Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Word Processing Alternatives

Buying Microsoft Office 2007 can be an expensive purchase for a college student (Microsoft lists Office 2007 Standard at $399.95, the educational price is $148.95). This product has many features a student may not use unless they are taking a computer applications course. What other options do they have. Well, there are a few applications that are available for free. That's right free!
  • IBM offers a free download of IBM Lotus Symphony which has word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs. Symphony is complete with an installation guide and reference cards for people who have used Office.
  • Open Office is another program that requires a download to your computer. It has several applications that can be used, including databases. They claim to be the the leading open-source office software suite.
  • Google Docs is another free program that does not require you to download a program to your computer. You can even save documents at Google Docs.
  • Like Google Docs, Zoho offers applications that do not need to be downloaded to your computer. And like Google Docs, your work can be stored on their server and can then be accessed from anywhere you have computer access.
  • Buzzword, from Adobe, is another free word processor that does not have to be downloaded to your computer. It's a little different in how it works (it uses Adobe Flash), but it will still store documents. One nice thing about being able to store a document somewhere other than your computer is that others can access it. This makes collaborative working easier since everyone can access a document regardless where they are located.
So, if you have students who do not have access to word processing, spreadsheets or presentation software, you now have some options to share with them. Remember, when they submit a document they should save it in a Rich Text Format so it can easily be opened.

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