OOo class/training/conference help available?

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OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby mister_d » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:27 pm

I'm an elementary teacher that works in a district that is (in the process of) switching to OOo from Ms Office. The problem is getting teachers to actually use it. Are there classes (community college/continuing education), live training (opposed to handouts), or conferences (local level = we obviously aren't able to go to China - that's probably way above us anyhow) available?

Many district staff members are grumbling about this change - I think most are scared of trying to learn something new. At least with Ms Office we could take classes, have trainers come in, or buy one of the "dummies" books to try and ease the pain.
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Re: OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby keme » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:40 pm

There used to be an Open Office for dummies, but I guess that was for versions 1.x. (It seems to be out of print, but still listed at Amazon.)

The official guides are available in ODF, PDF, and HTML (wiki) format, as well as in print. See the OOo documentation project pages. Not quite OOo for dummies, though. But if you have taken classes in MS Office, the transition to Open Office applications should go very smoothly.

I understand the reservations towards change very well. That reservation may be a reason to switch. (For those familiar with MS Office 97/200/XP/2003, it's easier to switch to Open Office 2.x/3.x than "upgrading" to MS Office 2007.)

Furthermore, teachers at large are reflecting, conscious people that see the bigger picture better than the average person. Arguing on the platform independence, open format specification, and freedom of choice for students, might help convincing them. The thriller of OOXML approval in ISO is an additional resource, but perhaps a little long winded and requiring some research.

I know it's not easy. I work in a school where we did use Open Office. We had students, and eventually most teachers too (98%), using Open Office exclusively, and very few complaints about it (and those were mainly from the remaining 2%).Two years ago, the district administration ("fylke", around "county" level I guess) decided that MS Office 2003 software and file formats be the standard for Office use, in education as well as administration (contrary to government guidelines), and bought MS Office licenses for all 1st grade students. Still, there are some users that decline on the offer to install MS Office, arguing that "Open Office is better". Makes me think there's hope for the future. :)
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Re: OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby thomasjk » Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:02 pm

This site may offer some answers to your questions
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Re: OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby acknak » Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:33 pm

I hesitate to say this, as I'm sure that you (like the rest of us) already have too much to do, but it's not all that hard to run your own class.

As I'm sure you know, 90% of the problem is simply getting people over the hump of using something that's different. Once they come to realize that most of OOo will work the same way Office does, and they get oriented to where things are, how to change settings and where to get help (you can always send them here ;-)), most people can do the rest on their own.

We (my local computer group) have run some introductory OOo classes in the public library, where they have a PC lab set up. Schools may also have such a classroom, which you may have access to. All you really need to do as a teacher is show people how to start OOo, and walk them through creating a simple document in Writer and Calc. It doesn't have to be a college semester's worth of information, and you don't have to be a uber-geek expert in OOo. All you need to know is the basics.

One nice thing is that you can give everybody their own, legal, CD to take home and use.
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Re: OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby Runnin' Ute » Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:16 pm

When I migrated to OOo (2.3.1 now running 2.4.1) I had never used it before although I had extensive MSO 1997-2003 experience and almost no MSO 2007 experience.(I despise MSO 07)) Actually pretty easy transition. I did print off and read the migration guide, although I could have got through most of it without it. Some formulas are different, but it really shouldn't be to difficult. (I am an accountant so I had used lots of spreadsheets over the years going back to Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.0 running dos in the early to mid 1980's) Even today there are certain things about 1-2-3 v 2.0 that I like better than Excel - which I have been using since about 1994 or 1995. (it recognized the lack of anything before the first number or cell reference as a formula once you put in an operator (+/-/* or /) so if I put it in 45+67 it would do the addition not give me an error until I told it what I wanted in that position (if I recall correctly).
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Re: OOo class/training/conference help available?

Postby jmaggio » Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:54 pm

Funny thing has happened in my elementary school. We purchased 30 desktops and 30 laptops this summer. I did not purchase MSO licenses, instead I installed OOo 2.4. When the new school year started, I made sure all the staff understood that my lab and the laptop cart did not have MSO installed. No one was signing up for the lab or cart. I was teaching the kids basic OOo and they are doing fine. Then a 3rd grade teacher asked me if I would spend some time with the new cart (30 laptops) in her class. I spent an hour walking the kids through it and they did great. Suddenly the other third grade teacher wanted me to do it also, so we did. I then sent a reminder on the cart and kudos to the third grade teachers and kids. Now everyone wants the 30 laptop cart in class. One teacher sent an 8th grader down and I showed him basic stuff and that's it. She has used it 3 times in the last week. Several teachers have asked me to install OOo in their classroom PC's.

It's all attitude and fear of the unknown. A little help and a dose of competition goes a long way. If the 3rd grade kids can do it, certainly the 8th graders can. Next year i hope to eliminate MSO licenses (2000 and 2003) from all student PC's. At $55 a license to upgrade and 170 pc's in the school, we saved a lot of cash.
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