Students struggle to adapt to Microsoft format

Olivia Bachar

Most students work on laptops that do not include Microsoft Office
Photo: Emma Cottrell

It is now over halfway through the semester here at Illinois Wesleyan University. Throughout the past few months, several classmates and I have struggled with submitting Word documents on our Word-less Macbook laptops. 

Only recently did we learn that we, as IWU students, receive Microsoft Office for free. This was not something any of us were made aware of by faculty members, other students or anybody for that matter. It is quite frustrating to know that the annoying stress caused by lack of ability to create Word documents could have been easily avoided. 

I myself have several professors who only accept online assignments as Word documents, no Pages or PDFs’ allowed. In order to complete this feat, I would have to go through a lengthy and incredibly time-consuming process. 

The first step was to create the document in Google Docs, then to export it as a Word document to Pages on my Macbook and then revert the Pages document back into a Word document in order to submit it as a Word document in Moodle, a lot of steps just to submit my online assignments, some for as little as eight points. 

This whole process could have been shortened to simply creating a Word document on my Macbook, saving, then exporting to Moodle, but that useful fact was never presented to me by anybody during my initial visit nor during Turning Titan week. 

I seem to receive updates on everything from my submitting an assignment on Moodle to information on the latest free events on campus. Yet, nothing about Microsoft Office, not now or during the beginning of the school year. 

To be fair, if you search “microsoft office” on the IWU website, information can be found on how to download it for free. However, I was never told that I would even need access to Word and other Microsoft applications. I figured I could just submit things through Google applications, as I and many others had done in high school. 

Unfortunately, many professors prefer Word documents to Google documents, as they are apparently “easier to grade.” Which is understandable, why work harder when you can work smarter? 

However, if professors expect students to submit Word documents, they should inform them on how to actually get Word, if need be. 

“If professors expect students to submit Word documents, they should inform them on how to actually get Word”

Most students I know have non-Microsoft laptops, either Chromebooks or Macbooks. Neither of these computer companies automatically offer Microsoft applications, as they are Google and Apple products which have their own applications. Microsoft is a competitor of both Google and Apple, obviously Microsoft will not be advertised on their products, and vice versa.

 Also, not every college or university uses Microsoft Office. The only way a student would know to get Microsoft Office is if they are directly told by someone at Illinois Wesleyan University, an older student or faculty member. 

It was the responsibility of IWU to inform new students about the need to get Microsoft Office. To me, Turning Titan would have been the perfect time to do this. 

Students were stuck in quarantine for several days, attending required Zooms and Google Meets. It would have been incredibly easy to do a slide during one of the required meetings on Microsoft Office, where to find it on IWU’s website and how to download it. 

Overall, the school and its faculty need to be more upfront about their expectations for students and resources that are available for us to better meet them.