Open Office, Open Learning

Open Office software has some great advantages for teachers and students. First it is free. For many students and their families  the digital divide is a matter of money. Anything that equalizes the educational playing field is a welcome relief.

The next advantage was pointed out to me by my son. He found that Open Office makes  it easier for him to handle spelling and grammar errors. Like many with Learning Processing Challenges, he found Word Perfect and other programs listing and auto correcting features didn’t always help him identify the correct choice the way Open Office did.

The next advantage is that Open Office can save in a wide range of file formats it reduces the problems students have with completed documents that won’t open either at home or at school.

Two useful features  for are the templates and ease of converting to PDF. I created some templates to assist students and  staff .  The Standard Six Panel brochure identifies what type of information is required on each panel.  Each panel is set up using AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Another useful template is the Standard Magazine Layout.  This template is set up as a Tabloid size. This makes it easier to insert  larger photographs and other graphics. Open office does not become as unstable as Word Perfect when inserting graphics and images. Not all students understand file size, resolution, and print size. Nor are they necessarily familiar with how to properly choose and size an image or a document.

Once the document is finished it can be printed, but an easier way is to have the student save it as a PDF. Here is a Standard Magazine Layout sample .

While students are part of the digital generation they are not all equally adept or comfortable with a variety of programs.  Students with limited background or Special Needs are more successful if templates and examples can be provided.

When they can produce a printed or digital product that looks real/professional their self-esteem and confidence increases and they are more likely to hold on to those skills and produce more.

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