Special thanks to Todd for jump starting my brain for this post. I had meant to talk about Open Office a while ago, but got lost in the flurry of beginning a new job, settling in with a new baby, and spending too much time after school playing with the kids’ laptops.
Open Office is a completely free open-source office suite, providing tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and more. While it may not seem fairly important to many at first, having an open source solution to office productivity tools is something more schools should consider in these ever-increasing budget crunch times. Eliminating the cost of Microsoft Office from new computer purchases can save thousands of dollars on computer software for a district (even with discounts Microsoft currently affords schools). Open Office also has the ability to save documents using MS Office file formats, making both office suites compatible across Windows and Mac platforms. Those familiar with MS Office will find that Open Office is not terribly difficult to learn, with some tools and menus in slightly different locations. Sitting down with the word processing program from Open Office only took me a few minutes to figure out how to change margins, page layout, and make other simple changes that are most often used. If you’re looking for a few more excuses to try this completely free program out, or need some good reasons to have your tech coordinator install it on a machine or two for a trial run, feel free to use these or list your own as comments:
1. It’s FREE; your school doesn’t have to pay for it.
2. Open source means that improvements and upgrades are timely and pertinent.
3. Students are able to download the program for use on home computers.
4. Exposure to non-Microsoft software encourages students to increase their ability to work within unknown environments.
5. Every bit as powerful as MS Office.
6. Fully compatible with current MS Office files.