Many of us teach cultural analysis and critical thinking in our writing classes. Our first year readers are full of cultural commentary, and we use these texts to teach our students to question the status quo and understand more deeply the implications of the choices they make in this consumer culture.
Do writing teachers do the same when they tell students to submit their documents as .doc files or tell them they need to buy Word from the campus store? Have teachers questioned the assumptions behind their personal use of MS Word?
The article supports this questioning by pointing out several issues and assumptions regarding the .doc format. Notably:
- – The prevailing assumption seems to be that using the .doc format makes it easy to share documents, ignoring the many incompatibilities between versions of .doc produced by different operating systems and versions.
– “When a new version of Office is released and it produces files that are not compatible with other versions of MS Office, this pushes everyone to purchase and upgrade to the latest version.”
– “Microsoft has a known history of using file format incompatibility to force competitors from the market.”
– While MS Office may have some really good features, many of these features are not used often, and without exposure to other tools (e.g., openoffice.org), how can one compare?
– There is a lack of significant innovation from version to version of MS office, and this may be due to the hypothesis “monopolies don’t have to innovate”.
If you are a teacher of critical thinking, the power of influence of our everyday tools and technologies is something you should not ignore.
Update: I just noticed that Becta has officially announced there to be “six credible alternatives to Microsoft Office in schools“. Why is it we never see these alternatives? Think critical.