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Need To Learn Technology? The ITaP Student Trainers Can Help!

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By in Professional Development, Student Technology Kit, Training on .

Purdue University offers a lot of great software tools for faculty and students that can be used for course projects. The problem that may arise for faculty wanting students to create movies, graphics, or other deliverables for course projects may simply be that students are not familiar with tools needed to create those items.

This is where the ITaP Student Trainers can help!

The ITaP Student Training program offers free training on various software tools to students and faculty. During the time of a 50-minute course meeting, a Student Trainer can provide students with the basic knowledge of a software tool so those students can complete their assignment. For a 75-minute course, Student Trainers can provide not only a training session but also, on request of the course instructor, additional question and answer time for individual students in the course.

Each training session is a hands-on session, so training sessions held during class time may need to be held in a computer lab instead of the normal classroom. All students in the session will receive a handout, and any student missing class or needing additional instruction may schedule an individual help session with one of the Student Training staff.

Student Trainers currently provide training sessions on the following software tools:

Microsoft Office
(Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
InDesign Illustrator
Acrobat iMovie
GarageBand Windows Live Movie Maker
Audacity Gradient
Dreamweaver Adobe Connect


Additionally, other training sessions may be available on request. If you need a training session on a product not listed above, please contact the Student Trainers and request that session.

Student Trainers are also available to provide training sessions to recognized student organizations. Student organizations interested in providing professional development to its members as a whole, or who may need a few members trained in a technology to develop videos or materials to market their group may utilize the Student Trainers for this purpose. Additionally, Resident Assistants who would like to provide a program for their communities to develop new technical skills may also request a program from the Student Training staff.

Student Trainer sessions may be customized to meet the needs of attendees. For an audience that may know how to use Microsoft Word but may need some training on more advanced topics in Word, a training session can be developed to meet that need.

The ITaP Student Trainers are available throughout the fall and spring semesters, with limited availability in the summer. If you are interested in setting up a training session please fill out our training request form. For more information please email itaptrainers@purdue.edu and one of our training coordinators will answer any questions you may have.

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist

The Great Office in the Clouds – Introducing Microsoft Office 365

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By in Distance Education, IT Administration, Mobile, Software on .

I just viewed a webinar hosted by Computer Generated Solutions (CGI) concerning Microsoft Office 365.  This is Microsoft’s cloud computing suite that contains Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Microsoft Exchange Online (cloud-based email, calendar, and contacts), Microsoft SharePoint Online (web-based collaboration) and Microsoft Lync Online (cloud-based instant messaging, presence, and online meetingOffice 365 Logo experiences with PC-audio, video conferencing, and screen sharing, also formerly known as Microsoft Office Communicator Online).  Office 365 is currently in closed-Beta, but is set to open to public Beta soon and should be released later this year.

Office 365 has some nice features.  It is not a web-only solution; it also has deep integration with desktop versions of Microsoft products.  One thing I like is that the web versions look very much like the desktop client versions of the products, thus eliminating the need to learn a new interface.  A really nice feature of the web versions is that they are right-clickable – you can right-click on items and access the same context menus that you can in the desktop versions. 

Mobile devices are supported.  Any device with ActiveSync can use mobile apps of Office 365 products – this includes the iPhone and iPad, most Nokia devices and, importantly, Android devices (version 2.1 or better).  Mobile apps are provided at no extra charge.  BlackBerry support doesn’t currently exist but should be available later this year.  Office 365 also has full functionality on the Chrome, FireFox and Safari browsers, not just Internet Explorer.  They are really working hard to make it brower-agnostic. 

Some other nice features include highly-customized templates for SharePoint sites that look like a regular web site rather than a SharePoint site, and the ability for people external to your organization to access your SharePoint sites (they are sent an auto-generated email with access info and links).  Also, you can easily send online meeting requests with links to the web conference from within Outlook.  The Lync instant messaging and video conferencing tools will eventually work with other communication products like Yahoo! (I’m not sure about Skype), though only Office 365 will be supported initially.  Office 365 works with Active Directory, so students, faculty and staff could log on with the same login credentials they use at school.

Another really nice feature is what Microsoft calls a “Rich Coexistence Environment.”  This is the ability to have a hybrid environment where some of the Office 365 capability is hosted on local servers and some of it exists in the cloud.  This means that schools or business organizations can move people back and forth seamlessly between cloud and on-premise files and instances of applications.  Purdue, like many universities, likes to keep certain things local for FERPA and security reasons.  The Rich Coexistence Environment would allow schools to have granular control over which content resides locally and which lives in the cloud.

Office 365 is the successor to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).  People who have tried Office 365 often like it better than Google Docs.  I know I found Google Docs frustrating because I do most of my work with Office products which don’t mesh well with Google’s offering.  Plus, I really like the option of using a desktop client app when I want to.  I keep a working copy of my blog posts on Windows Live SkyDrive so I can work on them at work or at home, but I usually like to open it up in Word rather than use the web interface.  I find the web version of Word to be slow when dealing with large documents and I just have more power and functionality with the Word desktop client.  This, plus the fact that most students do much of their work with MS Office and that is probably what they are going to be using after graduation, makes Office 365 something for schools to consider.

For more information, see the following:

10 reasons why Microsoft Office 365 rocks

Office 365 Fact Sheets

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SGp9pA9cAY &feature=player_embedded]

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uoQYAneuaA &feature=player_embedded]

Morning Musings: MS Office 2011 coming soon to a Mac near you!

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By in Morning Musings on .

Microsoft has released marketing materials for their new newest version of Office 2011 highlighting all new features, including the ribbon interface.  The newest version of Office will be a step above previous Mac attempts, most notably due to their scrapping of the Entourage email application in favor of real Outlook.  For many Mac users this is a much-needed upgraded that couldn’t come soon enough.  For more info, and to keep on eye on their new web series check out OfficeforMac.com

•    Starting off with the new Template Gallery in Office 2011, this feature allows you to quickly and easily pick a template from the built-in designs to the thousands of templates online – giving you a head start to create great looking, professional documents.

•    Core features in Outlook for Mac like the Conversation View help you sort emails easily to keep track of what you need to do. Additionally, the new file-based database is faster and provides more stability with Time Machine support.

•    Tying all of the new features together is the Office for Mac ribbon, designed as an evolution of the Office 2008 Elements Gallery while also utilizing the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar giving you the best of both worlds. We have put the most commonly used controls at your fingertips making it easier for you to find what you need. You can even minimize the ribbon and the Toolbar for more screen space or for the more advanced users who rely on keyboard shortcuts.


Microsoft Office Online

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By in Tools on .

Over the past week, Microsoft has slowly rolled out Beta access to the new Office Online suite to a select number of Windows Live SkyDrive users.  This new web application suite can be seen as a direct competitor to Google Docs & the Zoho Office Suite, and an evolution of their Office Live workspace.  As mentioned in a previous post, Microsoft has been losing traction in the online application wars to Google and their productivity applications.  Previously, Office Live allowed for storage and sharing of Microsoft Office formatted documents between other users, but lacked any real time collaboration support compared to Google & Zoho.

With the slow unveiling of their new cloud based suite, Microsoft appears to be taking a more pro-active step in gaining market share in the online productivity market.  From TechCrunch, the list of features in the new Office Web App appear to be fairly impressive with easier to use interface, and synchronization between the web and desktop versions of Office.  However, it appears that real-time collaboration is only available for Excel, and will not be unveiled for the rest of the suite until official launch next year.

For a more comprehensive review and tear down of the new service from a beta users, feel free to visit TechCrunch.

Quick List of Features

  • Applications – Word/OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • PowerPoints can be saved simultaneously between the web and desktop versions
  • PowerPoint formatting is the same on Web and Desktop
  • Excel offers real-time collaboration between users
  • Excel Charts are not available online at this time, and only through the desktop version
  • Sharing & Commenting on Word Documents between multiple users
  • No Real-time collaboration on Word
  • Announced earlier in the year, Microsoft has stated that the online suite will be free to users with a Live account


For those looking to get into the Beta testing of Office Online, Lifehacker has found an easy solution without resorting to begging or pleading your social networks for invite codes.  By signing up for the SkyDrive Live service (remember its free), and uploading a Word Document, Microsoft will then ask if you would like to be a preview user of their Web Office Apps.