Top 10 reasons Office 2010 is good for schools

I’ve been using Office 2010 for a few months now, and over time I’ve realised that there is a lot of clever stuff hidden inside this new version.

When I say “hidden”, I mean that in a positive way. One of the big things with Office 2010 is that there are a huge number of things which don’t change – things like the Ribbon menu and all of the new file formats which arrived with Office 2007. The benefit of this is that it is easier for users to migrate, but as a user, it has meant it’s taken me a little while to find the things which are very new.

One of the underlying things is that all of the applications work much more effectively in an Internet connected world – and use that to improve users’ ability to save and share information.


There’s more to life than the Save icon

imageIt’s going to involve some user re-education, but if you can persuade people to hit the “Share” button, instead of the “Save” button, things are going to get interesting for your learning community.

Your students and staff will easily be able to share their work in lots of different places and ways.

Reason One: Save to SharePoint allows them to use shared sites, or their MySite, to store and share documents. And because it is so easy (no more do I have to save a local copy and then go and upload it to SharePoint separately) it will encourage everybody to store their documents where other (authorised!) people can find them.

Reason Two: Save to SkyDrive is one step further by connecting your users to their 25GB of free storage on the SkyDrive site. And because SkyDrive allows you to have private folders, shared folders and public folders, each user can easily control what’s visible to others, and available via any Internet connected computer.

Reason Three: Create PDF Document is something I have used quite a bit since discovering it – I can now take my Word document and turn it into something which is perceived to be more ‘professionally published’ because it’s a PDF. And it’s dead easy to use.

imageReason Four: PowerPoint knocks down the classroom walls by adding a new “Broadcast Slide Show” option, which takes your presentation and presents it live on a web page – with all the fancy animations and everything else. So now, if you’re delivering a remote lesson, everybody can be looking at the same thing, in high resolution and real time, without needing an extra fancy software. All you do is share a weblink, and you’re ready to teach the world! You can find out a little more on this on the PowerPoint blog

image Reason Five: Your teachers can become YouTube stars with the new sharing option in PowerPoint, that allows you to turn a presentation into a video. Up until now, if you wanted to share a PowerPoint presentation as a video, you either needed extra software (like Camtasia) or you had to save the files as individual pictures, and then put them together into a lovely movie with PhotoStory or MovieMaker. Now you just select ‘Share>Create a Video’ and you’re off. You can create low-res videos for YouTube or your Learning Platform, or High-Def videos for other uses. This means that your teachers can unlock some of their existing PowerPoint content for your students – making it available in places and ways they’re likely to be comfortable with – like YouTube.

If you want an idea of how powerful this can be, take a look at this video, created completely in PowerPoint 2010.

It was created by Duarte, who are professional presentation designers, and they’ve shared the template for this whole presentation (plus some lessons on how to achieve the effects) within the PowerPoint 2010 beta. It’s an amazing demonstration of how you can combine good graphics and some of the clever new animations and transitions in PowerPoint to produce an amazingly professional result.

Cut and Paste will never be the same again

imageReason Six: Paste has less hassle involved now that you can choose easily whether to paste in information with its original formatting, or no formatting (or merged formatting), simply by clicking the right mouse button. You get this little menu to the right, and it means you can say goodbye to little irritations caused by doing things like pasting in a bit of text from an Internet page – and seeing your whole page design change.

image Reason Seven: Paste has less hassle forever too, because you can change the default Paste behaviour. So you can always set Word to paste text in unformatted – losing all of the purple fonts so beloved of Year 7! I’m told this is a very good thing.

image Reason Eight: You can paste animations from one object to another. This is already saving me hours in PowerPoint, and just might encourage my ten-year-old to use consistent animations, not a new animation for every piece of text! Now, once I’ve perfected my dead-cat-bounce on my latest clipart triumph, I can copy it across all the other bits of the slides by using the Animation Painter. It works just like Format Painter (the little yellow paint brush in Office 2007), but potentially saves a lot more time in PowerPoint.


Reason Nine: PowerPoint’s new video features will genuinely make teachers smile, because it just makes working with video easier, so that teachers can include video in their lesson plans more easily. There are 3 parts of it worth noting:

  • imageYou can now trim the parts of the video to display – selecting when to start and stop the video automatically. It’s a doddle, just using the ‘Trim Video’ option, and dragging the markers to the start and end position. This is brilliant if you’ve got a long video in your library (eg a TV programme) that you want to only show 2 minutes from.
  • Videos are now embedded in your presentation by default, meaning that your one PowerPoint file has all the bits it needs to run, rather than having to remember to copy all the video files.
  • image And finally, you can now easily insert a video from websites like YouTube and TeacherTube just by clicking ‘Insert>Video>Video from Web Site’ and pasting in the embed code from the video.

And finally, for the minute, it’s free

image Reason Ten: Because the Office 2010 Beta is free and downloadable nowwhich means you can play with it as much as you want (and, if you’re shallow like me, use a few of whizzy new animation features in PowerPoint to show off in front of colleagues/students who haven’t yet seen them). Have fun!



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