James, I agree with you. The best way to make that happen, I propose,
is to go after the principals. The teachers, to keep their jobs, will
do whatever the principal says do. IT departments, I've observed, are
often overridden by a principal's wishes (that's true in my
district--principals have a lot of pull). The IT dept. of a "Microsoft
shop" will, as I'm sure you already know, buck and kick and do
everything to discredit you ("we already have enough work to do!").
That's why principal buy-in is so important. Superintendents,
generally former teachers and principals themselves, naturally
sympathize with fellow "members of the club."
We all of course regularly hear, "but MS Office formats are the *real
world* standard, regardless of what this foreign thing called 'ISO'
says." They've got a point; MS Office file formats *are* the "real
world" standard right now. What's needed, I think, is a legal reason
or the threat of negative PR somehow. The only way I can think of to
do that is by making the case in the poorer districts where not
everyone can afford gobs of money to spend on MS Office ("so you're
actually focusing only on the wealthy kids?"). Same for places where
they really need to upgrade their computer labs from Pentium II-333's
running Windows 98 but cannot afford to buy a bunch of new PC's. Money
talks, and we know what walks.
Now that Dell is selling Ubuntu PC's, we can use the argument of "a
Big, Reputable PC Company (TM) has now embraced OpenOffice." Matter of
fact, Michael Dell himself runs an Ubuntu Feisty laptop and makes no
secret of that fact.
James P. Kinney III wrote:
I hear repeatedly "We MUST use Microsoft office because that's what
everyone has". I guess "lemmings" comes to mind...
It really bothers me that people who in general will be writing just a
few pages with a picture or two are brainwashed into believing they MUST
have an application that will cost each pc more than the value of the pc
each year in licensing.
Thus enters OpenOffice.org
What a fabulous application. Cross platform so Windows, Mac and Linux
(and Solaris and SGI and...) user can all share files seamlessly.
Yes I _still_ hear the argument "But people don't have OpenOffice at
home so we can't use it".
It costs $0 to obtain a legal copy.
So the often used rule in K12LTSP is to setup OpenOffice so the default
output format is Microsoft Office format.
Personally, I think that is a bad idea. It's just a short term kludge
workaround to not having the resources to train people in how to "Save
But Sun has stepped up and released the best solution - a plugin to
Microsoft Office that can read and write OpenOffice format files.
The file format of OpenOffice is an ISO standard right now. Make sure
everyone keeps hearing that mantra - OpenOffice is standards compliant
but Microsoft Office is not.
Then offer the plugin to help bring Microsoft Office up to current world
Be sure to remind everyone that open document formats are just like
knowledge: good for everyone.
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