Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thing # 18

Open Office: Although I should have known about this – had I kept my ListServ subscription to TCEA’s Open Source group – I re-discovered it this last semester. I had students working on a Holocaust project on a bank of Dell mini-laptops. Most were using Word and PowerPoint for their submissions. Suddenly, their creations would not open! I noticed the weird extensions on their files….they had been created in OpenOffice and were trying to open them with MS programs. I was shown how to make the conversions, but when I tried to duplicate it yesterday, I couldn’t get it done with Word. I did notice PowerPoint immediately converts. I endeavor to preserve! The reason this was a concern for me is that these mini-laptops were erroneously imaged with BOTH OpenOffice and MS. This creates an unnecessary level of complexity. Once the error is corrected and MS is removed, the conversion issue will disappear. There are some differences in functionality, between OpenOffice and the more familiar MS,, but they are about as significant as the differences between XP 2003, 2007 and Vista – not insurmountable or unlearnable (just because it ain’t a word, don’t mean it hadn’t oughta be!). I look forward to learning those differences. One of the reasons that make this a perfect tool for students is that I have come across many that have a home machine for e-mail, IM, and Internet games, but do not the MS suite. This solves that! I don’t see a disadvantage unless you own stock in MS.
Google Docs have been around for some time and I have used them in a number of capacities – mainly for sharing committee work and sharing notes with colleagues from conferences. Using them with students is the next step and I can see many uses from class responses to current event prompts, to book club discussion extensions to peer editing. The only disadvantage involves web access.

1 comment:

  1. There are a few quirks with Open office...but for the price it is okay...still don't know if I want to give up microsoft office however.
    Google Docs is the way to go...with the minis the school district is using docs is the answer.
    Keep on trekking...