I have always been a big fan and supporter of Open Source software. Considering the limited technology budget and resources we have in most schools, we should examine Open Source software option before spending a lot of money for purchasing commercial software. One of the Open Source software I recommend highly for students, teachers, and schools is OpenOffice. OpenOffice is a great productivity suite for those who could not afford Microsoft Office.


OpenOffice is free to download, use, and distribute. It was previously known as StarOffice before it became an open-source project in 2000. OpenOffice is available for many different operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris. It supports the OpenDocument standard for data interchange. It is a multi-lingual (more than 60 languages), integrated productivity suite, and contains all of the same components as Microsoft Office, as well as others, OpenOffice comes with OpenWriter – a word processor, OpenCalc – a spreadsheet , OpenImpress – an electronic presentation, and Draw – a drawing package.

Most importantly, OpenOffice is a fully featured office suite compatible with Microsoft Office, Word Perfect, Lotus and other office applications. It can read and save files in Microsoft Office formats, like .doc for word processing files, .xls for spreadsheet files, and .ppt for power point. Also, OpenOffice Base can read table structure and data from .mdb (Microsoft Access) files. In addition, there is a portable version of OpenOffice. You can install the entire office suite in your jump drive so you can take all your office applications, documents, and everything you need to work with them wherever you go.

OpenOffic is very easy to learn and use particularly if you have used Microsoft Office before. If you have never used OpenOffice, why not give it a try. You can download it at You may be able to help your schools, colleagues, and students save a lot of money from buying an expensive office suite.


About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
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2 Responses to OpenOffice

  1. Lisa Mcbeth says:

    Openoffice sounds like a program that all schools would want installed on their computers. It seems that teachers could use this program to keep up with grades and absentees. Students could use it to make spreadsheets and tables for math and science classes. Art classes could use the Draw part of the program to let students draw pictures. Students and teachers can use the Openwriter to type papers.I like that you can install the entire program on a jumpdrive. That means you can carry your office or gradebook whereever you go. That is great for office personnel and teachers.

  2. Christopher Tisdale says:

    This would be terrific program for schools or offices that are on a tight budget. Microsoft Office is a name that is associated with just about all computers. Many people have grown to believe that they are the only manufacturer for programs such as word processors, spreadsheets, and visual presentations. OpenOffice is great because it is compatible with Microsoft products and there is no need to convert your files.

    Schools would benefit tremendously with this program because it is free. It is easily installed because it can be downloaded onto a jump drive and uploaded to every computer. Businesses would also benefit with this system for the same reason. There are many businesses that spend thousands of dollars a year on systems such as Microsoft Office. If this program was widespread and advertised like Microsoft Office, I could almost guarantee that it would drive the price of Microsoft down, making it more affordable to those that would still like to use it. OpenOffice is a terrific alternative.
    The fact that is it similar to Microsoft Office and is easy to learn is also a reason for people to try it. Most people are more familiar with Microsoft Word and would not want to change to a program that would confuse them. Because OpenOffice is able to convert to other office programs as well as Microsoft Office, many people should be able to learn the system with ease.

    I will be looking into this system and trying to convince my district to consider it in their budget. I believe that they would adapt the system when I prove to them that it will save money. I do not know of any school district that would not like to have a bigger budget for needed supplies other than Microsoft Office Suites.

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