TeacherJay is working on a large post compiling links and descriptions of places to get free software, but he was so excited about a new (to him) site that he didn’t want to wait to post it. Thanks to Ionut Alex Chitu over at Google Operating System, TeacherJay has learned about Zoho.com. This site is mostly free and has online services that can be used in place of many office/productivity applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation builder, chat, planner and even a project manager (a few of the apps are limited before a subscription fee is required). This goes a little above what is offered on ThinkFree.com and even Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Although all three services definitely need some work, it is exciting to see that someday we may be able to run all of our software over the ‘net.
Why is this important to a blog concerned with education you ask? Simple. Access. The large office suites are expensive, require updating and do not offer some of the useful features that these packages do, such as the ability to collaborate online, in real-time, without needing to operate a server. As an online student himself, TeacherJay has found that to be an incredible advantage when working on group projects, as opposed to e-mailing attachments back and forth among five people. In a world where the Digital Divide is growing larger by the day, services such as Zoho may make it more feasible for schools, libraries and families across the globe have access to the same productivity software that more economically advantaged people in other parts of the world do.