Lucidpress: A Free Alternative to MS Publisher

Lucidpress: A Free Alternative to MS Publisher

Meet Common Core Standards with this totally free application!

I teach a high school desktop publishing class which includes page layout and design. Without a doubt, Lucidpress - Layout and Design is the best web-based desktop publishing application I have found.

And believe me, since the closure of the online Aviary Creative Suite, I have searched to the end of cyberspace.

My biggest problem was that I wanted an online application that would work on our java-less Chromebooks. The best I found at the time was Lucidchart. It was adequate for creating print media. Lucid Software then released Lucidpress in October, 2013. I was thrilled! Techcrunch featured Lucidpress in a posting on October 2, 2013.

At our small high school in East Dubuque, IL (200 students in 9-12), we decided to stop spending money on the industry-standard software we had been teaching, such as Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. The software is not only expensive, but requires upgrades every few years to remain current, which led to installing software on all our computers each time we upgraded. We were still using Microsoft Office 2003 when Office 2010 was released! At our small school with a one-man technology department, upgrading required just too much money and time. We decided to go with free applications such as Google Drive (we are now a GAFE school) and other online browser-based software. And why not? The same concepts can be taught to students with the free applications!

Lucidpress includes over 70 templates for creating both print and digital newsletters, brochures, flyers, pamphlets, photo and video books, invitations, and more. It is a perfect application for meeting several English-Language Arts (ELA) Common Core standards, especially CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6:  "Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others."  Lucidpress provides students with the opportunity to learn many other Common Core/21st Century skills such as creative expression, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, information literacy, and self-direction in a fun and engaging environment. It can be an excellent tool for cross-disciplinary collaborative projects.

LucidPress integrates with Google Drive and is available for Google Chrome in the Chrome Web Store. I especially like the collaboration features, which allow me to create a "team" (class) of all my students, and even teams within a class. Their projects are shared with me, and on my computer I can watch them work in real time! They can also work together on shared documents, which can be published to the Lucidpress site or embedded in a blog or other website. Of course, the projects can also be printed. One of our group projects, which pitted two teams against each other in the style of the TV reality show Celebrity Apprentice, required students to collaborate on collateral materials for a fictional water park. They were able to team up to design a logo, brochure, business card, coupon, billboard, grand opening ad, visitor pass, and more. With Lucidpress, your class could also collaborate on projects with students in some other class or even at another school.

The learning curve for Lucidpress is extremely low, especially if students have used other desktop publishing software. I have found the technical support to be outstanding. My emails are answered promptly, and I’ve also had telephone conversations with members of the small and personable team at Lucidpress. Their support for education is outstanding, and they tell me Lucidpress will always be free for educational purposes. If you are a Google Apps for Education school, Lucidpress can be added to your managed applications, making log-ins through Google Drive a simple task. Check out Lucidpress for your classes. You won’t be sorry.

About the Author
Author: Brian McLaneWebsite:
I have been a high school teacher for 33 years and an ed-tech enthusiast/user/trainer for at least half of them. I am retiring after the 2014-2015 school year, and I want to work as an ed-tech presenter.

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