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back to article Entire class fails IT exam by submitting in Word format

The 29 students of a computing class at a school in Lincolnshire have all failed to gain their diploma because their teacher told them to save their coursework in Microsoft Word format, which is not accepted by the exam board. Edexcel rejected work from pupils at Cotelands School in Ruskington who were studying for the Diploma …

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Unhappy

Back in the days

Before you were allowed to type course work, my history teacher lost every course work book, each with 4 x 2000 word essays. I still don't know to this day how she managed to lose 20 exercise books...

I asked at the time, why I was being punished with extra work (and would probably get a lower mark because of rushed work) but got the distinct impression it would be more work to persue it than just redo it.. I hope the publicity around this case helps these guys get a reprieve.

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Linux

UK schools have been required to use OpenDocument since 2007

It was a requirement from BECTA in 2007 - they're not even allowed to buy Office anymore. OGC will probably be coming down on that school like a ton of bricks, methings...

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Coat

lucky kids

i think they are lucky that they could submit in a digital format at all, my course (advance gce in applied ict) you had to print EVERYTHING out. if you made a web page, program, animation, video ect. then unless there was an obvious problem the examiners wouldn't know that we messed up. yes wrong file format = fail but no files = bigger fail. well at least they couldn't reject them because they were the wrong paper or ink

mine is the one with 500 sheets of paper in the pocket instead of a cd

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Joke

Re: What format?

Someone's a fan of The Apprentice. The required format is, of course, Locoscript.

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Oh please....

..most of you just shut up. Better still - STFU, read the slightly fuller story on the BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/lincolnshire/7770850.stm

and maybe have a dig for some information instead of this piss-awful whinging. This bloody story is badly enough reported that it's giving me a fucking migraine without you lot of sodding sheep taking it in turns to bleet "waaah - they should allow Word documents" "waaaah - they shouldn't allow Word documents". The most cursory of searches for DiDA source submissions reveals this (slightly old) document which may indicate what they wanted

http://www.edexcel.org.uk/VirtualContent/94945/11_DiDA.pdf

..or not - who knows - but failing an answer, or more information, from the useless tossers at Edexcel or the schools in questions why don't you lot got off your arses and actually look.

Sheesh.

(Apologies to those who took the time to post sensible and/or informative information - this is obviously not aimed at you)

Tim

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File Formats

There is an interesting page on the Moderator's website regarding a "Toolkit" of applications needed to moderate the coursework, and Word isn't on it, but the Office Compatibility Pack is. Powerpoint is explictly mentioned as a fileformat though.

http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/toolkit/

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Gates Horns

Can the reg readers stop fuming for a sec

I am making a guess here, however I would not be surprised if it the accepted format was Word from MS Office 2K while the school submitted it in Office 2007 aka docx.

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UK schools required to use ODT

Since 2005: http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20051026195537674

(Sorry, forgot to post this on my previous comment)

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Stop

Not following explicit instructions = FAIL

Enough with the "why shouldn't Word be an acceptable format" whinging!

Edexcel provides very explicit rules about what is and isn't acceptable (dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/toolkit/). Edexcel says that you will FAIL if you don't follow the rules. The students didn't follow the rules. Why should anyone give Edexcel a hard time about giving them an automatic fail? Reserve your wrath for the teacher who couldn't be bothered to read the rules.

(I'm a university prof, so anonymous for obvious reasons...)

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Pirate

Alternatives

How about a properly formated XML fiel with a supporting CSS 2.1 file?

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Flame

Hmmm

I work in a school that just had the same thing.

Our teacher realised we couldnt send in .doc, and had to quickly change all the documents to PDF before sending - fucking nightmare.

But, at least we didnt get this sort of bad publicity for actually sending them!

Shame on the teachers really for not actually reading what the exam board accepts!

Would you hand your degree on fingerpainting? Read, what, they, want.

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Alert

@ UK schools have been required to use OpenDocument since 2007

No.

Complete rubbish.

I work at a school, and we aren't required " to use OpenDocument since 2007 " - You can use any software you like to create the work, just as long as it is submitted in the right format.

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Paris Hilton

Accepted formats:

From http://www.ttsonline.net/OnlineCurriculum/LatestCourses/EdexcelDIDA/tabid/107/Default.aspx

"Content must be submitted to the exam board via an e-portfolio. Only the following formats will be permitted.

(Microsoft PowerPoint) .ppt

(Adobe Acrobat) .pdf

(Macromedia Shockwave) .swf

(Web Pages) .htm and html

ePortfolio .zip"

Paris - because she knows what to do with a zip.

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Anonymous Coward

What's wrong with paper?

Call me a Luddite but what's wrong with simply printing the documents and submitting them on paper? Put simply there is no truly reliable electronic document format in widespread use. MS Word format is actually a family of mutually incompatible file formats covered by a thin veneer that is import filters. Anyone who has created a document on one version of Word and subsequently opened it on another only to find that all the margins and page breaks are in different places knows this only too well.

Adobe PDF used to be quite reliable but seems to be getting flakier with each revision to the standard. Multilingual documents used to work reasonably well even if support for the relevant languages weren't installed, not now. Added to which each new version of the spec needs a new version of Acrobat which is always bigger and pesters you to upgrade more than the last one.

Don't get me started on postscript - my postscript printer quite happily prints documents that the likes of ghostscript can't make any sense out of.

For something like coursework papers that must be readable and it isn't really acceptable to go back asking for a version that you can read (lest people abuse the system to gain a sneaky extension) you need to remove these technical issues. Paper printouts resolve the problem nicely.

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Knee-jerkitits

Thanks Tim, reading the requirements its clear what the issue of formats is crucial to being assessed fairly. Presumably this was the only school to fail to follow the submission requirements, and equally clearly that is the issue here, not the poorly represented above holy wars!

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Go

Seems straight forward to me

“Students will present their work in an electronic portfolio (ePortfolio). They will need to understand the difference between document creation and document publication and to distinguish between file formats appropriate for document creation and read-only file formats appropriate for viewing. Students will be expected to present ePortfolio content in a format appropriate for viewing at a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.”

“The ePortfolio must be constructed so that its contents can be accessed using fifth generation or equivalent web browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5 or Netscape Navigator version 5.”

So it must be in HTML

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The relevant lines from the 07 - 08 Information Manual

http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/VirtualContent/97404/DiDA_Information_Manual_07_08.pdf

6.3 eportfolio submission

...

"The eportfolio must be self-contained and constructed so that its contents can be accessed via the Moderator’s Toolkit.

(For further information about the technical specification for eportfolios and the Moderator’s Toolkit please visit the DiDA qualifications section of the Edexcel website at http://www.edexcel.com/dida-toolkit.)

Any eportfolios that do not adhere to the technical specification will not be moderated."

Since the Word Viewer is not in the Toolkit I think they are pretty much in the right for rejecting these submissions. Thought they probably could have got away with "File:Save As: HTML" within Word for a crappy but technically correct submission.

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Mindless bureaucrats

I can't really see this being the student's fault, if they were told to use Word by their teacher. Once the source of the problem was found, the exam board should have allowed the school to convert the Word files into whatever format is required (PDF, probably). Anything else is just mindlessly sticking to rules even when this is clearly the wrong thing to do.

Obviously, the school in question should get a reprimand, which they can pass on to the teacher, but I can't see this as grounds for firing anyone.

But I can well understand not accepting Word: There are so many incompatible file formats for different versions of Word that you can't be sure to read the files. If you allow Word files, you will surely get .docx files, which requires the newest version of Word to read, and you can't expect all examiners to own this.

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n

er.......

the clue to the file format was obviously in the company name:

ed excel (short for education by excel spreadsheet)

The funny thing is the markers don't even bother to open the coursework, it's more efficient to post out the qualification certificates and those intelligent enough to 1. open the envelope and 2. read what it says, have automatically passed.

Some say the education system is dumbing down...That's why articles like this one are so useful :)

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Coat

Train as you mean to play

Honestly Tim

You are so unreasonable.

What relevance has deciphering a load of bureaucratic, poorly written instructions got to do with the modern shiny world of IT? We need to train our people to live in the real world, where software does what it is supposed to do and customers never reject bids because they didn't like the font we used.

Mine is the one from the 1960's film ...

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Coat

Makes sense...

Tim appears to be right. From the link he posted,

"Students will present their work in an electronic portfolio (ePortfolio). They will need to understand the difference between document creation and document publication and to distinguish between file formats appropriate for document creation and read-only file formats appropriate for viewing. Students will be expected to present ePortfolio content in a format appropriate for viewing at a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels."

It makes sense that failing to submit a read-only file format meant that the students had not grasped the concept of 'document publication' in the first place, hence deserved to fail their 'digital applications' module. It is no different to failing a music exam because you wrote a composition using do reh mi etc rather than a proper music notation scale, failing an engineering lab report because you neglected to explicitly show your section headers ( happened to me a few years ago, still smarting from that ) , or failing a maths exam because you insisted on using base 27 when the questions are given in decimal format. Tough luck, but understandable for a module related to computing.

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Anonymous Coward

Source of the files

The place to look for the specification is here: http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/toolkit

As far as I can recall we were told that moderators were intially not allowed to use Word due to the risk of a virus.

I did raise the issue about using Open Source software (such as OpenOffice, the GIMP, Inkscape and so on), but never received a direct answer.

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Stop

File formats?

When I was a lad, not only were official theses and dissertations required to be submitted in hard copy, on acid-free paper, but with very specific margin requirements as well. If a single page had a map, chart, or diagram that exceeded the margin, the entire paper was rejected. On the other hand, if you cut it down to fit the margin, it would be accepted, even if the "edit" rendered it into complete nonsense. I.e. they didn't give a flying fsck about the content, as long as it fit into their mold. I would expect no different from any accredited educational institution, on either side of the pond.

It doesn't matter what their teacher told them. They are responsible for knowing the requirements and following them.

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Joe
Happy

I think you should all apologise to Tim Parker...

...and I want your submissions as REM statements saved on audio cassette from a ZX81.

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Silver badge

Did the students read the exam paper?

Did the exam paper say something like,

Please submit your answer in "XYZ" format?

And the students just choose to follow the teachers suggestion instead?

Rule 1 of doing exams.

Read the damn question!

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From what I can remember...

...when I was forced to do the (pitifully undemanding) "AiDA" coursework, it was made very clear in the Edexcel instructions that everything had to be submitted as a PDF or as an HTML file.

Students are fools. Teacher's even worse.

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"why it won't accept Word,"

Because it's crap

Because it's proprietary

Because it's closed

Because it's ridiculously expensive

Because it would force a crappy, closed, proprietary and expensive piece of software on the correctors.

Because .doc is not one but a dozen different (and not fully compatible) formats, not to mention .docx.

Because it has never been intended to be a printout format.

Because they run the school, so they decide which format they accept or not.

Choose your reason, they're all good.

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Aarrgghh!! Not DiDA!!!

I briefly taught DiDA, before realising almost any other career could offer greater job satisfaction.

Each Unit of AiDA / CiDA / DiDA is worth one GCSE.

One Unit = AiDA (Award in Digital Applications for IT Users)

Two Units = CiDA (Certificate ~)

Four Units = DiDA (Diploma ~)

Work is not printed, but supplied in the form of an e-portfolio (i.e. offline website).

2/3 of the time spent on each Unit is supposed to be ramming home the skills needed to complete the SPB (Summative Project Brief - i.e. the project). When the pupils work on the SPB, they're supposed to do so relatively independently, with the teacher acting purely as line manager. Any guidance the teacher gives them whilst working on the project is supposed to be reflected in the marks awarded.

Oh, and the pupils are supposed to maintain an accurate project plan, updating it whenever their schedule changes.

And, even better, record all sources used (e.g. the actual image URL, not images.google.com which inevitably clogs up the majority of pupils' sources tables!) - and how they have sought permission from copyright holders if they've ignored EdExcel's advice to only use public domain stuff...

Everyone has to start off with Unit 1: Using ICT, which predictably enough focusses heavily on spreadsheets and databases. Really motivating stuff - not!

Evidently this batch of pupils weren't introduced to the DiDA website - where, in addition to the SPBs themselves, there are also prominent links to the "Moderator's Toolkit" - i.e. the acceptable file formats. Bizarrely, they'll accept almost every MS Office file format apart from .doc - and have IE and FF listed as web browsers...

Moderator's Toolkit: http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/toolkit/

SPBs: http://dida.edexcel.org.uk/home/spb/

The SPB themes are a misguided attempt to appeal to the majority of children:

Sep 06: Five a Day (as if they're not already getting enough of that in Food Technology!)

Sep 07: Preparing publications for a charity dance marathon

Sep 08: Preparing publications to assist foreign exchange students

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Same happened at my school...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/7770850.stm

This has also happened at the school I go to(see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/7770850.stm) - most of the 190 students who took the course failed it.

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A fully deserved FAIL

If I took an English paper and answered every question in Spanish, I would FAIL.

If the work is not submitted in the prescribed format, then you FAIL.

This is not the fault of the exam board and is entirely the fault of the school. It's utterly retarded to suggest that they "should just accept the work" - the format was specified and the information freely available and yet it was ignored.

As for those wondering about why they would need extra tuition, if the teacher was too thick to get them to do their work in the correct format, then there's no telling what else he might have taught them incorrectly.

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Compatibility Pack

But their website does list them MS Office compatibility pack as being installed on the moderators PCs. Therefore would it not be reasonable to suppose that this suggests the MS Office must be installed and office documents can be read?

EdExcel have a pretty poor reputation at the best of times and I feel that they may be pushing their luck with this.

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By Implication

if you install the Compatibility Pack, you need to have an office product, so you can read doc files?

see below

By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007. The Compatibility Pack can also be used in conjunction with the Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003, Excel Viewer 2003, and PowerPoint Viewer 2003 to view files saved in these new formats. For more information about the Compatibility Pack, see Knowledge Base article 924074.

Note: If you use Microsoft Word 2000 or Microsoft Word 2002 to read or write documents containing complex scripts, please see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/925451 for information to enable Word 2007 documents to be displayed correctly in your version of Word.

Administrators: The administrative template for the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint converters contained within the Compatibility Pack is available for download.

Update: The Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack Service Pack 1 (SP1) is available here.

Top of page

System Requirements

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; Windows Server 2003; Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 1; Windows XP Service Pack 2

Recommended Microsoft Office programs:

Microsoft Word 2000 with Service Pack 3, Microsoft Excel 2000 with Service Pack 3, and Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 with Service Pack 3

Microsoft Word 2002 with Service Pack 3, Microsoft Excel 2002 with Service Pack 3, and Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 with Service Pack 3

Microsoft Office Word 2003 with at least Service Pack 1, Microsoft Office Excel 2003 with at least Service Pack 1, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 with at least Service Pack 1

Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003

Microsoft Office Excel Viewer 2003

Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer 2003

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Consistency?

While it's quite right that the teachers should have RTFM, at the same time edexcel accept excel spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations. Surely the .doc format is as much of a standard format as these; plus, if you can read any of these formats you're equally likely to be able to read the others. Seems to me that edexcel are being pointlessly, and inconsistently, nit-picky.

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PDF

According to the link, they accept PDF. It is pretty reasonable to ask this, as PDF isn't easy to alter, and you can always use a digital signature with that as well, to make the whole thing tamper-proof.

Anyone thinking that .doc is "teh standard" (or should be) is deluded in thinking that every single business uses MS Office, or even Windows. The only file format I know of being truly multi-platform is PDF, or maybe LaTeX.

That said, Edexcel should've let them resubmit in PDF, though.

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And I'll bet they call it

ICT

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Stop

What.....

What the fuck... How can these morons justify rejecting a whole bunch of exams.

I could understand having the school resubmit them but to reject the entire batch is just crazy.

This teacher should be fired immediately for being some kind of retard.

I know most teachers just read notes from a book most of the time without even needing to think but this just takes the piss !

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Joke

Joe

More likely they want it in punched paper tapes

EIA coding only ISO coded paper tapes will be rejected

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Anonymous Coward

@Train as you mean to play

"We need to train our people to live in the real world, where software does what it is supposed to do and customers never reject bids because they didn't like the font we used."

Actually, if you ever get involved in submitting a bid or proposal to a customer electronically you'll find that most times the customer will specify one or a small number of formats (sometimes including fonts) to be used - bids not in the correct format will be normally be rejected.

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Anonymous Coward

Read/Write

Maybe the problem is that- its difficult to make a Word file read-only, and they dont want accused of editing a students tetx.

just a thought

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Coat

Ah, it seems

the teachers have a Java Runtime Exception. So how about just giving them a .jar file with .doc in it... not as if IT "teachers" would know how to open one of those...

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Very fond of the web at Edexcel...

Note that they aren't actually any text formats on Edexecel lists, with the nearest thing being html.

So there are no accepted formats designed for print display.

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As an Applied ICT A-Level student

I can't say I'm surprised. Whatever the truth is (the kids were failed because their work was rubbish/it was the wrong format/the examiners are lazy) the way 'IT' is taught in schools is awful. Edexcel's IT course papers are verging on the impossible to decipher, or are so vague that you feel you could get marks by doing anything at all.

Then there's the course content...Databases (MS Access) Spreadsheets (MS Excel) and naff 'eportfolios' made in Dreamweaver. The multimedia unit would be ok if I had actually been given any experience in using Flash beforehand.

</rant>

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xjy
Paris Hilton

That'll teach the little bastards heheh

Hoody glue-sniffing losers the lot of em. Bundle em up n chuck em in the canal along with those bastard wrinklies doing fuck-all and getting paid for it with our tax-money. Edexcel is doing a great job keeping the smelly fucks out of our jobs in this day n age.

And Back in the Days has the nerve to ask how a teacher can lose 20 exercise books. Har bloody har... 20 books is nothing. We used to chew up 200 exercise books with our morning milk but christ knows why we ever got that in the first place..... In my days we had classes of 100 snotty-nosed brats and our teachers used to lose our books regularly cos they couldn't be arsed marking em. 20 piffling exercise books!

(Paris cos she's a bit of all right)

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xjy
Paris Hilton

OMG

shit i forgot to submit my comment in Word....

(Paris cos she's into (geddit??) universal formats... )

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wsm

Another example of...

It's not the technology we struggle with, it's the users, or, more likely, the management of same.

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What about DOCX?

If you look at the Edexcel list of allowed file formats, you'll see "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack" listed. This free download allows users of Office 2003 to work with Office 2007 XML (DOCX, PPTX, XLSX, etcx.) files. If any of the "failed" students isn't allowed to re-submit their documents without penalty, I'd say they have a good case because of this item on the list.

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This'll learn them

Students should submit the work in as many different file formats as possible. The work will not be marked. Marks will be awarded per file format submitted.

[Obviously somebody will have to open the files to ensure no white JPG squares, pr0n, or other cheats. However, that task (and that of totalling the marks) should be well within the capabilities of the exam board's sub-contractors.]

Submissions in SGML will be awarded top marks automatically. [If you don't know why, your IT education is lacking.] Students submitting their own DTDs will qualify for admission on HE IT courses automatically.

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Flame

MS Office Compatibility Pack???

One of those Edexel links goes here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

which is none other than:

Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

Soooooo, much as I dislike MS, I would think that the teacher was correct in allowing the class to use MS Word!

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Happy

Bluff calling...

"...and I want your submissions as REM statements saved on audio cassette from a ZX81.."

Yup. I can do that. Where should I post it?

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Alert

RE:Word

Im sorry but in these days what person does not have a copy of word!!!! or at least open office.

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