Tuesday, September 9, 2008


So many times I have seen "computer time" end up being "word/clip art time", where kids try out all the different ways they can write their title and put a border around it. What you get is a pastiche of colour and images, but not much content.

There are simple and free ways around this problem. One of my favourites is the graduate program, where kids start with the basics of word in notepad - it does most of the things you need it to do, not least of which is putting words on the page. Graduating from that is Wordpad, which adds more formatting tools, and then on to Abiword for a proper word processing package.

All of these programs are free and you can find the first two under the accessories folder in you program menu. For creating real published documents you can go past Scribus. This is purely and simply a powerful page layout program, perfect for anything from brochures to signs. We use it in our office for all our marketing gumph.

For those that remember the BBC micro, you may also remember the concept keyboard. An A3 Sized touch panel that teachers could program and use overlays on to give students a customised interface. Often used for language activities and story writing.

If you are looking for an equivalent today the closest thing I can get to is Edword, put out by sense in the UK. It is a talking word processor, with the ability to use grids to give student whole words and phrases to click on to include into their writing. For free software it is certainly comparable to some of the stuff out there that cost in the hundreds of dollars.

Keep looking for the good stuff.

1 comment:

Jenna Atkins said...

I do not think that they even do this. I mean I know that the practice of buying essays is very popular among students. They do not even use the notepad. They just do not need. Formatting options are better in the Word document. Plus, there are many online tools that let you format different things. As I have already mentioned, though, students are too lazy to do the homework. They like to re-assign it to someone else. Paid services prosper among students. Thank you for the article.