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Office Software Thread, Should I give up? in Technical; My dilemma is whether or not to keep holding out against the pressure to buy M$ Office. Last year we ...
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    Should I give up?

    My dilemma is whether or not to keep holding out against the pressure to buy M$ Office. Last year we quadrupled (from a very low base) the number computers available to pupils. A lot of economies were made to achieve this, one of which was to install Open Office instead of buying 60 new M$ Office licences. We're an infant school, so chose netbooks, which work well as the small size is helpful and requirement for processing power is limited. The saving in licences therefore bought an extra 12 computers.

    The children have no problem using OOo, but it's very unpopular with staff. This is essentially the inconvenience factor: not only unfamiliarity, but the fact that templates they've prepared in M$ Office don't work due to formatting inconsistencies and the fact that every time a new user uses a client for the first time, it forces you to go through the registration process.

    Staff have to have M$ Office licences as it's part of our contract with the LA to use their centrally hosted services (RDP to a Win 2008 server). OOo isn't available on Central Hosting, so school admin docs will always be produced in M$ and so we won't get away from formatting problems.

    The above doesn't make a very convincing argument for OOo, but: Buying licences would use up half of the entire ICT budget for the year; We should teach children capability to adapt and not force them / their parents to add to the profits of an American conglomerate; Teachers have to use Office 2007 (upgrading their licences would take the remainder of the ICT budget), so we'd either still have an inconsistency or I'd be installing a version 2 generations out of date and be perpetuating the requirement to keep adding to M$ coffers.

    I'm not supposed to control the ICT curriculum, but I do have a responsibility to ensure best value. Has anyone else won this battle, or should I just give in to the inevitable?

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    Do you have a lot of staff? Maybe EES would work out cheaper? - You can buy just the office licences on EES if you want, you dont need the full os and cal bundle.

    Steve

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    mattx's Avatar
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    Typical teachers really and not the sort of example they should be setting. Still it does not surprise me in the least and it really shows just how bad and lacking ICT development and skills 'teachers' actually have. As you have stated if the kids don't have a problem with it then the teachers and staff should not have a problem with it. I would explain that because of the cost involved it's a no brainer. I would also quote David toff Cameron - ' We Are All In This Together....'

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    Your issue with regards to the registration process can be easily fixed.

    Secondly it depends on the head of the school, if they support using openoffice then keep using it, staff will adapt over time. If the Head wants change then accept that change is inevitable, cost up upgrading the licenses versus schools agreements etc and make the best choice.

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    jstuttard's Avatar
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    EES might work out more cost effective for you, we went over to EES as we are anticipating a massive increase in the number of devices.

    Perhaps staff don't see the costs involved - show them how much it would cost to "upgrade" to Office 2010 and ask them if they think its worth it, compared to what you want to spend the money on.

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    It sounds to me like you could do with EES licensing or something. We're a primary school and I always roll out Windows 7 using Office 2010 nowadays. I tried OOo a few years back before promptly switching back to MS Office.

    Don't get me wrong, I love free and opensource stuff and am grateful for it, but OOo is very clunky and slow from what I've found (even compared to Office...) and realistically, Office is the gold standard in like 90% of jobs that involve computers nowadays, give the kids what they're going to end up using.

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmak View Post
    The children have no problem using OOo, but it's very unpopular with staff.
    Teaching and Learning.

    The pupils know OOo now, making them change will set them back.

    Plus, you'll have compatability issues the other way. [Stuff made in OOo won't work with M$ office.]


    This is purely personal experience, but I've never had issues with OOo reading M$ Office files. The formtting isn't broken either.


    If you DO have to switch, make sure your OOo files are saved as the equivelent Office filetype instead of .oxx [xx because there's a few filetypes. ott, oth, odt]

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    You could argue when you budget for new machines, software licenses should also be taken into consideration from the beginning. Seeing as you're using Office 2007, I'd wait until early 2013 when Microsoft will launch Office 2013. You may as well skip a version saving you more money. I wouldn't recommend upgrading to every new release Microsoft creates.

    Using different versions of MS Office or Open Office does create problems, but I appreciate budgets will only stretch so far. Being able to offer users 'log on anywhere and get the same applications' does reduce problems.

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Ultimately it won't be your decision whether or not to make the spend. It will be your HT who will make their own mind up based on what they think is best for teaching and Learning (i.e. the staff and the pupils)... and who may have to go the Governing Body if the spend is high.

    It shouldn't be coming out of the general IT budget if the spend will be such a high proportion of it. At my school, I make a stand at times like these and it is budgeted for separately. But that can't be done without a clear idea of the costs, both software and your time... fag packets won't do!

    You need to do your homework now. How much would it cost for Office under the various schemes available?

    With many devices and few staff, EES may well be the best way forward. (Just remember that anyone who works for 200 hours or more per year and uses the computers will count as full time - that's roughly 6 hours per week term time only)

    Don't worry about the kids learning new software... working with infants, I'm sure you're aware they pick new things up VERY quickly... definitiely more quickly than the staff !

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    jmak (19th September 2012)

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    Thanks everyone. I am putting together a response to take to SMT next week and will have to include accurate figures, but for it to work, I will need to achieve something in terms of "heart and minds" as well. To add a bit more information:

    Last time I looked, EES would have been about the same cost year 1, but would tie us in to a similar spend level every year.
    @Achandler: The Head is currently on my side - but rest of the SMT is not.

    M$ Office is the gold (well most widely used) standard, but 2013 looks pretty different to the Office 97 I started work with 13 years ago - which is the length of time it will be before our kids hit the workplace.
    @Michael: We did include licence costs when we bought new computers - and made a positive decision not to buy M$ Office. I'm just being asked to revise that now.

    I would buy 2013 licences, but that would only cover half of the clients in the school, as the teacher's laptops only have 2007 licences. Also from what M$ have released over the last few days, Office 2013 looks like mostly a subscription model anyway, so will always incur ongoing costs.

    We have lots of part time staff, which drives up the cost of EES.

    Any thoughts on exclusively using the free M$ Office web apps or google docs?

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    We upgraded all teaching staff to MS Office 2010 over the holiday. Not a big leap from MS Office 2007 but you should have heard the whingeing on the first day back......

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    Quote Originally Posted by tech_guy View Post
    We upgraded all teaching staff to MS Office 2010 over the holiday. Not a big leap from MS Office 2007 but you should have heard the whingeing on the first day back......
    They're not that different though really! Office 2002/2003 > Office 2010, not so much Office 2007 > Office 2010.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmak View Post
    I would buy 2013 licences, but that would only cover half of the clients in the school, as the teacher's laptops only have 2007 licences. Also from what M$ have released over the last few days, Office 2013 looks like mostly a subscription model anyway, so will always incur ongoing costs.

    Any thoughts on exclusively using the free M$ Office web apps or google docs?
    2013 is due to have the standard volume licensing too, it won't just be subscription based, iirc.

    I know people who have used Google Docs exclusively and get on just fine with it, the only problem is it doesn't have half the features Office has... saying that I doubt your young pupils would be using said features.

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    Would Office 365 Web apps not be sufficient for them? Might be a way forward.

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    ricki's Avatar
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    I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by steveg View Post
    Do you have a lot of staff? Maybe EES would work out cheaper? - You can buy just the office licences on EES if you want, you dont need the full os and cal bundle.

    Steve

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