. Free is great
but in training students for advancement into the outside world, should
we not be teaching them to use the most common software products?
I'm a little late on chiming in on this one, and while I don't work in
education related environment anymore, I do have some very strong
feelings on this. If you are a vocational tech environment, teaching a very specific skill, eg word processing/MS Excel, then yes this would apply. However, I feel that this is an area where I was let down when I was in school particularly, and in many cases I don't see a change from then. Students need to know the basics, why things do what they do. In our daily lives things change all the time, and I deal with end users who have severe problems when tech changes because they only understand what they've been specifically taught to do and work with by rote. They've been taught this way their entire lives, they don't know how to learn on their own. What I would have given for someone to keep changing their tools, and letting them learn how to learn a new system, not cling to the old out of fear.
As an example, my team was interviewing recently. We specifically stayed away from those individuals who only have skills in what we worked with today. When our priorities change, when our projects change, when our tools change, we need people who can adapt quickly, not someone who has to be sent to a training class to learn a new app which may change again in 6 months. That is the outside world I deal with, and that is, as soon as you "know" something, it doesn't matter anymore because it's time to move on and learn something else.