Hosted e-mail solutions and collaboration hubs come in all flavors. For institutions, however, the selection of e-mail and collaboration tools is a more complex undertaking due to what institutions need to consider (cost, security, reliability, support, etc). At Google, the education edition of Google Apps offered sought after solutions for Institutions looking to save on IT costs and free up resources. The integrated set of communication and collaboration tools from Google provides students with unique options that are easily manageable and familiar. Numerous case studies on Google Apps in Education have been published with astounding results.
Nevertheless, there are some institutions looking at another hosted email and collaboration hub, this one provided by Microsoft. Microsoft Live@edu offers a complete solution similar to Google Apps including mobile options, but strategically positioned to give students a complete online information technology management service, and at the same time introduce them early on to every day tools used in the workplace. For example, MS Live@edu offers online MS Outlook and calendaring system, as well as SkyDrive (25 GB online storage) for the widely known MS office suite: MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
It is important to note that Institutions offering the MS Live@edu option for students do not have to purchase Office licenses. The software is available for students free of charge and can be saved/shared/edited in the cloud via their Office Live Workspace. This is a tremendous advantage because other online document collaboration tools (Google docs, Zoho docs, Adobe’s Acrobat.com, etc) merely mimic the advanced formatting capabilities of MS Office suite products, but do not come close to the “real thing” . Consider importing a complex Excel worksheet into a Google Spreadsheets, it is certainly not the same.
Microsoft has published several success stories online. One that caught my attention was how Ball State University uses this solution to keep in touch with alumni and saves from $250,000 to $700,000 per year in email system upkeep for about 160,000 alumni.
For more information about MS Live@edu and Google Apps follow the links below:
- MS Live@edu Success Stories
- Microsoft Solution Center for Education
- Microsoft Live@edu versus Google Apps for Education
- Microsoft Live Workspace in the K-12 Classroom – student and teacher interviews: