Drawing Tool Added to Google Apps

Google Docs now includes a web-based drawing tool, which is perfect for collaboratively authoring diagrams, concept maps, and flow charts. Of course, the Google Docs drawing tool is also excellent for solo work. Collaborating on visualizations is typically impractical because of desktop software compatibility issues, cost, and limited dynamic sharing of drawings.

With the Google drawing tool, collaborative work is practical since everyone uses one common suite of drawing tools. Just as with other Google Docs documents types, such as presentations, spreadsheets, and documents, drawings are dynamic. That is, you may publish your drawing for public view, share and collaborate on your drawing with a peer or group of peers, as well as provide a link to your drawing in a email, or embed it in a website. When you update and save your drawing in your Google Docs environment, this action dynamically updates embedded or linked copies of the document, allowing you to make changes in one environment rather than every location you share your drawing.

The toolbar includes over 100 shapes, various line types, and an assortment of background, fill and border colors. It is easy to upload images from your computer to be displayed as part of your diagram, or grab an image from the web via the Google image search box provided. All Google drawings may be exported into to common file formats, such as jpg and png.

Google Drawing Tool Templates

Google drawings can be easily embedded into the common Columbia electronic publishing environments. For example, adding a drawing to a Wikispace page is a breeze for students and faculty alike. First grab the embed code for any drawing by clicking on the Share option of the drawing tool and select "publish as web page..." from the menu provided. Confirm that you wish to publish the document and copy the embed code provided. Then, simply use the Wikispaces Widget tool to embed the drawing anywhere you want on the Wiki page. See sequence below.

Google Drawing Tool Embed Code

Google Drawing Tool Embedded in Wiki

Add as many drawings to one page as desired. Drawings may be added to Courseworks and EdBlogs in much the same way. When it comes time to update the document for the class, student and or faculty may sign into Google Docs to make changes to the drawing, and all saved changes will show up automatically wherever the drawing is embedded. The sharing feature of Google drawings make it a great tool for collaborative concept mapping as well as creating design specifications for a group project. Group users may maintain edit status of the document while allowing select class members or the public to view.