Lisa Stelzner, one of our sales reps, is the guest blogger for this week.
A friend of mine recently asked if I had ever heard of Khan Academy. I had not and she described a little bit about the company to me.
Khan Academy is a free online learning library of over 2,100 videos about math, science, history, humanities, and just about any other educational topic. It started out with one person, Sal Khan, making videos to help his cousins learn algebra, and has blossomed into an incredible resource for anyone who wants to learn. As their mission says, it is “A free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
Khan Academy makes this mission statement possible because it is online, self-paced learning that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. It also appeals to people because they make education fun. And who doesn’t like fun? Kahn Academy students also receive badges after completing courses. The more “badges” a student receives the more bragging rights they are entitled too!
I thought it was interesting that even though it is free world-class online education, Khan Academy is meant to aid and assist classroom learning. Teachers can assign Khan Academy lessons ahead of time, review a report of which students took the lessons, and provide help where it’s needed. Because of the use of the Khan Academy’s resources, classrooms are able to have more teacher-student interaction learning how to do the skills they are unsure of and not focusing on the ones they know.
Of course, I was interested because their business model is similar to CustomGuide’s. We both have online content, which can be accessed anywhere, and is self-directed, so students can learn more about topics in which they’re interested. Both of our end goals is to utilize technology to help maximize education for the best results. And yes, we both want to make learning fun. It’s exciting to see such incredible success in online learning!
If you are not familiar with this organization it is worth a brief review. It definitely got my juices flowing and I’m hoping it will for you as well!
If you recently received an e-mail from Microsoft advertising free a trial for Office 365 and panicked because you’re not ready for another version of Office, relax. Office 365 is a new product from Microsoft that makes some of Microsoft’s collaborative features more accessible, especially for small businesses and professionals; Office 2010 is still viable, at least for a while.
Targeting small business is a new direction for Microsoft. Before Office 365, their collaborative tools required servers: Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Lync Server, etc. Small businesses simply do not have the financial or personnel resources necessary to purchase and keep up so many servers, so other than Exchange, many have gone without Microsoft’s collaborative features.
Office 365 makes the bonus collaborate features like SharePoint and Lync feasible by eliminating all those servers and rolling everything into one hosted account for your organization. E-mail (Exchange), document sharing (SharePoint), and instant messaging (Lync) have been mashed into one hosted service. There are no servers farms to build or connect; administrators just create an Office 365 account for the organization, add users, and they’re set. It’s also easy to add your organization’s domain to your account. With the ease of administration and access, providing these three productivity tools is a real possibility for small organizations.
Office 365 is also very adaptable to working styles. If you want to work completely in the cloud, you can. The portal is easy to use from your browser, and you can use the online apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for working with your documents with are saved in SharePoint. You can also use instant messaging through contacts in Mail. If you prefer working from your desktop, you can do that too. You can set up your e-mail account through an Outlook 2010 client; you can save files to your Office 365 SharePoint site through desktop versions of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint; and you can install Lync, the instant messaging and calls application, to your desktop. It’s a system that works well for workers on the go, and workers at their desks.
It’s still in the trial phase, but if you sign up now you’ll get to test it until October; after that you’ll have to pay. But if you’re a small organization that’s wanted a feasible way to use more of Microsoft’s collaborative features, Office 365 is worth a look.
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