Google Docs v. Office v. Other

You have an article, letter, or notice to type up. What are you using?  Still instinctively launch that big blue W? Perhaps you have gone cloud and use Google Docs? Or maybe you use a mobile app like Pages, Evernote, or QuickOffice?

Which one should you be using? Which one should we be teaching school children how to use?

Yes.

Which one?

Yes.

All of them.

We need to stop looking at software applications like politics, where you fall into one camp or another, get bumper stickers and join fan clubs. Do you really care who made the fork you eat your dinner with? We need to get used to change. We need to get used to trying everything out, and learning it’s best features. We need to do this, and teach younger users to do this, because these platforms and applications change quickly. Even attempting to master something like Google Docs is an evolution because the interface or features changes every six months or so.

Change is constant. Does that mean we must master every tool that comes along? Good luck. Instead, we need to be open about checking out new programs and finding out what they can do for us, instead of assuming it is in our best interests to respect continuity. Continuity is illusory in that it resists inevitable change.

Go ahead, try something different. It won’t hurt at all. If you like it, try to define what you like about it. There may later be an application that is even more like it. If you hate it, try to define what you hate about it. Anything other than “it’s not what I’m used to” is valid. Use that information while evaluating tools in the future.

We must by the same token teach students that it is a toolbox, not a ballot box. We don’t have to stick to a party. Enabling students to learn to evaluate digital tools to their greatest advantage is far more valuable than investing years teaching usership skills for a product that may well be obsolete by the time they have to use it for anything in their adult life.

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