Open Source Software that every classroom should have


This year many around the world will experience the very first ‘Open Education Week’ from March 5th till March 10th. The purpose is to ‘raise awareness on the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.’

‘Open education is about sharing, reducing barriers and increasing access in education’ according to their website.  To celebrate Open Education Week (OEW) Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Institute have launched the ‘Why Open Education Matters Video Competition’. According to the website ‘The competition will award cash prizes, provided by the Open Society Institute, of up to $25,000 for the best short videos that explain the use and promise of free, high-quality open educational resources and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students and schools.“

 

I encourage all to visit the above-mentioned sites to understand participate in the competition and raise further awareness about Open Source and Open Education. At Hayah International Academy we are trying to do our bit by introducing Open Source Software to our community.  Also hopefully working towards Open Education content where content designed by our teachers will become available to our local and international community for free.

 

In the above spirit and to help kick start your interest in FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) here are my tools that every school should have in their classrooms if they want to go Open.

 

Open Office 3

One of the leading Open Source office suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases. If you have used the Microsoft Office 2003 version then using the Open Office 3 will be a doddle. It does what Microsoft Office 2003 can but for free.

Source: www.openoffice.org

 

GIMP

Photo editing software that can be used for simple retouching to expert editing. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. In education it is a very good replacement for Adobe Photoshop.

Source: www.gimp.org

 

Picasa

Photo editing, sharing and organiser software. A very useful tool to organize your pictures locally and then synchronize them on the web for further back up and sharing using Picasa Web.

Source: www.picasa.google.co.uk

 

Free Mind

Mind mapping software written in Java and easily downloadable and installed on your PC. A versatile and responsive software for quick and easy mind mapping.

Source: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

 

Scribus

Powerful Desk-Top Publishing software to rival the likes of Microsoft Publisher. Creates documents in PDF and RIP, which can be very handy if you plan to publish your work to a high standard. Create newsletters, flyers, posters, business cards and much more.

Source: www.scribus.net

 

NVU

Prides itself to be the number one free web-authoring tool. Nvu (pronounced “n-view”) allows you to build webpages using a very simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. Its aim is to offer a free tool to rival the likes of Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft’s Expression Web.

Source: http://net2.com/nvu

 

Scratch

A programming language software that allows you to create your own interactive stories, animations, games and much more. Once created you can share them online on the scratch website. There are over 2 million projects currently online for you to play with or improve.

Source: http://scratch.mit.edu

 

Audacity

A great software for recording and editing sounds. A fantastic tool for creating original podcasts. Available for Windows, Apple and Linux platforms with many plug-ins to enhance your experience.

Source: http://audacity.sourceforge.net

 

All of the above mentioned software’s are free to use and distribute. The above list of software is for the classroom, although there are many other free open source software for content management, library management, data management and the like.  The aim of FLOSS is to rival the propriety software that charges a lot of money for something that should be available for free for all. I believe using the above software will build the same set of skills, knowledge and understanding as any propriety software.

Just as we did at Hayah I would recommend at first introducing FLOSS side-by-side propriety software and slowly phasing out propriety software as and when needed. Our aim at Hayah is for the ICT department to be fully ‘Open’ by the end of academic year 2013. Watch this space.

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