Use google docs/gmail for church agendas?

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kisaac
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Use google docs/gmail for church agendas?

Postby kisaac » Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:39 pm

What is the general thought about google Docs for church-related information? I know several have mentioned the use of google docs for agenda creation for presidency and leadership meetings, because of the collaborative nature of it. I have used it myself for a shared lesson schedule between three instructors, and loved it.

I would love to use it now as I prepare agenda's. However, as these agenda's data can be sensitive (PEC, welfare or a bishopric meeting, for example,) is anyone concerned that a third party (not the church) is hosting your information on Google's end? Or, that we have no guarantee of privacy from Google for Docs, or gmail?

Yes, I understand email from any host can also be subject to the same concerns. I also know about Google's HTTPS service, and use it for their gmail and calendar.

Any thoughts about email, Google Docs and the safety of our private information?

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:02 pm

kisaac wrote:What is the general thought about google Docs for church-related information? I know several have mentioned the use of google docs for agenda creation for presidency and leadership meetings, because of the collaborative nature of it. I have used it myself for a shared lesson schedule between three instructors, and loved it.

I would love to use it now as I prepare agenda's. However, as these agenda's data can be sensitive (PEC, welfare or a bishopric meeting, for example,) is anyone concerned that a third party (not the church) is hosting your information on Google's end? Or, that we have no guarantee of privacy from Google for Docs, or gmail?

Yes, I understand email from any host can also be subject to the same concerns. I also know about Google's HTTPS service, and use it for their gmail and calendar.

Any thoughts about email, Google Docs and the safety of our private information?


Our bishopric uses Google Docs for agendas and some other items. (I'm not in the bishopric, so I am not privy to all the details.) I believe these leaders are careful not to upload data that was exported from Church systems, which does seem to be coloring outside the lines. But agendas are not exported from Church systems.

Slightly off-topic, but without further light and knowledge this rule would also seem to preclude uploading to Google Calendar (a different Google service) data exported from the LUWS calendar.

As a practical matter, I don't think anyone should put anything in Google Docs that they would not prudently include in a private email to the parties having access to the content.

faazshift
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Postby faazshift » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:00 pm

I've personally gained a lot of trust in google, but for highly sensitive church information I would agree that it needs to be kept in a highly secure place, so caution should be taken when trusting any third-party with sensitive data. For things like calendars, less-sensitive docs and even, for the most part, email, I think google would be fine, but thats just my opinion.

chriswoodut-p40
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We use it

Postby chriswoodut-p40 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:03 pm

We actually use it a lot and as a new exec secretary, I can't imagine my life without it. We use it for all meeting agendas, sacrament meeting programs, appointment lists, when people last spoke, when people last prayed in sacrament mtg, when people did prayers/spiritual thoughts for meetings, email lists, etc.

I have some serious complaints about the unit websites and the lack of some basic fundamental abilities. Due to the limitations of the unit website, we're forced to do a ton of things outside of the systems.

The biggest complaint THIS WEEK is that our ward website admin cannot update email addresses on the website. Therefore, our EQ and RS groups have created their own manual lists and email methods. Because the RS didn't BCC people, the email list has gotten out and sisters are using the list for non-ward things. The EQ is using a listserv. Terribly inefficient, ugly, and outside the website.

However, given the limitations, we are now pushing hard to get people to use the website as the main repository for the calendar items. We are forced to work around it where we have to, but we would LOVE to use it more if it did what we need. I don't think anything major has changed with the unit websites since I first saw them 7-8 years ago.

Hopefully the new MLS update this month will be tied into the website so that we can maintain cell phones and email addresses and not rely on the members to do it. Honestly, 90% of them don't care if it is outdated.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:36 pm

chriswoodut wrote:The EQ is using a listserv. Terribly inefficient, ugly, and outside the website.


And most likely against policy.

LUWS is getting an update, but it will take awhile.

Note that members can update their email addresses on LUWS. From a past post from an employee, the admin's inability to change it was a deliberate decision.
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kisaac
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the "What If" game...

Postby kisaac » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:31 pm

chriswoodut wrote:We use it for all meeting agendas, sacrament meeting programs, appointment lists, when people last spoke, when people last prayed in sacrament mtg, when people did prayers/spiritual thoughts for meetings, email lists, etc....

...our EQ and RS groups have created their own manual lists and email methods. Because the RS didn't BCC people, the email list has gotten out and sisters are using the list for non-ward things...


I guess that's my point. This new technology came faster then the protections we needed for it. What do we call sensitive, and what is merely private? If I have a bishopric appointment is that sensitive, or private? Really, most of what you list might not be extremely sensitive, but it IS private, and not for public display. If it is not understood in context, many things could be embarrassing to individuals, harmful to missionary work, or even dangerous in indiscriminate hands.

I call it the "what if" game. "What if" a "list got out," but this time it wasn't the RS sisters spamming the list with candle parties and Avon on the side. What if a YW cell phone and email list, maintained on Google docs by YW leaders, (and NOT exported from a church computer or system,) "got out" because a well-meaning exec secretary accessed this "google docs" list to make YW bishopric appointments. Perhaps he did so wirelessly (and innocently, yet unprotected) and the YW names, emails and cell phone numbers list was "hijacked" in the process without his knowledge? Would that panic anyone?

Tithing settlement lists, YM or YW basketball practice schedules, hundreds of emails, and on and on. We create them all every week to run the church. How to protect all of this "private" INFO and yet get the work done efficiently?

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:38 am

kisaac wrote:I call it the "what if" game.


Which is exacty the game you are playing, it seems to me. It is a game that any number can play, and they can extend the same "what if" game to cover any medium. One has to wonder at the consternation caused when the new "three ring binder" technology was introduced decades ago: "What if a bishopric member imprudently leaves a sensitive binder unattended?" etc. The common sense answer is, don't do that.

The applicable policies are mostly statements of general prudence. We learn correct principles and govern ourselves.

So long as you apply the same prudence to Google Docs that you apply to email, you should be fine. If you wouldn't put something in an email, don't put it in Google Docs.

chriswoodut-p40
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Postby chriswoodut-p40 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:30 am

RussellHltn wrote:And most likely against policy.

LUWS is getting an update, but it will take awhile.

Note that members can update their email addresses on LUWS. From a past post from an employee, the admin's inability to change it was a deliberate decision.


I realize not allowing the admin to change email addresses was a choice somebody made, but the effects of that choice are worse than the admin changing email addresses.

Effects:
- email addresses change regularly
- people don't update their own email addresses on the site
- email list is now not very accurate
- all organizations start maintaining their own individual lists
- people stop looking at the website because of bad data
- people stop posting to the calendar because nobody is looking at it
- nobody uses the site

I created our EQ email list and maintained it for 3 years outside of the website because nobody could update the website.

During tithing settlement, we're going to take the time to get people signed back up with the new LDS accounts, update their email addresses, and try to get the site back on its feet. Honestly, it is just a matter of time until things fall into disarray because of the email issue.

I fully support using the site, but the site needs to be modernized (new features) and not hobble our ability to use it. I don't think much has changed with the unit websites since they were rolled out and I was the ward website guy 6+ years ago.

dannykos
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Postby dannykos » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:32 pm

at least you've got access to ward & stake websites! welcome to Europe… aka the dark ages ;)

All I dare do with google is host a private ward calendar with no sensitive info attached.

chriswoodut-p40
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Postby chriswoodut-p40 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:34 pm

dannykos wrote:at least you've got access to ward & stake websites! welcome to Europe… aka the dark ages ;)

All I dare do with google is host a private ward calendar with no sensitive info attached.


If our ward was more dispersed, I would think the electronic tools would be even more crucial. I guess I shouldn't complain too much!

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