One of the new programmes included with the Office 2007 System is Groove. It allows you to setup a collaboration environment which is off line, and synchronised across different computers. You can do things like create a shared file folder, which can be used by anybody who has been allowed, whether or not they are on the same network. Which means that you can share files between home and school computers, or with pupils who want to continue working on their home computer.
All of this is designed to be very secure (MOD-type-secure), and none of the data is stored on a server somewhere (unless you want to set it up that way).
I can imagine two reactions to this - "nightmare" or "great". Let's put "nightmare" to one side, because there's no reason to think that students will do anything sillier with this than they would with USB Memory Sticks, CDs and emailed files. So what about the "great"?
In Australia, a pilot in schools has been going on a for a while, using Groove to collaborate between teachers and students at school and from home. The reaction has been very positive, with pupils and parents liking the discussion groups it provides - because the only people able to participate are those invited into the Groove workspace - in this case limiting it to school users. The other big thing that they've liked it for is the easy ability for staff in different schools to collaborate on projects. Traditionally this has been tricky, because each school network has its own security setup, and so collaboration has had to be in a public space somewhere (with all the hassle that entails).
Like most of the new Office 2007 applications, you can download a free copy of the Groove trial from the Office website