Showing posts with label Open Source Software. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Open Source Software. Show all posts

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Open Source Software Explained by @CommonCraft

Open source software powers many of things that we see and do on the Internet and on our computers every day. In fact, if you're reading this on an Android device right now, you can thank the people who have contributed to the open source code making that happen. What is open source software? How is it supported? Why would someone open source a project? Those questions and more are answered in the latest video from Common Craft that I have embedded below.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Build a Message Board With Open Source Forum Software from Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums is free, open source software that anyone can use to host an online message board community. As you might imagine message boards powered by Vanilla allow your users to create member profiles, give you administrative control, and the ability to create sub-forums. Vanilla Forums software can be downloaded and installed on your own server(s) or you can use one of the paid hosting packages offered by Vanilla.

Applications for Education
If you have someone in your school that can install Vanilla Forums on a server, Vanilla could be a good way to build a school message board. You could also explore the hosting packages offered by Vanilla to see if they suit your needs.

Other options for hosting message boards to use in your school include Google Groups, Google+ Communities (if everyone is over 13), or Buddy Press (open source and you have to host it).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Booktype - Open Source Digital Publishing

Booktype is an open source program for creating ebooks and preparing them for distribution on Kindle and iBooks. Booktype is designed for collaborative use by a group of writers. You can update your books and redistribute them even after your initial publishing date.

Booktype, the open source publishing platform. from Sourcefabric on Vimeo.

To clarify, Booktype is not a service it's an open source program that you can download and install on your own server. If you have the skills to manage it, Booktype could be a good in-house solution for digital publishing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Qimo for Kids is Ubuntu for Kids

This morning in my Twitter stream I saw a link to Qimo for Kids. Not knowing what Qimo for Kids is, I had to take a look. This is what I found out, Qimo for Kids is a Linux Ubuntu-based operating system designed for use by kids as young as three years old. The system's primary features appear to be an intuitive interface and pre-loaded educational games. I have not had an opportunity to install Qimo for Kids and I would love to hear comments from people who have installed it and tried it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Google Summer of Code - Apply Now

Google Summer of Code looks like an awesome summer learning experience for college students. The program brings students together with mentors to develop open source code for a variety of projects. The Summer of Code is open to any current student over the age of 18. You can read the full details of program here. Applications are due by April 3.

The video below provides an overview of the program.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Open Source Living

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I'm a big proponent of open source software. For almost every piece of proprietary software on the market there is an open source alternative that will accomplish the same tasks for free. Many open source software applications are available for Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. Cross platform usability is important for schools that use more than operating systems on their student computers.

Open Source Living is a great resource for locating open source alternatives to proprietary software. Open Source Living is categorized by software function (Documents, Audio, Business Management, etc) and each program has a review section in which readers can submit their reviews and vote on the quality of each program.

If you're looking for an open source alternative to your expensive proprietary software, check out Open Source Living, you might be surprised by how many open source programs exist.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Proprietary Program Alternatives

Thanks to Mark Spahr for the link to a great list of the Top 50 Proprietary Programs and Their Open Source Alternatives. The list was originally published by Jimmy Atkinson on Web Hosting Database. If you're looking for something to replace an expensive proprietary program check out the list by clicking here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Free eBooks at Planet eBook

Planet eBook is a free service where teachers and students can find classic literature titles available as free downloads. Planet eBook adds new titles at regular intervals. Subscribe to the Planet eBook blog or newsletter to keep track of the latest additions to the collection. For browsing purposes, Planet eBook offers previews of titles through the Issuu pdf publishing service. Using the previews students can get an overview of a title without committing to downloading the entire ebook.

Applications for Education
I'm always preaching the cost-saving benefits of open source software and the same concept applies to free ebooks. Free ebook downloads can save school districts money when compared to the cost of buying novels. If you or your school is concerned about changing to a completely ebook based system, try phasing in ebooks as old novels and textbooks get worn out by students.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Making Open Office Better

Open Office and its Mac equivalent, Neo Office, are great examples of open source software that can save schools a lot of money. In some cases licensing fees can be the equivalent of a teacher's salary. Open Office and Neo Office can do the very same things that name brand proprietary word processing software do. In some cases students and teachers might notice some differences. To address these differences head over the the Open Office Extension Page.

On the Open Office Extension Page you will find numerous features to add to and enhance Open Office. If you've never looked at the Open Office Extension Page, I encourage you to explore it. You might be surprised at the many things Open Office can do that you may have never heard of or thought of before. Did you know that there is a flashcard extension for Open Office? The flashcard extension is easy to install and is a powerful tool for students to use as a study tool.

Applications for Education
The Open Office Extension Library is a great resource for schools that are using Open Office. The extensions can make your's and your students' experiences with Open Office even better. If you're trying to convince your school to switch to Open Office show them the extensions page and all of the things they can do for free with Open Office.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Pencil - Simple Drawing Software

Pencil is a simple, open source, drawing and animation program. Pencil works on Mac, Windows, Linux operating systems. Pencil is easy to learn and easy to use making it a great way to introduce younger students to drawing and animating with a computer. Pencil has a great message board where users can share information or ask questions about Pencil.

Applications for Education
In addition to being useful software for art teachers, Pencil can be used by teachers in other academic areas. Using Pencil students can create animated comic strips to illustrate stories
written for a writing class. Students could use Pencil to illustrate a timeline for a history class.

Here is an example of work that can be done with Pencil.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: AbiWord - Why Didn't I Use This Earlier?

I do know why I didn't use AbiWord earlier, sometimes I can be a stick in the mud. AbiWord is a light and fast open source word processing program. AbiWord does word processing and word processing only which allows it to run faster with fewer hiccups than Neo Office or Open Office (I'm a die hard user of both). Neo Office and Open Office also do word processing but they take a long time to launch because of all of the other programs included in the Neo Office suite. I have been slow to switch to AbiWord because I didn't want to install a program that couldn't also create spreadsheets or presentations.

This weekend I was convinced to give AbiWord another try. The convincing argument was, "you don't need to have a presentation tool installed because the best presentation tools are online." The argument made sense when I considered that I can count on one hand the number of times I've used Neo Office Presentation or Key Note in the last year and I make a lot of presentations. All Neo Office is doing if I install Abiword is taking up space and speed. So tonight I'm taking the plunge and uninstalling Neo Office on one of my laptops. AbiWord, here I come!

Here's a short list of AbiWord's features.
1. works on Mac, PC, and Linux.
2. has all of the reading capabilities of Open Office/ Neo Office.
3. layout and formatting options are very similar to MS and Open Office.
4. plug-in options allow for use on older machines.

Applications for Education
AbiWord, like all open source software, saves schools money. Districts do not have to pay licensing fees to use AbiWord. For those of you unaware of how much licensing fees cost consider this, some school districts do not pay their new teachers as much as they pay Microsoft in licensing fees.

Free Technology For Teachers: FOSS VT Summary

As most readers know, I spent Friday at the Free and Open Source Software for Education conference in Vermont (FOSS VT). I Twittered a number of observations throughout the morning and afternoon session until the Internet connection got bogged down with too much traffic. You can read my Twitter stream from the conference here. I attended three presentations at FOSS VT, all three of them were valuable to classroom teachers and technology integrators. FOSS VT also had a number of presentations designed for systems managers which I did not attend, but I did hear great things at lunch about those presentations.

Three great tips shared at FOSS VT about getting teachers to try new technology.
1. "Avoid the trumpet." If you make a big presentation or loud announcement to your entire staff that you're implementing something new, you're going to meet resistance. Instead of making a major announcement, quietly implement a change, the average teacher will not notice unless you tell them. This is especially true when switching from Windows to Linux terminals.

2. If you have new software/ new computers/ new web application that you want teachers to use, don't offer it up until you can actually provide it. Making an offer of something new might get some people excited to try new technologies, but if they have to wait two months to get their hands on it you'll have lost most of the initial excitement and momentum.

3. Let teachers know that the students can help. Today's students are digital natives and fearless when it comes to technology. They are not afraid to push a button just to see what it does. Create a student technology ambassador team to help teachers learn new technology. Your student technology ambassadors could be a club activity or part of a technology class.

There is going to be a multi-day FOSS conference in Maine at the end of June. If you're interested in learning more about it visit the FOSSED website. If the multi-day event is as good as the one day event, it will definitely be worth your time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: FOSS VT Tomorrow

I will be at the FOSS conference in Fairlee, Vermont tomorrow. I'm plan to Twitter throughout the day. Take a look here at the schedule for the day. If you see anything that you'd like me to report back on, please let me know through a comment, Twitter, or email and I'll do my best to check it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Multiplication Station

Multiplication Station is an open-source program compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. Multiplication Station is designed to help students practice multiplication, division, subtraction, and addition. The game is designed for elementary school students. The latest version of Multiplication Station has been revised to make it easier and faster for students and teachers to get started using the software.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: FOSSVT - FOSS Vermont

FOSSVT- Free and Open Source Software- Vermont
If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've probably noticed that I love anything free whether it's software or coffee as long as it's free, I'll try it. There is a conference in Vermont on April 4 all about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in education. The conference is not free (kind of ironic, I think), but I'm attending anyway and hoping to discover and learn about some new things that are free. If you're in New England or New York and would like to attend or learn more about FOSSVT, check it out here.
If you are going I'd love to meet up with some other members of the education blog-o-sphere so drop me line via comment or email at

Free Technology For Teachers: Open Standards

Federal Computer Week published a report last week about the Navy's move toward open standards in its information technology operations. FCW quotes Vice Admiral Mark Edwards as saying, "The days of proprietary technology must come to an end." One of the motivations for moving toward open standards is to cut costs in operating information technology. Read the rest of the article here.

Applications for Education
The Navy is moving toward open standards as a cost cutting measure. Schools should also look at open standards and open software as a cost cutting measure. In an education environment, using open standards and open software can increase the amount of money spent on hardware without increasing the technology budget. Proprietary programs while often more common and familiar to the average end user, are costly and in some cases limiting. Using open source programs increases budget flexibility allowing schools to invest in improving hardware and networks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Benefits of Open Source Software

This week I have had a number discussions with various colleagues and administrators about technology budgets. It was apparent in those conversations that Open-Source software is being overlooked. Open Source software has a lot of benefits for schools, the biggest benefit being that Open Source programs are free. By using free software and web-applications schools can have more money to spend on technology issues teachers really care about. The most common complaint about or excuse for not using technology I hear from teachers is, about inadequate or and or outdated computer hardware. Use the money saved on software to invest in improving computer hardware and networks.

The other benefit of Open Source software that I share with colleagues is the benefit of teaching students to use software applications in a variety of situations. For example, I taught my Social Studies students how to create a wiki with an open source program now those students are creating a wiki as part of project in a science course. The knowledge of how to use software crosses content area lines. The skills my students learn using open source software in Social Studies is a skill that they can take with them after graduation. That said, I'm not completely against proprietary software, but I do think that those making budget decisions should investigate free alternatives before purchasing software.

To read more about Open Source software click here.

This humorous video shares another benefit of open source software.

Open Source and Proprietary Software Spoof Ad 2 from rkalajian on Vimeo.