With the release of Microsoft Office 365 for Education this summer, we now have a platform that is perfectly suited for both Business and Educational sites. The primary advantage of Microsoft Office 365 over other products like Google Docs is the offering of online versions of Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, and Microsoft Lync 2010. Microsoft Sharepoint is a package that has, from its inception, been designed as a collaboration tool. These packages will allow a user to work on the same document on virtually any platform, from Smart Phone, to Tablet, to Macintosh, to PC, without ever needing to have Office installed on their system and while still keeping the fidelity of the document intact.
On the educational side, we can now offer every teacher and every student an e-mail account, online document storage, and video and audio conferencing for free with Exchange 2010 Online, Sharepoint 2010 Online, and Lync Online. We have also been looking at ways to replace paper, both at an administrative level, as well as at a teacher and student level. Microsoft Infopath can be used to build forms that can be used to replace teacher requisition forms, inventory tracking, and many other day to day uses of paper. Students can now use Microsoft Sharepoint to store their documents in the cloud, which gives them the freedom to work on their school work at home without the need for USB drives or notebooks, while still using the software they are used to with the online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Teachers can also have their own classroom site to communicate with their students as needed via surveys, forums, blogs, and wikis.
As part of our summer project schedules, we plan on implementing Microsoft Office 365 at Parkway West Career & Technology Center and at Beaver County Career & Technology Center. The BCCTC is in need of an e-mail server upgrade, and we have opted to move all faculty and students to Microsoft Office 365 to upgrade them as well as provide the students with the additional resources they need. At Parkway West, we are doing a hybrid install as we have local Microsoft Sharepoint and Exchange servers on site, however we want to provide the students cloud storage and e-mail accounts for their day to day needs.
– John Sanderbeck, Questeq Infrastructure Engineer