Microsoft has come up with a novel use for its online Office Live Workspace document sharing service. On a new website the company recommends that teachers should use the tools it provides to "continue the learning online" by sharing school work with any students that may have contracted the flu virus and are unable to attend class.
The levels of Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 (or swine flu to you and me) infection are expected to rise again as school children and students return to schools, colleges and universities, and Microsoft seem to be trying to use the pandemic to increase usage of their free online storage service for Office documents. Information about the benefits of using the service to share assignments, handouts and presentations is listed on the new microsoft.com/education/h1n1 mini-site. Other resources available include tips and how-to videos, according to a Microsoft press release.
In a blog posting, Anthony Salcito - the vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft - said, "The H1N1 pandemic highlights the need for institutions to think more holistically about blended learning environments...that these online and distance learning solutions are valuable not only when you have to respond to classroom outages or school closures, but also creates an opportunity to connect and share information between a student and teacher beyond the classroom all the time."
The Office Live Workspace service itself provides 5GB of space for uploading files such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, and then gives the ability to share your workspace or individual documents with up to 100 people. Documents can be viewed through just a traditional web browser, meaning you don't need Microsoft Office installed to have a look at the files.
Basic editing and collaboration tools are available through simple online applications which will eventually be replaced by the new Office Web Apps. We also expect the new Windows Live Documents service to replace Office Live Workspace when it launches next year as part of Windows Live Wave 4.