I served as a Director of IT for three years for a private school in Chicago. We had several hundred computers and every computer needed its own copy of Microsoft Office. I don’t remember exactly how much it cost to purchase a new license every few years, but I know it sure wasn’t cheap.
However, new web based applications are popping up all over the place that offer similar features to Microsoft Office, with little or no cost at all. Just imagine being able to provide your teachers, students and parents all the features that they need from Office, without any cost at all. And since it’s all web based, they can use the exact same software at home as well! Definitely something to consider.
The most complete list of "Office 2.0" apps can be found at ITRedux.com, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Writely: Your personal word processor, with a twist. Can also work collaboratively on documents in real time. Completely compatible with Microsoft Word.
- NumSum: Your number cruncher. If you are comfortable with Excel, you’ll feel right at home working on spreadsheets here.
- Gliffy: Perfect for flow charts or as a substitute for Inspiration. Gliffy allows you to draw wireframes and diagrams with just a few clicks.
- Thumbstacks: Build your presentation in minutes with this substitute for PowerPoint. It’s easy to customize your theme and you can even add photos directly from Flickr. The only thing that seemed to be missing was a few thousand annoying transitions!
- DabbleDB: A personal favorite of mine that I blogged about on Teach42. Turns your spreadsheets into dynamic relational databases. Does have a monthly subscription, but I found it worth the investment.
- Google Calendar: Easy enough to handle your own calendar, powerful enough to handle your school’s. Take some time to explore it, many of the features are hidden out of plain sight.
- ScanR: Scan text from a digital photo? Sounds too good to be true! I haven’t had a chance to use this one personally yet. It’s supposed to take your digitial photos of any sheet of paper, chalkboard or whiteboard and clean them up, turning them into searchable PDF’s when possible. Sort of like OCR from digital photos. Looks promising!
When you have some time to play over the summer, check out some of these new online applications and see if they might work for you or your school community. And if you have any other reccomendations, please share!