OOXML vs. ODF - Should Ed Tech care?

Those of us in educational technology, at least in the K-12 segment, don't tend to produce a lot of documents that someone will want to read in 10 years. At the university level, where the publish or perish dogma is a alive and well, researchers are producing plenty of documents that should outlive their own tenure.

Those of us in educational technology, at least in the K-12 segment, don't tend to produce a lot of documents that someone will want to read in 10 years. At the university level, where the publish or perish dogma is a alive and well, researchers are producing plenty of documents that should outlive their own tenure.

Obviously, electronic versions of such documents need to be machine- and human-readable decades down the road (Have you ever used a microfiche? It's not as much fun as it sounds.). Herein lies the crux of XML-based document formats. If you have the XML schema, you can read the document. Unlike previous versions of most Word documents, for example, that were proprietary binary formats, readable only with the correct software, XML document formats do away with such restrictions (you mean you don't still have a copy of WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS on your computer and Office screws up the formatting of those old files?).

The ISO is currently deciding whether Office's format (OOXML) will be an international standard. ODF, the XML format used in OpenOffice and related software is a competing standard (already published by the ISO), leaving academicians wondering which format should be used for document archival and leaving K-12 instructors saying "Open what?"

Should we care? Does it matter? As Microsoft is happy to point out, OOXML isn't going anywhere soon, regardless of ISO's vote on the matter. What do you think? Take the survey and talk back below.

[poll id=48]

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