Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For Instructors Who Want Their Students To Have Office Documents

I've been futzing with Windows Live tools for the last couple of days and I believe I've discovered a particular use for instruction that will be liked by students and faculty alike. It is on the theme of taking the file sharing function out of the LMS and putting it into Web 2.0. This is particularly for those who want students to have the actual office documents, not PDF versions. If you want to share PDFs, a different alternative is needed.

This can be done with Firefox or IE, but not Chrome.

1. The requirement is to have a Windows Live account. If you don't have one and want to try out this suggestion go here and make an account.

2. Once that's done, go to the More menu and choose Office Live.

3. Sign in. It will take a little bit to configure your space.

4. Once that's done, on the left where it says My Workspaces, make a new blank workspace. Name it whatever you'd like, for example, Class Files. Put in a description if you'd like.

5. Then click Share. Send an email to yourself as a viewer. Also select the check box: Let everyone view this without signing in.

6. If you want to try uploading files now, you can. Click the Add Documents button in the main frame. Choose Excel, PowerPoint, or Word documents. By holding down the shift key you can add upload several consecutive documents at once.

That's all that is needed as the instructor for posting the files. My suggestion would then be to take the Web page where the files are and link to it from within the LMS that you use. To do this:

a) Go to the email that you sent yourself. (It might take a few minutes for you to receive that.)

b) Right click on the link to the space. Copy the link.

c) Go into your LMS site and make a Web link with the hyperlink you've just copied.

Now test this out from the student perspective. You want to make sure that students see the files online and can download them if they'd like.

i) If you've used FireFox to make the space, use IE to follow the link, and vice versa.

ii) Click on any particular document name. Verify you can view the document in the browser and save it to your desktop.

iii) A particular tip for viewing PowerPoint files in the browser. You likely will have to reduce the font size. Otherwise the presentation will go off the screen.

That's all there is to it. This is exactly like having a file folder for all the files you plan to share with students. Apart from the PowerPoint appearing too large, this is very intuitive. And although the Web page for these files is public, the url is very obscure so people aren't likely to stumble onto it.

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