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Board Meetings

May 19, 2009

Wordprocessing Software Report

Bluewater District School Board licenses the Microsoft Office Professional office automation suite of software for approximately 4000 computers.  The cost for the word processing program Word is approximately $13000 per year.  The package we own is Office Professional 2003.  The expected life of this software is 5 to 8 years.  BWDSB purchased this software package in 2005.  The cost of this software will be $0 after 2010 if we continue to use the 2003 version.  The most significant reason for choosing Microsoft over the ministry provided Corel WordPerfect is Microsoft usage is approximately 95% of all the office automation space in the marketplace. (IDC 2007)

This means that, but for a few, our students, teachers, vendors and communities are all using Microsoft.  The Ministry of Education uses Microsoft, even though they provide school boards with no cost access to other office automation products like Corel’s WordPerfect and Sun's Star Office.

The Microsoft suite was chosen so that we could share files with the Ministry of Education and most other school boards without any problems or compatibility issues.  Those issues existed for the board in the past during out transition to Microsoft Suite.    

The impact for BWDSB ICT during the transition period (Word Perfect, Star Office, Word):

Running multiple office automation products on our images so that we could take advantage of free software caused incompatibility issues with our operating systems. Testing time was in the 100's of hours and issues still would come up later after the image was released to be used in the board.
File conversion was the biggest problem for the ICT department and for schools (teachers). Schools (teachers and students) trading simple homework files would fail because of incompatibility problems.  Students bringing in Microsoft Word files produced on their home computers (Word is standard with most computers) and trying to open them using WordPerfect at the schools was so problematic that out of frustration students and teachers reverted to pen and paper.
The equivalent of one full time technician was required to handle all of the calls ($50 to 60k) was required for the above scenario.  The teacher time to assist all the students and down time in classrooms was enormous.


Moving to the Microsoft Suite standardized our approach to word processing and created a sense of calm with our staff and students.  We have very few of the above issues any longer.  The ICT department has been able to concentrate on other issues and growing demand for more electronic services.  Teachers no longer spend time dealing with file incompatibilities for simple homework.  Students no longer have any issues moving their work between home and school.  Teachers involved in ministry work already have the software they need to communicate effectively.  

Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
May 19, 2009            
For further information please contact
Michael Morgan, Manager of Information, Communications Technology or
Alana Murray, Superintendent of Secondary Education


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