages of our project, we had to come up with a project that stitched together the broader narrative and doable specifics of data. This process was incredibly challenging and involved a lot of reflective thinking and discussion. However, Google Docs and Google Docs Spreadsheets was incredibly helpful as a platform for multi-staged collaborative thinking and writing.

We used google docs to compose our official vision document and a more detailed workplan. As a platform Google Docs is simple, sleek, and has a low barrier of entry (fully on cloud, no need for account, although a linked Google account makes things more manageable). As a space for collaboration, Google Docs can be very effective if tasks for a group are specific rather than general. For example, when writing up our vision document, only a handful of individuals contributed to changing the text while the majority of the group added comments to the side. Although the comments were overall helpful, they did not move the process forward without a more thorough in person, followup discussion. Furthermore, Google Docs does not ‘track changes’ in the same way as a word processor that allows for clearer comprehension of who made changes and what was changed from the original document. However, when given a more specific task such as full authorship on a particular section of the workplan (a great idea by our wonderful project manager Taz!), Google Docs was an effective planning tool for a group to quickly contribute, discuss, and amend.