I have been using OpenOffice in ICT lessons for some time now. We are moving to a new building next year so we have been very lucky to be involved in the process of ordering brand new equipment and software.
My inclination was not to have MS Office at all - we have a big drive to get pupils to install OpenOffice at home and it does everything we need at KS3. Unfortunately, a handful of staff (and my technician) reacted as if Armageddon was closing in and the head became a little nervous. Trouble is, the staff concerned are not exactly the most ICT literate ones at all. We now have to buy MS Office 2007 at a cost of £10K. A dreadful waste of public funds. It will be used only by that handful of staff :-( That is, until they see how very different it is ;-)
I am having default file associations on all machines pointing to OpenOffice and those who wish to use Office 2007 will just have to use the 'open with..' route.
The problem is that very few people I know who have MS Office have actually bought it - they have either stolen it or, if they are teachers, been given it on a LfT machine. To them it is a 'free' product, just like OpenOffice.
Incidently I did a little experiment with a couple of staff (the moaners) who had left their machines with document open in Office 97. I saved the document and opened it in OpenOffice to see their reaction. They didn't even realise they were using a different application! They just carried on working as if nothing had happened . . . .
I agree that the UI changes in Office2k7 are likely to upset a lot of people. While the OO.org UI is going to look eerily familiar. Was it not possible to test drive Office 2k7 on a machine? So everyone knew what they were about to blindly stumble into?
It really wouldn't have made much difference :-( My technician is avidly pro Microsoft, he doesn't even agree that it is a good thing to work towards having an open document standard where a document can be opened in any similar application. He tends to spread a lot of FUD. The staff who kicked up a fuss also just want Microsoft - in whatever guise. It's like hitting my head against a brick wall. It's the Stepford Wives all over again!
The problem is that many people either young or new to computing have only ever known the Microsoft OS & apps., whereas I've grown up with BBS, Acorn, OS/2, Linux, Apple Mac OS X amongst others. I believe diversity is the way to prepare children for the future, not a blinkered MS approach.
I'm sorry i have to say there are some very narrow minded views being posted on here... I know we all run the networks, pcs and every other remotely electrical device in our schools but some people seem to be forgetting that we are actually employeed to aid the kids learning and the staff's teaching. Forcing OO, Office 2007 or any other package on them because we believe it is best for them just isn't doing that job.
Yes OO is free, wonderful i thought and yes i even went down the route of installing it on every machine and went through a stage of trying to get staff/pupils to use it. I even hand out OO to pupils who have no MS Office. But the general response was that they didn't like it, even though it looked similar to office 2003.
Ok i thought if thats what you want then you can have it as you are the ones that have to use it to teach all day long. So now Office 2007 is installed one every machine as per the staff/pupils requests, OO is on there too for their use but i've never seen it used.