Have you been using Office 2007, or the new Office 2010 Beta (which you can download and use for free until late this year)? Perhaps you’ve found the ribbon interface to be confusing and have been frustrated (as I’ve been), trying to figure out formerly simple formatting commands. Microsoft provides tips and training for getting up to speed with the ribbon, but Microsoft Labs has recently come out with something new – Ribbon Hero.
Ribbon Hero works with Excel, PowerPoint and Word 2007 and 2010 only. During the install process, you may be prompted to download and install Microsoft VSTO, so for most of us, there will be two downloads. After the install, pull up one of the office programs and you’ll notice a ribbon hero button over to the right on your ribbon. Simply click to open and get started. After you’ve achieved some points, you’ll be asked if you want to connect with Facebook in a friendly competition with other RH users. There’s also a Facebook fan page if you’d like to join. It was nice to see that Ribbon Hero scores will be shared with your friends only if they are Ribbon Hero players as well.
Ribbon Hero is an interactive game where points can be achieved by simply doing your usual work, or you can ‘take the challenge’ and choose from a wide variety of tasks to perform. Below you’ll see the interface for working in Excel. There are three ‘Challenge’ categories and then specific challenges/tasks to accomplish within these categories. Simply click on one of the challenge tasks, complete it and you’ll hear a congratulatory tone, a couple balloons will rise and you’ll be awarded points.
If you choose a task that you’re not familiar with, there are hints and articles right there to refer to. I did the conditional formatting challenge – something I’d never heard of – and learned something new.
Most people will learn faster and retain longer using this hand-on, practical interface. The examples are down-to-earth and the student can easily apply these examples to real-world work and accomplish tasks faster.
I’m using RH on two computers – one with the beta Office 2010 and one with Office 2007. I wondered if the software would be smart enough to know I was using it on two computers and combine my score. When I did the Facebook connect, I was pleasantly surprised that it did recognize that and it asked if it would be OK to combine the two scores – very nice.
I know Ribbon Hero’s only been out a couple of weeks at this writing, (2-5-10), but here are a couple questions:
1. I’m wondering if they will develop the game for other Office apps.
2. Will the ‘challenge tasks’, be changed and refreshed? Right now, I’m seeing about 8 or so tasks to complete under each category. Realistically, that won’t take too long for someone to complete and then what? I’ll ask these questions on the Facebook page and see what I get.
Interactive training with immediate feedback and having the social aspects (with Facebook), is very progressive for Microsoft. I haven’t seen anything as innovative as this with Google, Open Office or Zimbra. If you or your company is thinking about upgrading to Office 2007, take advantage of this free and innovative training.