I was invited to sign up for Office Live Workspace Beta and gladly took the offer. I see Live Workspace as a perfect cloud-based collaborative tool, especially for the college environment where sharing ideas, class notes, peer edits for papers or journal articles, etc., are all paramount to the learning environment. Right now Workspace supports almost all Office software. Word files, Excel files, and PowerPoint files can be uploaded and downloaded straight from the cloud onto a local terminal for editing or collaborative discussion. One of the best things about Workspace is its ability to transform and streamline workflow.
This last semester, I was helping a classmate write and edit his research article and had to either wait for him to meet with me or wait for his email to come through. From there, I would have to download the file via USB flash drive or via email attachment. After editing or marking the draft up with suggestions, I would have to save the file, email it back, or put it on my flash drive and retransfer it back to him. Although this works, the file saving and re-saving sometimes meant I would litter my computer with drafts that are useless. The workflow definitely could be better.
Enter in Live Workspace. Workspace downloads and installs a toolkit where you can save and open directly from the Workspace. Cloud storage, meet Microsoft Office. Sort of. Although I can save and open from the Cloud, the program I use the most is not included (yet) in Workspace. Word, Excel, PowerPoint… but no OneNote 2007. It’s absolutely true that OneNote utilization at my university is painfully lacking, which is probably anecdotally true for the majority of people who use OneNote versus more familiar programs like Word or Excel. Collaborative learning and studying using OneNote or PDFs of OneNote files, note-taking and sharing only happened between 3 people in my classes. It only happened when we were all physically present and hooked up to the school’s network. That’s 3 out of approximately 200. Granted, having the option of exploring the limitations of OneNote in the Cloud should be included now while Live Workspace is still in beta form.
If Microsoft would implement OneNote support in Workspace, OneNote’s sales would greatly increase, especially if Microsoft makes a proper PR campaign touting the advantages of using Office within the Cloud. Cross-platform implementation where Apple users (a significant percentage of college students use Macs) can also use Live Workspace will definitely help foster a truly collaborative learning environment that is software based and will boost sales of Office software across platforms.
In the coming weeks when school starts up again, I will be revisiting this topic. Hopefully I can get a few of my classmates to join me in the Live Workspace Cloud and I’ll report back on how well things work between computers and the Workspace Cloud. If there are things you’d like for me to look at in Live Workspace, or if you have suggestions on how to use Live Workspace, please share them. I’m always looking for ways to improve workflow.
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