Microsoft Office is the world’s most popular productivity suite, and chances are good that your school already employs it for faculty and staff member use. Of course, there’s a natural tendency to lag behind in adopting new versions of Office. Many schools choose not to upgrade because of the costs, while others don’t want to deal with the headaches of installing the new suite on the thousands of workstations in their school. Be that as it may, there are some very, very compelling reasons that you should not only upgrade your school’s version of office, but to move to Office 365 (as opposed to the standalone version). Why should your school consider making the switch? Below, you’ll find the top 10 reasons to get your school onboard.
1. It's Free for School
Upgrading to new versions of Microsoft Office once represented a significant financial investment on the part of a school. That’s no longer the case. Office 365 is free to faculty and staff, and even to students, through Microsoft’s new Student Advantage program (to qualify for free, you’ll need to use the A2 tier, as the other tiers do come at a financial cost). Gaining access to the world’s most trusted productivity suite at no cost is certainly a benefit to your school’s already limited budget.
7. OneDrive Integration for Easy Storage
How many times has a student complained of a lost thumb drive that contained their assignment or course work? It’s a common problem. Office 365 offers a solution, though. It integrates directly with OneDrive (previously SkyDrive), and students can easily save their files to the cloud, and then access them from anywhere, even right in the classroom. If there are locations on your computer or within your OneDrive folders that you use more frequently, you can actually “pin” those to the Save As menu, giving you a simple, hassle-free way to store your information.
6. Robust Protection Built In
It seems like every new day brings a new headline about security breaches and private data put in danger. Microsoft built in robust anti-malware and anti-spam protection to Office 365, protecting students’ information from unwanted prying eyes and the myriad of threats out there on today’s Internet. A safe, secure learning environment means that students are able to learn faster, and without any fear of their data being stolen or their system compromised.
5. Greater Consistency
Students using one version of Word in the classroom and another at home or in their dorm face an adjustment. This adjustment becomes greater the farther removed each of those Word versions are from one another. With Office 365, students have access to the same version of all Office programs everywhere, and will always have the latest version of Office.
4. Web Apps Accessible through Any Browser
You don’t have to download any apps to use Office 365 (although there are apps available for Windows, Android and iOS devices). All of Office’s programs are available via web apps, accessed by any modern browser, including Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. This has obvious implications for schools following a bring your own device policy, but there are wider implications for students in every school.
3. Access the Tools You Use, Anywhere
One of the most important advantages of Office 365 is the fact that students (and teachers) can access the tools they use from anywhere, at any time. All you need is a web-connected device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.), and you can use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and even Outlook. This facilitates better productivity, certainly, but it also supports both formal and informal learning methods.
2. Powerful Communication & Collaboration Tools
Another reason to move to Office 365 is to gain access to the suite’s communication and collaboration tools. These are important for teachers and faculty, but they also provide considerable value to students. Using these tools, teachers can conduct classes online, or can even provide tutoring. Peer-to-peer support is also possible.
8. Sharing Information Safely and Easily
How often does the information you hand out to your students actually make its way to their parents? When it does, what condition is that paper in? Chances are good that if it makes it at all, it’ll be in a crumpled, balled up mess. With Office 365, teachers can easily share calendar information, event information and important notes with students, with other teachers and with parents without a single piece of paper being used.
9. Built-in Intranet Site Creation Capabilities
Not all files need to be shared on the Internet. Sometimes, you need an intranet site. Whether you’re creating a site for students on a particular project, for your class as a whole or for parents, Office 365 makes it not only possible, but easy to create your own custom intranet sites to fit whatever purpose you might have.
10. No Manual Updates Needed
One of the problems schools encountered with older versions of Office was the time consuming practice of downloading and applying updates. Office 365 automates that process now, saving your school time and your IT staff headaches. Updates are automatically downloaded and applied, including new version updates to keep you on the leading edge with the suite. This also ensures that you always have access to the latest tools and features every time you open Office, which increases your own productivity (and that of your students, as well).