Ribbon Hero will speed Office 2010 adoption on campuses

Ribbon Hero will speed Office 2010 adoption on campuses

Summary: As I reported this morning over on Between the Lines, Microsoft Office Labs has introduced a prototype training tool called Ribbon Hero. You can read the BTL post for the details, but the long and the short of it is that users will be able to compete with each other via Facebook to learn new features of Office.

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As I reported this morning over on Between the Lines, Microsoft Office Labs has introduced a prototype training tool called Ribbon Hero. You can read the BTL post for the details, but the long and the short of it is that users will be able to compete with each other via Facebook to learn new features of Office. While the tool is available to any users and has plenty of implications for corporate training, my first thought was how it would directly appeal to college students.

Most campuses have some sort of licensing agreement with Microsoft that makes it very cheap for students to obtain the latest version of Office. While that's all well and good, the software often represents a lot of bloat, overhead, and a real learning curve for students who want to use it well and efficiently. OpenOffice and the increasing presence of Google Apps on campuses present really viable alternatives rendering Office somewhat irrelevant.

But wait! What if Ribbon Hero could teach students to fully exploit the features of Office (especially the upcoming 2010 incarnation)? How many college students do you know who spend a fair amount of time tending their crops in Farmville or amassing weapons and cash in Mafia Wars? Believe it or not, Ribbon Hero stands a chance of turning that sort of motivation loose on learning productivity-boosting features in Office. Many of these features are rarely used by students who simply need to crank out papers and presentations.

However, many features, particularly in Office 2010, have the potential to add more than flashy artwork to a slide show. They are designed to help people work faster and produce really rich documents. What better way to get students to learn and use these features than by rewarding them with what essentially amounts to a Facebook app?

Don't get me wrong. I'm just as avid a supporter of Google Apps and open source software as I ever was. For many users, Apps delivers exactly the functionality they need. However, for campuses with Microsoft license agreements that put Office in the hands of lots of students, Ribbon Hero will make it much easier to realize the value of desktop software for those who need it (and even for some who didn't realize they needed it).

Topics: Microsoft, Apps, Collaboration, Google, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Ribbon Hero will speed Office 2010 adoption on campuses

    Your logic fails.

    [i]While that?s all well and good, the software often represents a lot of bloat, overhead, and a real learning curve for students who want to use it well and efficiently. OpenOffice and the increasing presence of Google Apps on campuses present really viable alternatives rendering Office somewhat irrelevant.[/i]

    You say Microsoft Office has a lot of bloat, overhead, and a learning curve then go on to recommend OpenOffice which is is 20 more bloated? I can't understand your reasoning on this one. Have you ever used OpenOffice? It is horribly bloated and slow, and doesn't have the features found in a full office suite like Microsoft Office.

    [i]For many users, Apps delivers exactly the functionality they need.[/i]

    While Google Apps is not bloated it is more or less unusable to the average student. It only has the most basic of features like a document editor that has bold, italics, and underline. That will just not cut it.

    Now for the part you fail to realize in your logic. OpenOffice and Google Apps will not do the students any good. In fact, I see it only harming them in the long run. When these students graduate and they read the job description that says "Must possess proficiency in Microsoft Office including Word and Excel" they won't have a chance because they never used it. The employer sure isn't going to hire them because they don't have the required skill set. Bottom line is that if you want to make it as a student then its in your best interest to learn Microsoft Office. That is where Ribbon Hero steps in.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Open Office Bloated?

    Didn't notice that. My wallet is bloated through not having to purchase it
    Mahegan
  • Wow, make it easy and fast to learn tired old technology.

    Can't wait!!!
    DonnieBoy
  • Thoughts . . .

    "OpenOffice and the increasing presence of Google Apps on campuses present really viable alternatives rendering Office somewhat irrelevant."

    I don't know about that.

    -Google Apps is nice for whipping something up at the last minute, but it's really missing the advanced features for long term projects and larger documents. I'd write a quick memo with it, but I wouldn't write a textbook with it.

    -OpenOffice.org had a major, major setback when Microsoft released Office 2007. The ribbon appeared, and the Linux community promptly became divided over whether the ribbon is good or evil. Now the authors of OpenOffice have to contend with a UI battle where no matter what they do, they're gonna make people angry.

    -Microsoft Office has not been standing still. They've invested a lot of time and effort into continuing to advance it forward, and Office 2010 really does look like it is doing a lot to improve the process of creating documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and everything else Office supports.
    CobraA1
  • Guess that Ribbon is really working out

    If the Ribbon is so great, so intuitive, so "easy" to use (Blah ha ha ha ) then what's the point? Why would M$ need a game app to motivate people to "explore" such a self-explanatory interface?

    Well, for the shills out there, it's because the Ribbon sucks, and is neither useful, productive, or intuitive (IMHO).
    Takalok
    • C'mon, lighten up.

      Geez, so cynical.

      It's a "labs" feature, and it's not a part of Office. Generally speaking, "labs" stuff is where people play around with new ideas.

      I think this is more the labs people having fun, rather than some big move by Microsoft.
      CobraA1
  • RE: Ribbon Hero will speed Office 2010 adoption on campuses

    Huh? Explain that to me. MS introduces this new and improved approach that's more user-friendly and 'intuitive' than the decades old menu bar, yet their having to train people how to use it. Let's think about this for a bit...
    dch1969
    • Yes, let's think about it . . .

      Yes, let's think about it:

      -For most people, Office was introduced slowly to them. Early versions of Office were pretty simple, and it got more complex as time goes on. So they're learning it over a period of many years with only gradual, slow changes.

      -It's been my experience that yes, absolute newcomers to Office tend to be overwhelmed. And yes, this includes Office 2003.

      Office simply has a lot of features. A lot.

      And let's not forget that it has to cater to a lot of people, including people with little to no technical knowledge.

      My mother needs training just to use her TV. Office is a lot more complicated than a TV remote.

      Office 2007 is IMO easier to learn, so the training period for Office 2007 should be shorter than for 2003, assuming the person has never used any word processor before.

      But - even with a far more intuitive interface, it's still more complex than a TV remote, so it's silly to insist that it's not going to require training.

      Any software that becomes more complex is going to reach a point where it's going to require training for some people, no matter how intuitive you try to make the interface.

      It simply can't be avoided. How many times have you seen people frustrated over a remote control, with only a small number of features? You really think these people are going to be able to use a fully featured word processor without any issues?
      CobraA1