Saturday, August 8, 2009

Free Collaborative Platforms for Teachers Part 5 - Glide Engage and OS Microblogging and Online Collaboration

Glide Engage is an ambitious service which attempts to capture and serve two of today's most popular online 'application' activities: microblogging and online collaboration. Surprisingly, it doesn't disappoint.

Glide Engage is built on the Glide OS 3.0 by TansMedia: Glide OS is a media-sharing, collaboration, and file-storage application and service that will run on all the popular Web browsers using Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, and it will also run on a number of the main mobile devices.

Glide Engage.

It has an amazing suite of features, here are a few of them...

Discussion Groups
Create public / private discussion groups. You can set permissions to define who does what, and you have the ability to save and export the content of a specific discussion into PDF or word processing document (great for teachers who need to manage and grade projects). Included is a group inbox/outbox, a contact manager, and file management to manage discussions.

Online Collaboration
Ability to connect to the Glide OS and have access to a suite of online collaboration tools (document writer, calendar, presentation software, photo editor, chat, bookmarking tool, web site authoring, etc.). The online collaboration workspace is called Meeting, and gives the user the control to invite, share, view, edit almost any type of file - yes, it does not have to be a native, proprietary file format for you to be able to share, view and edit, and this of course includes multi-media files.

Its proprietary-free environment is without doubt one of the key features of the Glide cloud computing platform; and when you combine the fact that it's also an OS and device-neutral (will work on Max, Linux, Windows, a number of mobile platforms, and let you edit any file type) then you really have a powerful application and service.

I believe these features [proprietary-free and platform-neutral] can make Glide an application which can generate some real buy-in from those who are new to collaborative tools and, like many of us, still continue to work with our desktop applications. Google Apps and Zoho are fantastic collaboration tools, but to transfer documents back and forth from desktop office tools to application tools still requires a conversion path. We know that the goal is to have students and colleagues do all the work within these environments but the reality is quite different, and that's where flexible apps like Glide Engage can really be successful - in bridging the gap between cloud application tools and desktop tools, and making more users comfortable with the idea of playing in the cloud.

One of the ways Glide bridges the gap between cloud and desktop
is by providing a syncing app that allows you to make your files in the cloud a constant mirror image of your files on your home, work or mobile PC.

Glide Document Writer.

And another killer reason to join the Glide community and use its collaborative platform -
10 GB of online storage. This is an immense amount of online storage space...for free.

Glide OS.

Microblogging

Glide contains a microblogging component which lets you post a message of up to 1,400 characters in length. This makes it a Twitter with substance - a microblgging tool that can actually be used for activities / work which are too involved for the 140 character marketing sound bite that Twitter has become. You can also embed media files and links in your posts with a single click (fantastic), set permissions to control public / private, and Engage users can invite non-Glide subscribers to participate in their Engagements via e-mail (an open feature which is sorely absent in many collaborative applications). The Glide Engage follower model is as such — the engaged are people who follow you, and the engaging are people you follow.

Immediately to the left of the microblogging input text area, is a social 'currency' dashboard of sorts with a list of news alerts you can customize, your latest files, and popular topics in the engagement space, a perfect mix for communications and collaboration.

While these are some great features Glide does have it's problems. Some of the more obvious are its clunky interface and the fact that Glide's features, workflow, and full-capabilities are not at all apparent to the new user. But all-in-all I think this would be a good tool for the classroom environment...it has immense flexibility, bridges cloud and desktop, has tons of potential for projects and team work, and offers a secure environemnet.