Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Microsoft or Google Web 2.0 Tools for Course Management

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Microsoft or Google Web 2.0 Tools for Course Management

Article excerpt


Collaboration is a major area of focus for corporate America. Cisco Systems has invested heavily in video collaboration systems within the last two years counting on Web 2.0 technologies to drive profits for the next five to ten years (Chambers, 2008). Popular collaboration software system Microsoft SharePoint reached a billion dollars in sales in 2008 (McDougall, 2008). It is the fastest selling software in the product history of the company. The tools of modern collaboration are the technologies of Web 2.0 in which communities of interest share content and commentary through multimedia files, wikis, and blogs. And increasingly, content is finding people rather than the other way around. The collaboration tools of Facebook captured an entire generation in less than five years. CEO Mark Zuckerberg (2009) recently stated that Facebook has 150 million active users--a population greater than that of Japan. The obvious popularity of collaboration software in social networks, and the availability of free software tools on the Internet motivate educational organizations at every level to help students electronically connect and collaborate in preparation for a world in which team work is not constrained by geography. Nevertheless, research work in this area is just sprouting and a variety of studies on how to employ Web 2.0 in support of collaborative learning have been untaken, though research findings are still quite limited (Lockyer and Patterson, 2008; Rollett, Lux, Strohmaier, Dosinger, Tochtermann, 2007; Selwyn 2007).

Prior to 2005, individuals or organizations needed significant resources to electronically support collaborative team work. The introduction of browser based productivity software by Google in 2005 triggered a wave of free online word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, wiki, and discussion forum software. At Western Michigan University, we are using collaboration software for course management as well as the enrichment of course content for a college-wide computing core course. This teaching tip focuses on ways in which online collaboration applications could be used to support the management and delivery of large-sized classes. A detailed comparison of two most popular online collaboration tools from Google and Microsoft is given in the next section, followed by examples of ways in which Google applications are used in support of course management.



We have used online collaboration office tools in our courses only from the two most popular providers--Microsoft and Google. Free online office suites are also offered by ThinkFree (ThinkFree, 2009) and Zoho (Zoho, 2009) but neither enjoys the branding of the two market leaders. To date, no online (i.e., Web-based) office software is as powerful or versatile as Microsoft Office, but the capabilities of online productivity software continue to improve. Since neither ThinkFree nor Zoho applications have been used in our courses, online software comparisons will be limited to the collaboration software systems offered by Microsoft and Google.

2.1 Microsoft Office Live (

Office Live is a convenient way to store and share files. Users get the full power of Microsoft Office because the site is designed for MS Office files. Users can create workspaces which can be shared with up to 100 email addresses (Srivastava, 2009). The default workspace created with the creation of a free Office Live ID is called Documents, and it allows users to share individual documents with designated email addresses. All subsequent workspaces that are created only allow workspace sharing, i.e. all documents stored in those workspaces are available to shared viewers or editors (Raina, 2009). The Office Live system can track document versions. The maximum storage space for free Office Live user accounts is 5 GB (Srivastava, 2009). …

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