In praise of Word

Ian Neal, a teacher trainer at the School of Education, University of Sunderland, talks to Chris Abbott

Which information technology product - software or hardware - has made a difference to your worklife?

Microsoft's Word for Windows.


I was working with an exam board when I first used the program and I needed to produce manuals for teachers on things like records of achievement. We could do the basic stuff, but the programs we previously used didn't have the whole range of facilities. In 1992 I came to the University of Sunderland where my job involves as much administration as teaching. Now I use the program as my major prop for both sides of my job - all my teaching notes and student handouts, plus graphs, statistical displays and personalised letters to headteachers.

What do you like or dislike about it?

I like the fact that the Macro Reader (for creating shortcuts) is dead easy to use. The thing I don't use very much is the mouse; I use the keyboard alternatives. And I've never opened a manual.

When did you start using it?

I go right back to the original Word and Windows. I went into PageMaker first as a word processor - that was around 1988.

Who decided to buy it and were you involved in the choice?

You couldn't get a word processor for Windows which did what I wanted to do. We had Displaywrite 4 but that didn't have a range of fonts; then Word for Windows came in and we decided to buy it so we could use our laser printers properly.

How does it compare with other ways of tackling the same tasks?

I think Version 2 was the real star because it allowed proper picture-handling. We virtually ditched PageMaker for producing teaching materials then. We made all our worksheets and teaching material with Word. What I really like is that you can link it with Excel and it works! Education is moving more towards business and all those facilities are needed. I rarely use clerical support - there's not much of it in universities anyway.

How do you think it could be improved?

If only the formula function would stop at a blank cell; you get the wrong figure if you don't remember to put a zero in.

If you had more funding, what would you invest in?

Word for Windows does everything I want, so I don't need anything else.

* Word for Windows is available from many education resellers and from: Microsoft, Microsoft Place, Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks RG11. Tel: 01734 270001 * If you have an information technology product that has made an important difference to your life - whether you like or hate it - contact the MultimediaIT Editor at The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. World Wide Web address:

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