I’ve spent the day in Melbourne learning about Office 365 and doing a lot of thinking. That, to me, is what is the most valuable thing about professional learning days away from school – the chance to think and wonder without the pressures of ringing bells, pending yard duty and the ever present little people.
My hopes for today were to find out more about the online, collaborative version of Office which I have had very little experience of. Obviously, like most citizens of Earth, I have more than a passing familiarity with the Microsoft suite of products but had opted for Google Apps at my previous school for our online solution. Despite a few little quirks, I’m a big fan of Google and all it spits out but wanted to keep an open mind and scope out any potentially useful tool.
So, how did my pondering go? Good and not so good. Office 365 does everything it says on the (virtual) box. And, like Google Apps, there are quirks and ‘we’re going to build that functionality’ moments. OneNote looks particularly interesting although, knowing my generally questionable organisational skills, I could see my notebooks turning into repositories for all flavours of junk. Forms doesn’t impress me as much as Google forms did.
The problem with all of this is that a phrase about swings and roundabouts comes to mind. Which one to choose? My current school uses neither so I have to think about their needs in introducing a new tool, not just my own personal preference. Very hard to do when both tools really have the same offerings, are just as pretty as each other and have (some) support and backing from our Education Department. Both are able to achieve the goals we need – a collaborative tool for staff and students, an online repository and easy, cheap access to up to date and useful software available across multiple platforms.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, arguments for one or the other and things I might not have considered so that I don’t resort to flipping a coin. In a perfect world, I’d sign up for both and use the best bits they each had to offer but our ICT journey needs to take baby steps at this point so we’re starting with one. Over to you…