Free Google Mail, Calendar & Docs Training

Last week, we talked about the extensive, free training resources available for learning Microsoft Office. We highlighted the new Ribbon Hero interactive, game-style training.

This week, we’ll focus on Google mail, calendar and docs and where to go to find training for these popular programs.

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I signed up for gmail about three years ago and have my mail coming into my Outlook where I prefer to manage it. I’ve also used Google’s flexibility to have it pull email in from some of my POP accounts. It’s great to have the ability to see my mail accounts either while traveling or from the familiarity of Outlook.

Google mail, calendar and contacts are all accessible from your gmail screen. The Google calendar is especially popular and powerful – mainly with people who own smart phones because it’s easy to load  to their phones and it can be synced with Outlook, Windows Live, Plaxo and I think with the Mac platform as well (not a Mac person).

After Gmail came Google Docs. A free and very stripped down version of Microsoft Office (in my opinion). Google’s also made it easy to collaborate and share documents rather than email them around. Microsoft similarly has a way to both upload and share documents. You can read my article about it here.

Back to our focus on finding some free training for Google mail and docs. The University of Minnesota evidently uses Gmail campus-wide because they’ve published extensive help resources accessible to anyone.

Their Google learning site contains on-line lessons, instructional videos, downloadable study/instructional guides and a searchable repository that seem very complete.

image imageIf you’ve ever been puzzled or curious about all the things you can do with Google Mail, Calendar or Apps, the basics as well as some advanced material is covered. Additionally, Google has an extensive support site as well.

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Google Mail and Docs have become quite popular with small businesses, students and people who don’t want to pay for mail and office applications. There is the issue of backup and accessibility of our email, calendar events and documents. There are ways to access mail off-line (not sure about documents). The privacy/security issue seems to pop up as well. If you’re a person who stores credit card numbers, insurance policy numbers, etc. on your local machine, how will you feel about it being in the cloud? Maybe not so secure? Something to think about. Google is free, useful and accessible, but for me, I enjoy the Microsoft familiarity. They are also coming out with cloud apps and the ability to work and compute virtually. We’ll talk more about that with another column.

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