The “Cloud” and how it helped PDENG

March 9, 2009

I’m currently in my fourth work term and that means that I am currently enrolled in the fourth installment of PDENG… 45. This particular offering of PDENG is quite different from the others because of one major component. We are required to work in an asynchronous group to complete a response to an RFP (Request for Proposal)! I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, I’ve never had to work in a group where we could never see each other and have never met each other. It was going to be a unique and challenging experience. Going into this project, I had no idea how it could’ve possibly worked. I was very much interested in meeting my group members and finding out what kind of solutions we could come up with. I was not so much interested in what we were going to write in our response (though very important), but more so how we were going to execute the whole project. Now, at the end, I must say that I’m thoroughly impressed and very thankful for the internet, online web applications and cloud computing.

In the beginning, our plan was to use a content management system (such as Drupal) to check in all our changes and additions. However, that concept was ditched very quickly =P. No one wanted to download and check in every change, every time. So, we decided to use  GoogleDocs to store one document and everyone would just add their contributions to that one isolated (but shared) document. We even used GoogleTalk to have all our group meetings! So, the communication and content was handled by the services offered by Google. If it weren’t for these two applications, our jobs would’ve been much harder. We might’ve had to send a document around every single time a change was made. That would’ve been hard to keep track of changes because, some might add or edit an old copy of the document. GoogleDocs was definitely something we took full advantage of.

I really liked how it allowed multiple people to be working on the same document. I remember at the end of the project, we had 4 or 5 members all editing the document to finalize changes. This definitely saved a lot of time. If we only had one copy, only one person could work on it at a time, otherwise the document may be out of “sync”. It was really nice to see how technology evolves and even affects how courses are taught.

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