I've just noticed this software and can't believe I've not come across it until now:
At a high level, it's a visual simulation platform that brings immersive games based technology to learning and training. It's multi user, Internet and VoIP ready too with fast accurate real-time information feeds. Have a run through of the video, you might want to mute your speakers first.
We’ve just announced that Office 2007 will get native support for ODF with the release of Office 2007 Service Pack 2, early next year.
You can already save files from Office 2007 in 20 different formats – of which, my favourite three are:
There’s already a convertor to convert files between Open XML and ODF – we’ve worked with the SourceForge.net community to make this available. And a free plug-in for Office 2007 which adds the “Save as PDF” option to the menu.
What’s been announced today is that the Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will have native support for Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1, PDF & XML Paper Specifications (XPS), when it is released in the first half of 2009.
This is all part of working more closely with the interoperability groups who are working on interoperability between document file formats – like the DAISY format for accessible publishing (DAISY blog post)– and with organisations like the Interop Vendor Alliance (website).
I guess you’re asking yourself what this means? Well, if you'’re keen to use ODF, you’ll get a menu item next year that will add “Save as ODF” (and until then they can use the other ways above). But as most common Office applications – eg Open Office & Google Apps - already support .doc format, it’s probably not need it in many circumstances. Perhaps when sharing files with international colleagues?
There’s more detail of this announcement on our PressPass site
I'm currently talking to a few universities about Silverlight in the context of how better visualisation can drive more people to the portal. I've noticed this Silverlight application on the BBC web site, which they call "the big zoomy photo thing" but don't be put off by the name because it's really is worth a good explore. Anyway, it's a great introduction to how Silverlight can be used to give a great experience for displaying content.
Just click the big yellow button and zoom away.
Another example, and this includes some really neat interface work, is the Hard Rock Cafe memorabilia site.
You'll need to install Silverlight to see these sites but don't worry, it was a simple and pain free process for me.
So, how could a university take advantage of this? What about an on-line prospectus, campus tours, event publicity &c &c &c... I'm sure the creative folk could get togther with some developers and deliver some great content that would give a "wow" to students.
If your university has already done some clever stuff with Silverlight, please share it with us here.
One of my colleagues, Mike Tholfsen, has just started a new blog aimed purely at supporting the use of OneNote in education. There's not much content yet but according to many of the comments he's the main man for OneNote so I'm expecting something good to come soon:
Happy note taking.
Yesterday, I visited a leading research university in the North of England (there will soon be a case study and then I can name them) to learn more about their requirements for a research extranet. Before I go much further, they have already got this in place and to remove any hint of suspense you should know that it is currently based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
I wanted to know why the leader of the research team, which comprises 10 RAs and 3 PHDs plus my contact who is leading the team, why they selected SharePoint. His response was extremely precise and business like; he needed a tool which would:
The university researched the market and with the knowledge that it had a finite/small budget and concerns over current skill levels they found that the natural solution was SharePoint. 18 months on, the solution has around 40+ projects running under it with all of them sticking to the requirements laid out above. Now is the time to upgrade the solution to MOSS 2007 to bring further levels of functionality and integration to back-end finance systems, enhanced navigation and usability, better search capability and discussion forums. The out-of-the-box functionality that MOSS 2007 will give them means they will be presenting to their clients a highly professional integrated portal and will be exploring shared calendars and contact management to further increase collaboration.
By exploiting MOSS for all of the above, they are able to deliver massive value to the university and its clients with minimal costs and impact on IT resources.
Very impressive (well, I think so)
A while ago I wrote about the announcement of the work that Microsoft were doing to develop a DAISY XML translator. The DAISY Consortium was set up to help those with visual impairment (or ‘print disabilities’) to access digital content easily, and enhance their use of the materials. We’ve been working with DAISY to develop a Word plug-in which allows Open XML documents to be translated into DAISY XML, which has become a globally accepted standard for digital talking books – for example, it’s used by the RNIB’s Talking Book Service.
DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System, which lets you work with digital content in many ways, synchronising audio with display output, generating braille versions, or allowing text to speech conversion.
The free Word Add-In has now been released, and adds a “Save as DAISY XML” option to the Word menu. The convertor is released as an open source project, and can be downloaded from the Open XML Community site. The beauty of this software is that it makes a specialist facility available within the core of Office – offering a broader reach for solutions that help visually impaired learners. It makes it easier for all staff in your university to be able to prepare materials in a way that could be used by all learners.
The Save as Daisy XML function works with Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP.