Snow days, carpool conflicts, broken bones, learning disabilities, the flu, excessive heat, hurricanes, weapon threats, cyber-bullying, failed levies, family vacation…  Any of these factors, and many others, could mean unintended missed school days and a disruption in the learning continuum, at a minimum.  More importantly, it could mean stunted flow of federal dollars for attendance and instruction.

With the on-going threat of the pandemic-like H1N1 virus, schools are regularly grappling with attempting to keep some semblance of order and learning while minimizing learning downtime caused by recommendations to isolate potentially sick students. 

Meanwhile, Web 2.0 advances have allowed schools to explore the potential of anywhere, anytime learning tools to enhance the learning environment well beyond the physical bounds of the school property and beyond the time bounds of school sessions.  Communication, collaboration, alerts and content is becoming increasingly digital and ubiquitously accessible as 1-1 computing and home computer access spreads.

Microsoft is right there in the mix with solutions for schools.  Most customers probably traditionally associate us with on-premise, central-IT sponsored projects involving SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Office – clearly our legacy and area of expertise.  What many customers don’t realize is that we’re also in the business of Web 2.0-style immediacy – with free web tools directly relevant to educational needs.

Office Live Workspace fits the LEARNING CONTINUUM bill

Forget the branding, for a second and just think of this as a Classroom workspace – an accessible from any browser tool to store, share and collaborate on homework, handouts, presentations and projects.  No – they don’t have to be Office documents – they can be of ANY file time; and no – you don’t have to be a Live@edu customer.  Any teacher, student or administrator can setup and invite other peers, students or parents to participate and – POW – instant learning continuum tool!  Check out the details here: http://www.microsoft.com/education/classworkspace/default.aspx

Don’t overlook our myriad other tools

More free web tools abound – all with high relevance for your classrooms.

1. Need to record a lecture or lesson for students who miss it?  Check out Community Clips.

2. Need great multi-media software for assembling projects?  Check out the new Windows Live Movie Maker.

3. Want to share documents and screen views with peers or students?  Check out Shared View.

Who knew Microsoft is your quick and simple source for relevant classroom tools?  Enjoy!