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September 25, 2011

What happened to Microsoft Office?

by Randy Ziegenfuss

We’ve received a number of questions from students and parents wondering why we did not install Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) on the student laptops. There are two main reasons…

  1. Microsoft Office is a particular productivity software package. Students need to learn skills, not necessarily specific software packages. The skills necessary to use word processing, spreadsheet or presentation software can be learned using any brand of productivity software packages. These skills are also easily transferable between different software packages. It’s really not a big deal to learn other productivity software packages since they all work pretty much the same.
  2. Microsoft Office is very expensive. To install the software on all student machines would have cost the District in excess of $40,000. We believed these funds could be put to better use, especially since we are not teaching specific software packages. Aren’t we doing a disservice to our students by not having them use the software that most people in the “real world” are using? It is a fact that Microsoft Office has a large portion of the productivity software market. However, in today’s world, who knows for how long this will continue. By the time our students graduate, Microsoft Office may no longer the software of choice. This is not such a far-fetched thought in today’s rapidly changing world. All the more reason to prepare students with the skills to navigate any productivity software package.

Salisbury students do have several alternatives to Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheet and presentation. These alternatives include Falcon Apps (Google Apps), iWork and Open Office. In addition to providing students with the opportunity to develop important productivity skills, these products come to us at no cost.

These alternatives provide us with an added bonus – they all open files created using Microsoft Office. So even if you’ve created documents, spreadsheets or presentations using Microsoft Office, you can open them and work on them in all of our three alternatives – Falcon Apps, iWork and Open Office.

Want to learn more about these alternatives? You can find links to tutorials on the STSD Technology Help Site.

Finally, here is a related article: 10 Reasons to Trash Word for Google Docs. Do you miss Microsoft Office? Which alternative productivity software have you been using?

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