Saturday, October 10, 2009

Online Document Management

I have been starting to plan a strategy for online document management for my staff and students. We are implementing a new Wifi network in my district. I plan on creating a guest SSID just as i did in my previous district. I wrote about that in a previous post.

My plan is to allow faculty and students to be able to bring in their own mobile devices. In order for this to be successful I want them to have access to their documents while on and off the network. Setting up the guest SSId for internet only is the easy part. I need to find a solution for accessing documents over the web. This will ensure they will not have to be added to our domain to get to their files.

There are of course a number of options these days. Google Apps for Education, Zoho and other open source document management platforms are available. In the case of Google Apps it is a major change.  My biggest obstacle is that Google Apps uses email as its primary communication and collaboration tool. There are many concerns with providing email accounts to our students. While the details of this are another post it is a noteworthy concern.

Microsoft has recently introduced Office Web Apps. You can access the beta called Microsoft Office Live currently. It provides the ability to access word, powerpoint and excel documents online. You can even share and collaborate on them. I have heard that office 2010 will offer the ability to host this online cloud on your own servers. I am hoping that if hosted authentication can be handled with LDAP.  This might be a solution for us. It is of course a very expensive solution in comparison to Google Apps. The good news is we are already paying for it with our MS volume license.

Here is a quick blurb about MS Office Live.

Office Web Apps, the online companion to Word, Excel®, PowerPoint® and OneNote® applications, allow you to access documents from anywhere. You can even simultaneously share and work on documents with others online. View documents across PCs, mobile phones, and the Web without compromising document fidelity. Create new documents and do basic editing using the familiar Office interface. By offering more ways to access files from almost anywhere, Office Web Apps enable you to get things done according to your schedule.

I will continue to look into an open source solution that we can load onto our servers. If anyone has a recommendation I would love to hear it!

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