Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pages vs. Google Docs

This school year our district opted not to purchase the new version of Microsoft Office for the Mac computers. Seeing as the Mac already comes with Pages and we have Google Docs for free with our Google Apps accounts, the decision to save some funding was favorable. Of course not everyone thought this was the best idea, but that is another issue for another day.

As I've been working with the teachers to help them adapt to this change, I've noticed that they are trying to do some functions with Google Docs that would be better in Pages and visa-versa. So, I thought it might be helpful to share the strengths of each program to help staff and students make the best program choice when working on a word processing document.

Both programs allow you to import Microsoft Office documents as well as export a document out as an Office document. They both provide the most common writing and editing tasks (spell check, basic formatting, text editing). You can also print from programs. This is where the similarities end.

Google Docs has limited formatting and layout functionality, but then it wasn't designed to be complex. It was designed as a basic online word processing program that would allow you to access your files from any computer with internet connection. This helped eliminate the need for flashdrives or the worry about your computer crashing from a freak lightening strike. Google Docs was also designed for instant sharing and true collaboration. Multiple people can view and edit the same document at the same time eliminating the confusion and frustration generated from emailing a document back and forth between multiple editors. Finally, with this ease of collaboration and sharing, it was meant to pair back the need for printing so a few trees could be saved. Google Docs presents the end of the days when students had to print their paper in order to turn it in to the teacher for grading. Now they simply email their final product as an attachment. Of course, that means no more excuses about the printer being broken or running out of paper or ink - Darn.

Pages, on the other hand, has more layout functionality making it more comparible to desktop publishing software. With Pages you can manipulate images with ease and flow text into different sections of a page or document. You can create from pre-made templates or design your own templates and layouts. Like Office, you can add tables, charts and columns. You can even perform a mail merge from a Numbers spreadsheet. This program is better suited for printing documents or sharing a final product via email. The biggest obstacle for Office users is learning to navigate through the program. My best advise is summed up in one word - Inspector. Make the Inspector your best friend because he will work for you in Pages, Numbers and Keynote. As a teacher, I would use Pages to generate my project rubrics and any other documents requiring more complex features.

There are some great tutorials on Pages in Atomic Learning.  You will need to login with your school email and computer password.  Once you've logged in, select Tutorials and choose Pages version 08.  Pages 09 is on your school computers, but it only gives the changes from 08 and isn't helpful with getting started or the advanced features of Pages.

photo credit: Profound Whatever via photo pin cc

No comments:

Post a Comment