I'm thinking that we would do our students a much better service by teaching them OpenOffice than MS Office.  Here's my thinking.  Whatever brand/version of software we teach kids in high school, the vast majority of them will be using something different when they hit the workplace.  If not a different system entirely, at least a different version. Any kids we recently trained on Office 2003 had to relearn it like everyone else with the gigantic switch to Office Vista.  Few teachers saw that switch coming very far in advance.  It would be pretty foolish to assume that major changes in UI like that won't happen again.  Why not start them out with something different and let them transition to the more ubiquitous program later?  Sure, the transition will be a tad larger for most than it otherwise might be, but this will be offset by the students who go to work for organizations that do not use MS Office.  It will have the added benefit of making the kids who end up sticking with MS more versatile, rather than further entrenching the bias for MS Office.
I have very little problem doing anything I would do in MS Office in OpenOffice, and I consider myself a power user.  OOv3 is not that much different than Office 2003.  I have long since stopped thinking of it as second class software.  I don't think the student who has mastered OO is going to have trouble moving to MS Office, but I think that student is likely to be much less biased and much more versatile than the one who has only worked with MS Office her entire life.
It would also save a heap of dough, but that's just icing on the cake.  The other day I was grading student presentations and realized that the .pptx file a girl had sent me would not open in the PowerPoint 2003 that was installed on the computer I was using.  Rather than take the time to go find and install the converter, I just fired up OO Impress, which opened the presentation just fine.  I love being versatile.  It helps me be more productive.  Isn't that what this is all about?
Stephen Barner
South Burlington High School
550 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
(802) 652-7015
(802) 652-7013 (Fax)
[log in to unmask]
"When we study music, we practice... because there is no other way to become a musician. Neither can we become engineers by just studying a textbook, because practical experience is needed to correlate the so-called theory with practice." Charles Franklin Kettering


From: School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Laurence Booker
Sent: Tue 1/27/2009 9:04 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: IT Courses

I dig your two cents.  
However, if we do not teach our students word processing, spread sheet (notice the
generic, although I favor MS software) Power Point and search engine use, will they be at a
disadvantage when the get to college or enter into the workplace?
I believe they will.  I believe that, without IT -- and I hesitate to use the word tech, since that covers
a ton of other non-IT items -- students are at a distinct competitive disadvantage at college and
President Obama has begun to stress the application of science -- with his personal blackbery,
that includes technology -- and if it's good enough for the President of the United States, it's
good enough for my students.
Next step:  please tell me what you guys do in your IT classes so I can measure my own classes
and what I teach them.  If you're way ahead of me -- and I want to know this, if it is so -- then
I have to catch up.
So...  if you will please give me a brief overview of the projects in your IT classes -- I'm not
intrested in simple keyboarding -- I will be eternally grateful and I will call down the blessings
from the gods in Valhalla upon your classes.  When I get your responses, I will tell you what I
teach in my classes.  You tell me, I tell you.  If you want, I will send you email attachments
of my projects, and there are four of them, each one takes two weks and the final, PARTY,
usually takes three weeks.
To be completely truthful, I am the Business teacher at Windsor HS, and I'm a member of VBTA.  
It is my intention to tie what the VBTA teachers teach in IT into what you guys teach in IT so
I can measure what I'm doing in order to see where my course curriculum is and how it stands
up to your standards.
Thank you from the bottom of my prolific and literary heart.  I await your various responses.
Have an up tick day!!!!!


Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:04:09 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: IT Courses
To: [log in to unmask]

I think Bryant's point is well made: if we ARE including direct instruction in applications at the secondary level, we owe it to our students to generalize. Shouldn't the skills we foster be transferable to whatever applications they use in the future, or do we just assume that they will only be using MS products? I hope not! Students who are only taught how to do things one way with one program may not be as successful when confronted with new applications or emerging technologies.

The other issue is authentic context: until this year I had been teaching 7th/8th grade "Computer Applications" classes as Luis describes in Woodstock: advanced WP, spreadsheets, multimedia and web skills, etc. We have now moved to an integrated model, where students learn and apply those same tech skills within core and Unified Arts curriculum. Although their experience may not be as consistent or continuous (indeed, for this first year it may even be a slight "step back") and it IS more work, ultimately we believe they will benefit from learning the skills when and where they have a "real" application for them.

I DO understand Larry's question: are High Schools in VT requiring tech courses for graduation? Perhaps the question could be what level of integration is being achieved in grade 9-12 where courses and student programs are more specialized? Do students in those grades only get tech experience in computer classes?

Just another 2 cents,

Eric Hall
Technology Coordinator
Waterbury/Duxbury Schools
Washington West Supervisory Union
Waterbury, VT
(802) 244-6100

on 1/26/09 8:26 PM, Laurence Booker wrote:

	Thank you, Bryan, but your response doesn't answer my question.

	Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 17:25:36 -0500
	From: [log in to unmask] <> 
	Subject: Re: IT Courses
	To: [log in to unmask] <> 
	On Jan 25, 2009, at 5:10 PM, Laurence Booker wrote:

		I am interested in finding out just how many of you have
		Information Technology -- using WORD, EXCEL, POWER
		POINT, net searches, integrated technology, etc. -- as a
		graduation requirement at your schools.

	Hopefully, any requirements are for WORD PROCESSING, SPREADSHEETS, and PRESENTATION skills - let's teach skills not programs and not lock the students into a single company's products. 
	Bryant Patten
	FOSSVT - April 10, 2009

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