This blog was not created using Microsfoft Office. Nothing especially unusual about that - last month's post was created using the freely downloadable Open Office. The difference this month is that I am not using a Word Processor that is stored on my PC; instead I have opted to create a document online using Google Documents.
The idea of going online to access a range of standard office tools is gaining popularity at the moment. Down in the dungeon we believe that there is real potential for schools to encourage use of such tools in order to support access to a central store of files that may be needed at home or school. From our point of view, this removes the risk of allowing users into our network from the Internet; from the users it offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of access to their documents. It also offers the option of using a common platform in and out of school for pupils who do not have access to MS Office at home.
As with all potentially great things, there are downsides; access to the tools depends on a decent connection to the Internet and there are questions about how confidential or secure these services are.
Concern was caused recently when Google's services went down for a few hours. This highlighted the danger of relying on such a service as your main means of productivity, but as part of a mixed economy approach we in the dungeon are fairly convinced it has a future and we believe that it is already a great tool for education users.