We have all either sent or received that MSOffice document, spreadsheet or presentation, only to find it’s not a compatible version. It’s also becoming quite costly to purchase the latest and greatest MSOffice version. In my world of education, teachers and students simply don’t have the funds to purchase Office 2007, now 2010…. and beyond. I use all three of the FREE products below.
- ThinkFree Online is a wonderful tool that allows the user to log in using their Google account or create a ThinkFree account. PDF’s are easily created out of many file types. Documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be created and shared, or uploaded, edited and/or shared. ThinkFree is friendly to Office 2007 and Office 2010 files. It even has a viewer, should you receive a file that you are unable to read.
- Google Docs – part of the Google suite of free products, Google Docs makes is simple to read, edit and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even pdf’s. It does have its limitations – but Google is constantly making changes to improve the quality of Google Docs. I forward anything attachments sent to my work email immediately to my gmail, allowing me to store them in Google Docs. Here is a simple video to give you an overview: Google Docs in Plain English.
- OpenOffice – Don’t purchase MSOffice with your next new computer – simply download OpenOffice, and you’ll be ready for any Office task. OpenOffice is amazing – in many ways, I like it better than MSOffice. Many school systems are moving to OpenOffice, because it saves thousands of dollars in licensing fees. The good folks at Oracle keep OpenOffice fresh, so you are always using a brand new product – not something created in 2003, 2007 or even 2010. There is a bit of a learning curve – especially in Calc and Base – but online resources are plentiful, so don’t panic.
My personal recommendation is to utilize all three of these great packages. I will be posting fresh resources – so check back often, or subscribe to this post for updates. Comment below if you have anything to share, including other similar packages that you like….
For what it’s worth, I’ve had GREAT success with Think Free in the classroom setting. I created a gmail account for all of the students to use and a password for the site and they all log in that way and I can then keep track of student work and then e-mail them feedback, suggestions, etc. The presentation program is a bit pokey, but otherwise just as functional as PowerPoint. Haven’t used the spreadsheet program yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. ~Heather Lawrence