Back to School Technology Tips to Save you Time and Money

Preparing to go back to school can be very costly.  Whether you’re just getting started with your Office Administration courses or simply need supplies and resources for any field of study, software, books and other supplies can really set you back.  While many courses do require you to use certain software or have required books, others may allow you to choose which software you work on and how you wish to learn it.  This is where you will be able to really utilize all the amazing free resources right at your fingertips on the web.  The following are just some of the ways you can save yourself and your classmates lots of time and money.

 1.  Use Free Office Software

Apache Open Office is a free, open-source office suite used for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.  Apache Open Office comes with a full suite of products including Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for creating presentations, Base for database management, Math, an equation editor and Draw for creating graphics.  The software is easy to download and install from the OpenOffice website.

LibreOffice is another great free Office Suite with a super clean interface and lots of feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity.  LibreOffice also includes several applications suitable for any project including Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).

Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and OneNote that let you create, view, edit, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes.  You do not need an Office 365 subscription to collaborate and work together on class projects or group assignments.   This free version of Office is perfect if you need an office suite for creating just basic documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases.   If you need more advanced features such as mail merge, you will need to purchase the full suite of software.  To access and use Office Online, you will need to create a Microsoft Account login.  Once logged in, you will be able to begin creating your office documents right away.

2.  Save Your Files in the Cloud :

Saving your files in the cloud is definitely the way to go and best of all it’s free.  The cloud is nothing more than the Internet or more specifically, a network of servers that allow you to store and access data remotely versus locally on your own computer hard drive. By connecting with computers in the cloud, you can store your files in the cloud to easily share with others. You can also access most online storage solutions from any device you own which makes storing and accessing your files easy and convenient.  While there are many, many cloud storage and file sharing services to choose from, here are a few of the most popular ones that are used in businesses today:

OneDrive:  OneDrive allows you to easily store and share photos, videos and documents for free.  There are currently two types of OneDrive solutions – one for personal use and one for business use.  The personal OneDrive storage gives you 5 GB for free but if you need more space you can currently get 50 GB for just $1.99 a month.   If you happen to have an Office 365 subscription, you’ll automatically get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage.

Google Drive starts you with 15 GB of free Google online storage, so you can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings and videos.  You can also invite others to view, download, and collaborate with you on any of your files if you want, making it great for classroom use.

Dropbox Basic – A Dropbox Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can download free apps to access Dropbox from your computer and mobile device.  Like all popular products, there are paid options if you need more space and you can also earn more space on your Dropbox Basic account by referring others and linking to their social media accounts.

3.  Buy a Subscription of Office

Office 365 University:  If your course requires you to use Office 365 and you’re a student or faculty member at an approved school, you can purchase Office 365 for just $79.99 USD for a four-year subscription.  This will get you the latest Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook) for two devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads, or Windows tablets.

4.  Access Free Online Tutorials

Now that you’ve learned how to obtain or access a version of Office software for free, take advantage of some of the readily available free tutorials to get started using your software.  The free Microsoft online documentation center for all Microsoft Office Applications is a great resource especially if you don’t use a product yet but would like to find out more about it. These courses are freely available and can be found alongside the hundreds of courses and videos in the Office Training Center that covers all major Office applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, OneNote and even OneDrive.  Training is available for all major releases on Windows, Mac, iphone and ipad.  It’s also possible to get training for past versions of Office if so desired.

Microsoft  also recently partnered with LinkedIn to provide some amazing high quality LinkedIn Learning training courses that focus on Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook 2016 and Excel 2016. Here are just some of the free training courses available

  • Getting Started with Outlook” video series that consists of over 41 videos that covers multiple Outlook tasks including how to add and remove email accounts;  how to import gmail into Outlook; sending, receiving and organizing messages; how to add a signature; manage contacts and calendars; manage meetings; and collaborate and share with others
  • Getting Started with Excel 2016 series which consists of over 37 separate videos, you’ll learn how to enter and organize data, create formulas and functions, build charts and PivotTables, and use other time-saving features.
  • Getting Started with Word 2016: In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a blank document or one based on a template, select and format text, create bulleted and numbered lists, change text alignment, and change line spacing. You’ll also learn how to add headers and footers, change page numbers in headers and footers and add pictures and tables to a document.
  • Getting Started with PowerPoint 2016. In this course, you’ll learn the lay of the land including types of slides, design elements, and what’s new Inserting text and images. You’ll also learn how to saving your presentation and how to share it.
  • Free Microsoft Office Tutorials can also be found on officeskills.org at http://officeskills.org/microsoft-office-tutorials.html.   

5.  Use Online Notetaking Software

There are many note taking apps on the market all offering different levels of features and capabilities.  Below are some of the best note taking applications although some of the completely free versions are somewhat limited in features.

OneNote is a free digital notebook from Microsoft that you can use on your PC, Mac, phone or tablet.  You’ll find it’s very easy to type, handwrite or sketch your thoughts into OneNote.   In addition, you can also embed tables, attach files, insert links, webpages, photos and videos into your notes.   OneNote also allows you to organize and save your notes in notebooks and sections for easy retrieval and sharing with classmates, colleagues or co-workers.

Evernote Basic – This popular software allows you to capture, organize, and share notes with other students or your instructor from anywhere. For instance, you can clip pages from the web, pdfs or images and keep them all in Evernote so you’ll never lose track of your data. Evernote also has a good help and learning center where you’ll find access to tips and tutorials, articles and troubleshooting tips.

Google Keep is a simple note taking app allows you to create, edit and share notes, make lists, save drawings as a note, label, color and pin notes and more.  While limited in functionality, it is a great free option, especially for those who enjoy working with Google applications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *