Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Educational FLOSS Software

Session #1 of FOSSED 2008

Robert Sargent of Waits River Valley School District, Vermont is presenting on Free "Libre" Open Source Applications for the classroom. He is talking about assessing standards acquisition by using Open Source applications.

This following text in blue will be a real time interpretation of his presentation:
Best Teaching Practices Student-centered Project-oriented Constructivist/Constructionist
Differentiated Instruction
Cooperative Group Learning

Vermont has "Information Technology Grade Expectations" . But they have not been realigned with the new NETS from ISTE.
Digital Worksheet

Use a word processor document with URL's to scaffold an Internet-based activity.

(Save them as html so that with a web interface they can be posted to the web)

NVUE is an Open Source html editor. It is no longer being supported but, Komposer and FunnyMonkey are.

Designing a task for someone else to do. This is a metacognitive activity for kids. By 6th grade they should be able to create WebQuests.

WebQuest Gurus

Bernie Dodge

WebQuest 101

A WebQuest About WebQuests

Projects with Bit-Mapped Graphics (GIMP)

Bob's Art Teacher took portrait photos of each child. The photos were put into GIMP, and the kids posterized (reduce number of colors), put into grayscale, used a grid to transfer to paper, then the kids mixed a single color to paint their portrait in monochromatic.

An alternative to GIMP is KolourPaint. This has a bit simpler interface.

XnView is a free software package to view and convert graphic files. (You can resize photos individually or in a batch. This is good for student projects.)

OpenOffice comes with a Database. One project is to use a database to collate survey results. There is no charting in the database but there is in Calc (Spreadsheet). So just copy your database into Calc or spreadsheet.


This is an Open Source desktop publishing system. When you have a finished project, you can save it as pdf. But remember to save your original in case you need to go back and edit. This is a good product to use if a teacher is taking student work to create a finished product. Scribus is also helpful for creating brochures and fliers.


Audacity is a FOSS for a recording and editing sounds software. It can be used for podcasting, assessing speech, reading, vocal pitch, etc.


This is a suite of activities best suited for the Pre-K-3 gang. It's fun for the rest of us, too. :)


This is a model planetarium or star map that allows the user to enter in specific latitude/longitude information and the program shows a map of what can be seen from that spot on earth without a telescope.


This is a 3-D space simulator so students can travel in space and see the stars and planets from different perspectives.

FMS Logo

This version of Logo is aimed specifically at elementary schools. It is based on Seymour Papert's Logo. Kturtle is another Logo-based programming language designed for elementary school students.

Why Use Open Source?

4 kinds of Software Freedom-
The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1).
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

Access to the source code is a precondition for freedoms 1-3

Why use it?

It's free.
Everyone can have it.
Open source means you are free to change the code.
Open source uses a different model for support.
Students can participate in an open source project.

Open Source Victoria
is a catalog of FOSS that is specifically helpful for teachers and students.

It makes sense to integrate the classroom with Open Source Software.

Thanks Bob, for an informative morning!

Now, it's time for lunch and decision making. Will I go to the Scratch presentation this pm or to using Moodle for Professional Development? Darn it! FOSSED is an abundance of riches.

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