Thursday, December 19, 2013

Offline Access in Google Apps

Moving to a cloud solution like Google Apps brings with it the realization that most of the work that we do when using a computer is online. In places like Philippines, this can become an issue when not addressed properly at the beginning of Google Apps deployment. A common problem we face in the Philippines is good internet connectivity, and this then affects our experience in using a solution like Google Apps.

Everyone knows that Google Apps brings topnotch collaboration to organizations. In education, when coupled with Google+ Communities, it can even expand an educator's Personal Learning Network. But with the connectivity challenge, we need to ensure that our teachers and students know how to access and use the Google Tools even when they are not connected to the internet.

Fortunately, a lot of these Google Tools are accessible offline. Note though, that for Google Apps tools to be accessible offline in a browser, you need to use Google Chrome. You can definitely access Google Apps from any browser, but for offline accessibility, you will need to be able to install Chrome apps from the Chrome Web Store.
Here is a list of recommended Google tools and apps that you can install in your Chrome Web browser to help you work offline :

1. GMAIL OFFLINEGmail Offline beta is a Gmail app built to support offline access, allowing mail to be read, responded to, searched and archived without network access. After first start-up, Gmail Offline will automatically synchronize messages and queued actions anytime Chrome is running and an Internet connection is available. More than just an offline app, the streamlined user interface, based off Gmail’s popular tablet interface, provides extremely fast response time with a pure, email focused experience.

2. GOOGLE CALENDAROrganizing your schedule shouldn't be a burden. With Google Calendar, it's easy to keep track of life's important events all in one place. Know where you're supposed to be even when you don't have internet access. With offline access, you can view a read-only version of your calendar no matter where you are.

3. GOOGLE DRIVEWith Google Drive, you can now access your files, even the big ones, from wherever you are. Share them with whomever you want, and edit them together in real time. Offline access allows you to do an offline sync in your browser to view and edit your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings. You also have the option to install the individual Google Docs apps below, all of which work offline:

  • Google DocsDocs keeps everything and everyone on the same page. Add artichokes to a shared shopping list, or put the finishing touches on your business plan from the lobby before the meeting, right from your mobile device.  
  • Google SlidesSlides is good for shiny 6-pagers or 600 page snoozefests. Not only does it have everything you need to pull together an awesome presentation, but you’ll never have to hit “save” again. 
  • Google SheetsSheets is more than just columns and rows. Track your fitness plan, do fancy financial calculations with your team, or manage your fantasy league stats.
  • Google Drawings - Add some color to your documents, presentations, and websites with easy to create charts and diagrams.       

4. GOOGLE KEEPJot down a quick note, make a checklist or keep a photo. Everything you add is instantly available on all your devices – desktop and mobile. With the Google Keep Chrome app you can keep track of your thoughts via notes, lists and photos, add reminders to important notes and be reminded through Google Now, color-code your notes to help find them later and create and edit notes even when offline.

These tools will allow you to work off of a browser without internet access, and all edits will automatically sync as soon as you are connected. With these apps in place, you don't have to worry about losing the connection. You can go right ahead and keep working.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Google Apps for Education: Ushering a New Era in Learning

While traveling to different schools in the Philippines, I always pay attention to how much classrooms have changed from when I was in school (which was many years ago) to now. Being someone who shares how educators can use the web and Google tools to teach and expand their Personal Learning Network (PLN), I was struck by how much things remained stationary in the Philippines. The blackboards, when replaced, became whiteboards, which did not really help much when it came to modern teaching exercises, like flipping the classroom.

Filipinos are known to be incredibly social. By the end of 2012, 88.96%* of internet users in the Philippines were on Facebook. And now, with Google Apps for Education becoming an option for schools to offer messaging and collaboration accounts to students and staff, a lot of schools and universities have begun exploring what the web can truly do for them.

But the question remains, are we ready for this transformation?

Monday, December 16, 2013


Forming a company isn't the jazzed-up, spectacular event that some people describe. It is work that is not contained in an 8-hour day, and it is rife with sleepless nights trying to make sure that the cash flow is solid and will see you through the duration of your plans. It is oftentimes a struggle, but even then, when rewards come, they are great.

Me and my Indian partner formed Bluekore Inc. in the middle of this year to give ourselves a choice. We looked at what we do best and decided to offer IT consulting in three areas:

  • Google Apps for Education (GAFE) - I have been a Google Apps advocate since 2010 and have been deploying GAFE in universities in the Philippines for over a year now. In working with these educational institutions, I've found that in here, we can make a difference in moving our educators and students to learning in the future, today.
  • Business Analytics - Armed with more than a decade of experience in business intelligence and analytics, we realized that value in analytics lies not in the product, but in our ability to work together with decision makers and business users who are always hungry for more information to make their businesses more profitable and efficient.
  • Software Development - We looked at most companies' focus, and we believe that a good web and mobile strategy will work wonders for your business, when done the right way. Of course, for legacy systems and enterprise software which need not work in the cloud, we have experts who can work with you to maximize your product investments.
We aim to cover these areas and more in the years to come, and grow together with the technology of today.