These days kids mostly use computers for gaming, or in some instances, browsing. When it comes to kids’ usage of computers, special care and attention is needed, in that determining what they see, who they interact with, how they spend their time and quite a lot more. Various services and programs have been developed to help kids interact with computers more productively and learn while having fun. Amongst such programs and services comes a contribution from the open source community, in the form of OOo4kids. Derived from OpenOffice, this is a version of OpenOffice especially designed for 7 to 12 year olds. It comes with a word processor, a spreadsheet program and a graphics application. The interface is colorful and attractive, designed with young minds in view.
The intent behind OOo4kids is to give young ones a feeling of “owning a grown-ups’ program” while keeping it easy for them to learn the usage of most basic functions of an office-suite. To achieve that, the developers of OOo4kids have kept things to a bare minimum, and included only the most essential stuff. For example, all the menus are trimmed down, and the word processor allows only the choice of font, color, size, and bold/italics/underline. Some other options are there, but they require enabling separately, and the ability to do so has been kept password-protected. Hence, you can make available certain advance features to your child as he/she progresses through learning of the application.
The Calc and Impress programs allows children to learn basic spreadsheet usage and presentation designing, without overloading their minds with complex menus and dialog boxes. Throughout OOo4kids, the buttons remain colorful. The Impress program comes with a very helpful wizard that allows a kid to create a great looking presentation with just a few clicks, and modify the content later.
Overall, OOo4kids is a great idea, especially since it encourages children to use computer for something other than playing games or social networking. The program is easy to learn, and attractive to ages 7-12 particularly because it satisfies their feeling of ‘growing up’. The application is currently available for all three major platforms, i.e., Mac, Windows and Linux.
OO04kids is a good example and proof how technology has changed our lives, and how younglings’ creativity can be stimulated through the use of digital tools. A learning experience is almost always more enhanced with specialized, tailored equipment and material, and OO04kids might prove to be just that for your youngster between the age of 7 to 12. Let us know what you think.