What is your preferred platform for regular digital work? What makes it your favorite?
I learned how to use Microsoft Word and Appleworks (yes, I’m old) in high school. I continued to use those tools for basic word processing tasks through my first few years of teaching. At some point, Appleworks went away. Not a big deal. As a second-grade teacher with just a few old iMacs in my classroom for kids to play games on, I didn’t need very robust technology tools. Or so I thought.
I migrated from Microsoft to Google Drive in 2011 when I became the curriculum director for the district. It was still mostly unheard of to my colleagues, and I began evangelizing the benefits over Word. As soon as people worked on their first shared document, they were sold for new creation. I didn’t have to do much promoting other than giving them experience using it. A couple of years later, the district decided to not purchase Microsoft products for the students or renew it on the teachers’ devices, hoping to push them to make that final conversion into Google Drive.
This was more of a process for “seasoned” teachers who still housed large amounts of instructional materials in a local server. They complained about the time it would take to transfer their files over to Drive. I also remember arguments claiming that we weren’t adequately preparing our students for college if they didn’t know how to use Word. To me (then and now), it makes the most sense to teach them word processing skills, spreadsheet functions, and presentation design regardless of the platform in which they choose to work. There are no guarantees that their professors and/or workplaces will only use Microsoft. A colleague said, “Word is a teacher-comfort, not a student-necessity.”
I’ve worked entirely in Google Drive for the last six or so years. Recently, I have had to use Office 365 for a couple of the school districts I’m working with. So I can be better versed in it, I’m trying to use it more when my muscle memory really wants to open Google Drive. And I find myself lamenting over this change just as my former colleagues did when I asked them to totally convert to Google. It’s taking me three times as long to do anything in O365 simply because I am not used to it. Microsoft has done an outstanding job revamping their platform to compete with Google, but some of the functionalities are different. And those differences are pushing me to the verge of tantrum throwing.
Most recently, I was working on a PowerPoint while sitting in the airport. I knew I had a two+ hour flight ahead of me and was happy to get some more concentrated work time in on this project. Now I have done this multiple times in the Google Slides platform with no issues. In PowerPoint, however, I opened my Chromebook (my favorite device for traveling) and discovered that I don’t have offline capabilities from OneDrive. It’s a good thing I have some traveling etiquette established, otherwise, I might have taken this discovery with a bit less decorum.
Could there be offline capabilities that I”m not aware of? Definitely. Will my work in O365 get easier as I become more accustomed to its nuances? Of course. Do I relate more with my former colleagues as I march through this change? Absolutely. Is one platform better than the other? While I want to answer “Google”, I know that’s just my comfort zone talking. And very little learning occurs within a comfort zone.
So I will keep plugging away, but maybe with a bit more sensitivity in the future when expecting others to make a change that takes them out of that zone.