Gallery: SharePoint, Lync, mobile in Office 365 for Education

Gallery: An exclusive look at some of the functionality in Office 365 for Education, including SharePoint, Lync communications and mobile device functionality.

Announced last year, Office 365 will be the next-generation replacement of the cloud based Business Productivity Online Suite. Live@edu will also be thrown into the enterprise cloud equation under the new heading of Office 365 for Education.

But little is known about Office 365 for Education, except some snippets from the initial announcement and the tiered pricing details last week. What will it look like, and how will students interact with it?

Office 365 will harness existing technologies to suit for the educational setting. SharePoint and Lync, formerly Office Communicator, will allow collaboration, sharing and instant messaging. But these will come as a cost for institutions who decide to sign up for the additional, non-email features, which remains free.

Click for larger image: Office 365 for Education includes Lync, which is instant messaging on steroids. It allows students to interact in real time using either a web-based or client-based application, see each others presence, share documents and work as if they are in the room together. It links into SharePoint and Outlook Live email so presence is shared across the board.

Click for larger image: SharePoint acts as a virtual learning environment and connects with existing Office 365 for Education platforms and applications. Moodle is an option for those running open-source systems. Yet SharePoint is already used for staff only in many institutions and allows greater consistency across the board.

Click for larger image: This shows SharePoint Workspace Mobile specifically for Windows Phone 7, showing continuity across the board of Microsoft products. Many other devices, including iOS devices, Nokia smartphones, certain Android devices and BlackBerry handsets will be able to work with Office 365 on the go.

However, Office 365 for Education, like Live@edu, be available across the board without the need for VPN or technologies where many mobile devices do not support.

Office 365 for Education is expected to be released in the first half of this year. More will be published as and when details emerge.