Every Friday I like to pull an interesting resource or a discussion-worthy topic from the forum to share with a wider audience. This week, as I reflect upon a session at the Connecting & Collaborating Conference in Holland, MI, I wonder how important, necessary, or imperative that students are taught using a specific set of productivity programs (Word, Excel, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, etc.). There was a time when every student HAD to know how to type, and that has since transformed into every student HAS to know how to use a word processor (typically MS Word), but what I see from Kevin Clark’s presentation about Web 2.0 Tools is that very soon it may be students WILL HAVE to know which online word processor will be the best for their particular project.
How does this connect to an idea previously mentioned in the Tech Savvy Ed forum? Several posts have been made over the past year on the same exact subject of the efficacy of one particular Office Suite over another. After all, just because MS Office may come pre-installed on your computer, doesn’t mean it’s the best tool for the job.
Carags started with reasons why OpenOffice might have some shortcomings when compared to MS Office:
1st: We already have MS Office preloaded on our computers (with purchase)..
2nd… that’s what the students will likely be using in other environments after they graduate. so training should be in that.
3rd:.. I definitely would like to install on a few in the lab..
but since that’s controlled by the District IT… it won’t stay.
To which Nicole replied:
You could argue that not all businesses use MS products. Apple has a wonderful package called Appleworks that is a bit different, but similar. I had students using the Paint program recently, and they were a bit thrown off by the differences. You could argue that students should learn to be diverse and by learning a variety of office products, they are learning how to adapt to different computer programs.
Many businesses will not hold extensive training sessions in all of their programs. Employers will need to learn how to become proficient in those programs on their own time. You would be teaching your students that there are a variety of ways to accomplish the same thing.
Rick then chimed in with his thoughts about helping an elementary school standardize the software on their computer:
If I suggested Open Office so they could standardize software without any expense would the likely hood be that it would work well in an elementary environment. The young folks don’t need a lot of what these suites have to offer.
Which got me thinking about trying to accomplish publishing a presentation to the Internet, which up until now has been a very clunky process using Powerpoint. But now with online tools like SPresent, Zoho Office Suite, doesn’t it make sense to just create your presentation on the web in the first place? It completely eliminates the needs to create, save for the web, find a place to upload, upload, then send out links to the presentation. Instead, you can simply create, save to the web, and e-mails can be automatically sent out with links to the presentation. Better yet, you can even invite others to edit your work, and enhance it, something not possible with the current paradigm of Office Suites.
So what do you think, world? Is MS Office the end-all, be-all of Office tools, or are we in the midst of a revolution in which office software will become obsolete in favor of online word processors, presentation software, and spreadsheets? And if so, what tools online do you see as rising above the rest?