Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Open Source Apps for Schools

In this month's T.H.E. Journal, there is an article called "Opening A New Door." It's about how open source software can be used in schools. I'm not in a rush to replace all our Windows machines with Linux and Open Office, but there was a fantastic list of apps. that could be used in labs and on classroom computers. I found it so interesting, I'm reposting the list here. The ones in bold are the ones I plan on using in my own lab.

Blender: (Also in Ubuntu.) A 3-D computer animation program. Supports modeling, animation, rendering, and playback.
Celestia: A simulation program that allows students and teachers to navigate a 3-D solar system.
Dia: A drawing program along the lines of Microsoft's venerable Visio, but geared to more informal diagrams.
FreeMind: So-called mind-mapping software designed to allow teachers and students to brainstorm with diagrams that represent words, ideas, and tasks.
GIMP: The GNU (a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix") Image Manipulation Program, a photo editing program.
GIMPshop: A modification of GIMP, intended to replicate the feel of Adobe Photoshop.
iFolder: An online personal file backup program. Designed to update saved files on a network server automatically and deliver them to the user's other machines.
Inkscape: A vector graphics editor with capabilities similar to Adobe's Illustrator and FreeHand, CorelDraw, or Xara X.
Intelligent Teaching and Learning With Computers (iTALC): A tool for viewing and controlling other computers in a network, showing demos, sending text messages, and locking individual work stations.
Moodle: An extremely popular course organization tool/virtual learning environment. During a recent webcast sponsored by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a spokesperson from Indiana's Department of Education said that Moodle has been what is driving teachers to use technology in their classrooms.
The OpenScience Project: Software developed and maintained by a group of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to encourage a collaborative environment for exploration of the natural world.
Scribus: (Also in Ubuntu.) A popular desktop publishing program. Runs on Linux, Mac OS, OS/2, and Windows.
StarOffice: An enhanced version of OpenOffice from Sun Microsystems. Comes with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database capabilities.
Stellarium: A planetarium for the desktop. It shows a realistic sky in 3-D, and can be used with planetarium projectors.
Tux Paint: A preK-6 drawing program. Combines an easy-to-use interface, sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot.

Web page reference: http://www.thejournal.com/articles/21081_4
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