Word - Microsoft

What is Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a word processing application that is available as a desktop application for Windows and MacOS, as well as an online web application. At Western, both versions are available through Western's Office 365 license for faculty, staff and students. Although Word is ideal for writing documents (Essays, syllabi, meeting minutes, etc...) Microsoft Word has many features that are beneficial to those in the university community such as collaborative editing, ability to analyze reading level of a paper, easy citation creation, and annotation/commenting ability.

What is the purpose of Microsoft Word

The intended purpose of Microsoft word is to create documents of any kind. However there are secondary purposes for the program including using its tools for student assignments and student evaluation. The tool is also good for facilitating group work using the collaborative editing feature. For a list of potential uses outside of basic document creation, see the Teaching with Microsoft Word page from the University of Washington.

How to use Microsoft Word

To use the tool, create a new document and begin to craft a document. Microsoft Word provides a dizzying array of options for how your document is presented including font, text spacing, and table options to name only a few. Good practice for accessibility is to use the built in styles pane to designate headers of different levels, titles, etc... Not only does this provide an outline of the document that can be used to automatically create a table of contents, it allows for easy changing of all styles at once, and improves accessibility.

Where to find Support

This tool is centrally supported


For help, you can contact the WTS Helpdesk


Additional information on Microsoft Word can be found on the Microsoft Word Help Center

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 2 stars


Can be scaled to accommodate any size class but lacks flexibility to create smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating:2 stars

Ease of Use

The tool has a learner interface that may be confusing to some; there is limited opportunity for personalization 

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

In-person or email based technical support is readily available and aids users in troubleshooting tasks or solving problems experienced

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


The tool allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating: 2 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

Microsoft Word fully supports compliance with AODA standards for accessibility (W3 WAI), and makes it easy for materials to be made AODA-friendly

User Foused Participation rating: 2 stars

User-focused participation

Microsoft Word has some limited capacity to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities

Required Equipment rating: 3 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of the tool does not require equipment other than a computer and access to the internet

Technical overall rating: 1 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
OWL Integration rating: 1 stars

OWL Integration

The tool can only be offered in OWL through a link or static representations of the tool (i.e. .doc), rather than a functional version of the tool itself

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Microsoft word is available as a desktop application for Windows and MacOS operating systems. It is also available as a web application which is accessible from any modern browser.

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

Users can effectively utilize the tool with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 etc.)

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize the tool without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 2 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

The tool is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.). Currently Microsoft Word has native mobile apps for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.

Mobile Functionality rating: 2 stars

Mobile Functionality

Basic features of the main tool are functional on the mobile app but advanced features are limited

Offline Access rating: 3 star

Offline Access

The platform can be used offline, maintaining tools and learning content. (The desktop application or mobile app must be used in this case, rather than the online web application)

Usage and account set up overall rating: 3 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Microsoft Word requires an account in order to complete its installation. Western users would use their existing UWO account.  Microsoft "collect(s) diagnostic data as you use Office which helps [Microsoft] find and fix problems, identify and mitigate threats, and improve your experience. This data does not include your name or email address, the content of your files, or information about apps unrelated to Office" - From: Diagnostic data in Office
Cost of Use rating:  3 stars

Cost of Use

While normally Microsft Word has a cost associated with it, the application is available to Western Faculty, Staff and Students at no charge.

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 star

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Users can archive, save, or import and export content or activity data in a variety of formats

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 star

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


The tool has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users. This is mostly available through document collaboration in the online application

User Accountability rating: 2 stars

User Accountability

Instructors cannot control student anonymity but the tool provides some solution for holding students accountable for their actions. It is possible to turn on "Track Changes" to see the changes as a document progresses. In the web app, all students are identified.

Diffusion rating: 3 star


The tool is widely known and popular, it’s likely that most students are familiar with the tool and have basic technical competence with it

Instructor Presence overall rating: 2 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:2 stars


The tool has limited functionality to effectively support an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 2 stars


Limited aspects of the tool can be customized to suit the classroom context and learning outcomes. Although the tools are static, there are such a wide variety that by choosing tools that are appropriate for the intended learning outcome, the experience can be customized

Learning Analytics rating: 2 stars

Learning Analytics

Instructor can monitor students’ performance on a variety of responsive measures such as through the track changes feature.

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 2 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Microsoft Word enables functional improvement to engagement in the targeted cognitive task(s)
Higher Order Thinking rating: 2 stars

Higher Order Thinking

Microsoft Word may engage students in higher order thinking skills (given significant consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating:3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through the tool, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, test their knowledge, etc.) 

Security and Privacy

This tool has been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)


  • Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement poses a risk of binding the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application. However, this is mitigated as it has undergone legal review during the Technology Risk Assessment process.

Last Updated: September 16, 2020


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