Versatility of MS Word – #3

Nov 11, 2005 by

The use of MS Word as a web page creator can elicit many feelings from educators; some see it as an abomination of a web page editor, while others see it as a perfect tool to ease students into publishing on the web. Whether you’ve used it as a web page creator yet or not, there are many, many reasons why publishing to the Internet is beneficial to students’ academic success (one of the best being to provide truly authentic audiences). Some educators may argue that students publishing to the Internet should learn proper HTML code to create web pages, but truth be told there are far too many tools being used by both educators and design professionals that eliminate the need to write in code. I digress….the ability to create simple web pages with MS Word is simple enough that any user can accomplish it.

You don’t have to be highly tech-savvy to make a web page using Word (as many tech-savvy educators will attest). Any typed project, whether it is a report, a newsletter, or a brochure can be saved as a Web Page under the file menu. Links that you’ve inserted will remain links to other pages, images and pictures will remain intact, and design choices like background color and text color will be preserved (although I wouldn’t recommend playing too much with colors). I realize this post may be very old news to many readers, but it’s something worth pointing out as many school districts spend thousands of dollars on expensive web editing software that more than likely won’t be utilized. Especially when elementary and middle school age students just need to publish simple, non-dynamic projects online (middle school and high school students should focus on using commercial software). A word processor that probably came pre-loaded on the computer can accomplish this without the need to use more advanced, and pricey, web-editing tools. The amount of professional development dollars needed to train staff would be considerably less as well. What are your thoughts on this?

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4 Comments

  1. Angela

    Ben,
    You bring up some good points about using Word for a web page editor and so I will look at this again. I have encountered problems with formatting and inserted pictures.

    Here is an example: I have been helping teachers use Blackboard as a home/school communication tool. When we convert a word doc to html for posting on Blackboard, the pictures in the orginal document do not appear in the html format. Any ideas?
    Angela

  2. Ben

    Ah, you speak of an problem I’ve experienced as well Angela. When you convert a document to a web page the images cannot be imbedded due to HTML code. When you save them as a web page you have to upload the images along with the HTML file. When I served as webmaster for my old school I converted newsletter into web pages and it usually created a folder with all of the images for me. I then uploaded that folder with the images along with the file so that everything was on the web page. Of course, if Blackboard doesn’t let you do that (I haven’t used Blackboard in a while) you could always convert them to PDF.

  3. Yeah, MS Word is good for quick Web pages, but why not just use Blogger or something else if it’s a quick solution to get information onto the Web? I’m a bit of a standards freak and I can’t stand the idea of using Word as a Web page generator. It’s fine to edit some code, but to use it to generate pages is an abomination to that side of me. Of course, as an educator, I see the value and standards be damned; if Word allows my students to do something creative and interesting to them while at the same time showing me some skills I need to evaluate, then I’ll use it.

    Using something like Blogger means that no one even needs to worry about FTPing, a skill that would use up all that time saved using Word and then some to teach. I just can’t think of an instance where Web editing tools would be necessary other than a Web editing class (in which case, using Word is heresy). If images are involved, that might be a good time to introduce Flickr.

  4. Ben

    I had a feeling either you would comment on the abomination that is Word (at least for web editing), and I would tend to agree that there are more powerful tools as well as better suited tools. I had to stop myself a few times while writing this post to let the educator in me convince the techie in me that this indeed should be posted on the site; after all, the site wouldn’t be sub-titled “a practical guide” if I started commenting about the power of Dreamweaver, a very powerful yet expensive tool, or some other web editor. I use Dreamweaver for most of my work (outside of this site which is run on WordPress), but I thought it important to all of the teachers out there that I’ve come across with the mantra of “I could never make a web page, it’s too difficult.” True, with the advent of CMS systems like WordPress, Blogger, and others Word seems a bit archaic, but for those educators still hard pressed to do more than check their e-mail Word is a program that offers many benefits with little time investment needed.

    I do agree with you that in the long run we should be finding more elegant ways to publish on the web (namely a blogging tool and flikr in combination). I’ve been looking into the 21publish.com site to see what they have to offer. I’ll post in the forum with my findings when I’m done.

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