Online Applications December 22, 2005Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
I have students who insist on not spending a penny for software. Good for them. They are of the opinion that they should not have to shell out money for proprietary software that should be free to everyone. They use WordPad and Notepad for their word processing needs. For most of their word processing needs, those two simple Microsoft tools will work passably well without many of the additional features of the major word processors like Word and WordPerfect.
Some of my more advanced independently-minded students use Open Office, a free suite of word processing and number crunching tools. I quite like the potential of Open Office.
That said, the word processor I like least of all is Microsoft’s Works. This software is native to many off-the-shelf computers. It’s great for simple writing tasks but if you have to send out your files saved in Works, you will cause your instructors to pop a gasket.
The reason I don’t see this happen often and don’t see students insisting on using Works every time all the time is that they very likely have reached an impasse with other instructors going as far back as high school.
Now along comes a new challenge and opportunity in ZohoWriter, an online application for work processing. At first blush, after using the demo login, it looked capable of doing quite a few functions. It is basically an HTML editor with limitations and enhancements. It will allow you to change the font size based on HTML restrictions, which may be limiting for some users. It allows you to export the files you create, send them by e-mail, create a PDF document (I couldn’t get that to work) and even post to a blog.
This might be a very helpful tool for my students who cannot afford the couple of hundred dollars outlay for Office, even the academic versions available at the university bookstore. I do try to remind them that the investment, over the four or five years of their time at the university and well into their first pay check as a teacher would be worth it in the long run.
What intrigues me about this is that there may soon by many web based applications available in the next few years to drive down the cost of using computers. I think I just heard the digital divide close a little.