Microsoft Teams for OS X Send Your Audio and Sound to your Audience with Soundflower

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

This video explains how to set up your Apple hardware to stream audio from Youtube and other sources to your Teams Meeting.

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Live In the Now with OneDrive for Business


By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

A year ago, many people using Office 365 for Education were really angry at OneDrive for Business. When Microsoft made the official switch from the public OneDrive to the Business Version, things were not good.

People forget the development most products follow. They forget the limits of the original Google Apps for Education. They forget the features that Facebook 1.0 did not have. Because people easily forgot, they are prone to become neophobes. Neophobia is the extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new or unfamiliar. Irrational being the keyword.

New technology is rarely given a fair chance. This is why many products stay in beta or in small user circles for years. OneDrive for Business did have a rough start, but even in the early stages it was a decent cloud storage client. In Asia, one of the main issues was speed. This has been remedied.

I felt compelled to write this post, because I feel like I have a track record for doing unbiased comparisons on cloud services. Office 365 is gaining ground in some very big areas. The video below, very unprofessional and horribly narrated, clearly illustrates the speed of OneDrive for Business. Please note, I have been using Groups in Office 365 as a video sharing platform, and they are working great. The use OneDrive storage as well. The speed for adding video is excellent, and the MP4s seem to playback quickly in Chrome and IE 11.

Technology changes. Basing decisions off of a single bad experience more than 180 days in the past is a mistake. If something looks promising, keep it on your radar.



Understanding The Cloud

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By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Cloud computing is one of the most difficult concepts to explain to people who spend most of their time working with children, running a school, and monitoring educational processes. Cloud computing is difficult to explain because it is imbued with industry jargon and misleading sales language, and when most people think about it, the concept is odd. After all, if cloud computing is fairly new, and the Internet is not new, then what were people doing before? How were they working? Why did anyone need, or want, to switch from one way of working to another?

Read More Here @ The International Educator.

Office 365 Took Me Back to the Future

I am definitely a big supporter of Google Apps for Education. There are no ifs,ans, or buts about it. However, when I took a new job in China I promised myself, as well as the school, I would focus on solutions that were 100% legal and, when possible, payable with local currency.

Aside from supporting Google Apps, I am more of a supporter of cloud computing and collaborative networks. This was the spirit which powered the original concept of the internet, and although it died for awhile, it has now come back. Working with servers that can be virtually deployed and expanded in minutes if amazing. Each one the same, with all standards and security set and ready to go.

So here I am, in the land of the Anti-Google. My search, as you know from previous posts, was exhaustive for collaborative groupware. I thought that we were going to have to license and host our own system, but I was wrong. A chance meeting with Microsoft on the eve of making a purchase changed the direction we were going. They let us know the free tier for Office 365 for Education was available in China.

I was excited, because it was a product I knew enough about to know it would meet our needs and allow us to use a variety of interconnected web applications. So, the process began. The first step was to find a school, similar to ours, using Office 365 for Education here in China. Microsoft had told us the data center was actually in China. We needed to test the speed, features, and look for limitations.Luckily we found a school, and the assessment began.

Using Office 365 this last week reminded me of the first time I really started liking Google Apps. This is a positive point, because my actual initial Office 365 experience was awful. The first thing that occurred to me was that the Skydrive Pro was actually just Sharepoint. This was annoying because I actually like the Skydrive interface. Also, the un-user-friendly features of Sharepoint are right in the face of all the users.  My overall dislike of Sharepoint in an educational environment still has not changed, but at least there are now ways to avoid some of the Sharepoint specific issues.

Overall, feature for feature, Office 365 is still lagging behind. There is still an obvious focus to keep users on the desktop. Some options required a shared item to be downloaded, worked-on, and then re-uploaded. For example, moving a file straight from email to Skydrive Pro for editing is not always possible. The collaboration tools are there but slow and not as fluid and flexible as Google Apps. The menu system is a copy of the desktop based software, and that seems odd to me considering the various interfaces which are proven and being used all over internet.

If I wanted to be critical, I would be here all day. Instead I will say this, if you are already paying for MS Office Licensing, and you can afford it (and the upcoming rise in prices), then Office 365 is not that bad. You can move to a more collaborative philosophy leveraging its features without too much time spent training on a new system.

I forgot to mention, Office 365 is not really free. There are various levels of the Office 365 package. If you want to have desktop software for the users, then you will be paying a per user fee. It is not the same as Google Apps, so keep this in mind. The normal model is to use the free tier, tier 2, for students and tier 3, the cheapest paid tier, for teachers and staff. This means the students will have to acquire their own desktop software if they need it.

The licensing game can get complex. Anyone on Office 365 should really be either 1-1 devices with students or heading there. There is no need to pay licensing for teachers, staff, and shared hardware. Savings will come only if you are not paying for licensing for shared student equipment.

The overall experience of Office 365 left me feeling as I did many years ago when I first started experimenting with Google Apps. I had to keep my desktop software, but sometimes, I could do something cool with Google Apps. Now of course, if I had Google Apps, I would dump my paid desktop software and use something free or cheap for specific desktop processes.

At first I felt nostalgia, but eventually just some nausea from the time travel. Oh well, how does it go…?
If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with ~ Stephen Stills  via Billy Preston.

Tony DePrato