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25
Sep

What happened to Microsoft Office?

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?

23
Sep

TL2014 – Resources you may find useful… 09/24/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

23
Sep

Looking for technology help?

We are in the process of developing a Technology Help Site that can be used as a reference for our teachers and students with laptops.  We just posted a page with some places on the internet you can locate technology tutorials. Here are sites you can visit.

  • ThinkTutuorial – a site providing free, easy to follow tutorials on a variety of web services and software, including Pages and Numbers.
  • LearnItIn5 – Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today’s 21st century’s digital classroom. The step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slide sharing and much more.
  • makeuseof – This site offers  free downloadable ebooks and cheat sheets for a wide variety of software and web applications.
  • Smart Notebook Tutorials – From the Smart Board site, this page contains tips and tricks for using the Smart Notebook 10 software and Lesson Activity Toolkit. The Smart Notebook software is available on all teacher and student machines.

What other information could we include on the STSD Technology Help Site that would be helpful to you?

21
Sep

TL2014 – Resources you may find useful… 09/22/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

21
Sep

YouTube in Education

YouTube has become a valuable resource for education. Today, YouTube launched a new channel, YouTube Teachers. Visit the site to learn more about what YouTube has to offer students and teachers. Visit the site to learn how YouTube can..

  • Increase student engagement.
  • Provide free access to high quality content.
  • Appeal to all kinds of learners.
  • Lengthen in-class instructional time.
  • Provide students with an avenue to create for an extended audience.

Along the same lines, here is a blog post explaining how the use of YouTube can enhance the learning environment: Five Reasons Why YouTube Rocks the Classroom.

After checking out these resources, what do you think about using YouTube in schools?