"...one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools."
It's from an article in today's USA Today entitled Low-cost laptop could transform learning. Nicholas Negroponte, from MIT, is responsible for the development of the $100 (now $150) laptop project.
The "condition" he speaks of is not limited to the developing world-- I see it on an almost daily basis in our technology-rich county-- and, sadly, I don't see it changing any time soon. Office tools are convenient and safe, and although they fulfill the purpose for which they were intended quite well, they should not be the only tools for students and teachers. Too many of the Web 2.0 tools are blocked, or software (like Microsoft's Photostory) isn't installed in either the computer labs or classroom computers. Students and teachers may be limited to a standard office suite of applications for creating their projects through no fault of their own.