MS OFFICE, Open Office or Google Docs?

When I was in high school the only option for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. was using Microsoft Office. Many years have gone by and new competitors are emerging that could potentially eliminate MS OFFICE from the classroom altogether in the future.

This blog post will examine the pros and cons of MS OFFICE, Open Office and Google Docs with respect to how they can be used within the classroom for the most efficiency.

MS OFFICE:

Pros:

  • MS OFFICE is a well established brand
  • MS OFFICE has countless databases and resources that can be used for troubleshooting purposes
  • Microsoft is run by Bill Gates who wants to improve education
  • Microsoft gives bulk deals to school districts purchasing licenses
  • MS OFFICE has been most commonly used with most students growing up

Cons:

  • MS OFFICE is an expensive product
  • School districts may not need all aspects of MS OFFICE, but it is actually cheaper to purchase packages with multiple software programs than purchasing one program at a time
  • Newer and younger students are not being introduced to MS OFFICE any more

Open Office:

Pros:

  • Open Office is FREE
  • Open Office features similar products to MS OFFICE [Writer vs. Word, Calc vs. Excel, Impress vs. PowerPoint]
  • Open Office allows you to use the same file extensions as Google Docs and MS OFFICE
  • Open Office has strong support like MS OFFICE with various resources available

Cons:

  • Not everyone has Open Office. If you save a file with an Open Office extension and try to open it on another computer you will need to install Open Office on that computer.
  • Open Office requires you to download a language pack if you’re not an English speaker/writer
  • Open Office has a forum that is currently unstable at this time

Google Docs:

Pros:

  • Google Docs is FREE for anyone with a Google account
  • Google Docs, like Open Office, offers programs similar to MS OFFICE programs
  • Google Docs offers Forms making it perfect for educational use
  • Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration
  • Google Docs is currently being presented in the classroom the way MS OFFICE used to be
  • Google Docs features many Add Ons

Cons:

  • Google Docs, like most Google products, have limited help resources. Most of the help resources for Google Docs have been published by users of Google Docs.
  • Google Docs privacy settings must be setup correctly to prevent unauthorized usage
  • Google Docs settings need to be setup correctly for successful collaboration

My Overall Summary:

I have used all three of these products at one point or another. The major plus I see for MS OFFICE is that it is still on nearly every computer on the market today, including in libraries and school districts. The major drawback is that MS OFFICE is very expensive and since a new version comes out often at times it seems as though it isn’t worth paying more for the newer version.

I truthfully see myself using Open Office and Google Docs more and more. Open Office is great tool for me since it is essentially a free version of MS OFFICE. The only issue is that it is only on one of my laptops, so if I save a file in Open Office extensions I have to make sure I modify the file on the laptop that has Open Office. Not a big deal, but something to consider.

I find Google Docs is probably the best tool to use for collaboration, especially for coursework. So long as you have a Google account you can invite who can edit documents with you and leave it at that. Google Docs also features Forms which are perfect for use in various classroom situations and numerous Add Ons work well with Google Docs. This allows me and many others to complete various tasks right within Google Docs.

I feel in the upcoming years MS OFFICE will become a thing of the past and Google Docs will likely take over. Google Docs will just need to build a database/pool of resources for usage like Open Office and MS OFFICE have to be the undisputed king.

Six Projects To Create, Communicate, Collaborate

Six Projects To Create, Communicate, Collaborate

Guest blogger:   Dr. Howie ( Howie DiBlasi)

Screen-shot-2014-06-03-at-9.32.50-AM

(Thank you to Bookworks for the use of image)

I’m always interested in finding new ways to learn quickly and efficiently. It’s important to get the most educational value out of my time as possible. I think that applies to our students as well.

One method is to use Digital tools and projects that are models for driving education change.  We can transform our educational institutions into model learning environments that cater to the broadest range of users by using collaboration tools.

There are three parts to the project to make it successful.

  1. Create
  2. Communicate
  3. Collaborate

The projects below allow students to learn 21st Century skills and prepare them to meet the demands of the global community and engage them in mastering core curriculum skills.

Create.

There are many opportunities for educators to bring the right brain activities into the classroom. I believe that I.B.L.(Inquiry Based Learning) is one of the best and innovative approaches. In case you are not familiar with it the role of the student and teacher change. The students assume increasing responsibility for their learning, and it provides students more motivation and more feelings of accomplishment, setting the pattern for them to become successful life-long learners. The teacher becomes the resource, tutor, and evaluator, guiding the students in their problem solving efforts.

The following projects allow students to learn 21st Century skills and prepare them to meet the demands of the global community and engage them in mastering core curriculum skills. All of the projects can be completed in a short amount of class time.

 

Let’s look at how to get started with “Digital Tools” that allow us to create content communicate, and collaborate.

 

 

  1. This I Believe

An international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. These short statements of belief, help students understand the concept of belief, explore their own values, and refine them into a well-written essay. Projects can be created using writing, pod casting or slides to demonstrate proficiency.

Instructors can create a Blog to allow students to post the statements and provide connection to other students as they read.

http://www.thisibelieve.org/educationoutreach.html

 

2. The Best Part of Me

Provides an opportunity for students to identify a positive physical feature of themselves and then work in pairs to take part in an online writer’s workshop. Students create a descriptive poem about their favorite feature, create a digital photo of the physical feature and then create a Photo Story Frame about their favorite feature. The last section allows them to upload the photo and record the audio of their poem on VoiceThread about their favorite feature. Projects can be created using writing, pod casting or slides to demonstrate proficiency.

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/sharing-best-part-me

 

  1. Five Frames

Allows a student to tell a Story in 5 Frames (photos). Students must create and tell a story through visual means with only a title to help guide the interpretation. They can use iPhoto, Windows Photo Story or Animoto to create the projects, add instrumental music and then upload it to YouTube , Voice Thread or Animoto.

 

  1. This Is My Country

Allows students from around the world tell about their lives, families and communities to create a children’s contributory website. It is dedicated to the development of global education by the promotion of: intercultural understanding; language learning; internationalism; and collaboration. The My Country project enables everyone to extend our intercultural and international understanding and gain insight into the differences in their lives.

http://www.kidsinneed.net/projects/SO/k12SOmyselfmycommunitymyworld.pdf

 

  1. The Way We Are: People and Culture

This project assists students in discovering how they are similar and different from students in another country. Research skills are developed to locate the students physical and climate differences in their region and then discuss and communicate with another students about the affect the culture has in another part of the world. The project utilizes ePals. Free e-mail system to connect around the world. The goals of the project are to:

  • be able to compose well-written emails to their ePals.
  • concretely describe specific details of their lives.
  • identify similarities and differences between themselves and their ePals.
  • give specific examples of what it means to be from a different culture.

 

The culminating activity allows the students to create a digital presentations about themselves and their ePals reflecting an increased understanding of the differences and commonalities between their cultures, their environments and their lives. Connections are made via Video Conference to share the projects.

http://www.epals.com/projects/info.aspx?DivID=TheWayWeAre_overview

6. My Town

Students will obtain lyrics from the song “ My Town” by Montgomery Gentry. A Photo Story, PowerPoint or iPhoto will be created to tell about the student’s town that they live in. Connections about the community, schools, people, government, families, children, intercultural, environment will be demonstrated in digital photos.   Contact will be made with the songwriter to obtain permission to use the song in the student presentation.   Students will insert photos, add music, provide copyright credit, determine timing, visual effects and show the final project for evaluation.

 

Communicate

Teaching communication skills often challenges educators. With today’s students communicating via social media we need to incorporate new ways to communicate.

I.S.T.E. has included communication skills as part of the N.E.T.S for students. The standards support the use of use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, locally and at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. The standards promote communication and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats

Collaborate

Students should learn to work with others on a task. Collaboration is an essential part of their academic life. To foster life long learning skills they need to communicate with others and learn how to work as part of a team. While much teamwork takes place face to face, it is becoming increasingly common to work with others via electronic media such as e-mail, Video-conferencing and file sharing.

www.drhowe.com

With resources tighter than ever, and tight budgets we need to utilize the free resources and application that are available for our schools. I have recourses listed on my web site of over 100 presentations, resources, free software and applications for schools to utilize. Check out:   www.drhowe.com

 

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