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.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.