KOffice in educational settings.
Last night I had a very interresting discussion in the pub about how we, as people, affect the world and how much of what we do actually makes this world a better place. While V. is more the person to go the the poor countries and help out there with nutrition and such basic-human-needs, I have been more looking at the higher levels of the pyramid of needs.
Deep discussions aside, education is what I believe is a basic human right that all people should be able to get. At a fairly early age I loved playing on the computer. At school we had a computer that we connected to a set of lamps and sending a byte to the parallel port made the lights turn on/off based on the bits that are set or unset.
I'm pretty sure that this helped me thinking in binary code for years to come (very useful skill in computer science).
Education can be playful, if we design the tools to be playful. Children book publishers learned this lesson ages ago, but computer general-purpos software has been lacking.
One of the tools that children (and grownups too!) use everywhere is a tool to enter text into a computer. At trolltech I work together with some of the coolest and smartest people I know to make sure that the text engine is the best it can be. We want people writing in Hindi to use this as well as people in Norway, so there is a lot of complexity there to allow for all the different writing styles known around the world. (more about that in my next blog)
At the same time children will not really care about 95% of the features you find in a typical word processor. They, even more then most people, want to be shielded from all that complexity.
Some years ago the idea came up to fork KWord and refurbish it to be more stripped down, and have simpler and bigger buttons. The effort was applauded by many but in the end didn't really work out. It was a great heads up and I took it with me for the next generation of the applications.
As I've been working on KOffice2 high-level design I had 2 user groups in mind, the lawyers office and the Kids "office". The two extremes that I wanted to be able to both have a real use for KOffice. In the last days I finalized a plugin for KOffice that is targetted directly to the "kids office".
I reused the artwork that was created for the kids-office by Dannya well over 2 years ago and ended up with a simple replacement for the more complex standard interface. I hope that kids, and many parents, will appreciate this new user interface.
The simple-text plugin, like all other plugins can be enabled/disabled (or simply not be installed) for people that want a certain look. This makes it possible for one application to be used by all users in the market. The more the user needs, the more plugins he enables. Or in the case of our educational setting we disable most plugins and hide the default dockers.
Feedback is naturally appreciated and I certainly hope that educational distros or just schools will install KOffice2 with their modifications to the default to make it perfect for their target audience. This is what I call user power!
Who is the first to start a new page on the friends of KOffice wiki to write how they use or want to use KOffice in educational settings?
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