Monday, July 24, 2006

A Second Look at Open Source


I admit, I have been a bit of a snob about open source software. I never really saw that it would be relevant to me or my district. If figured it was for places that were looking to outfit a large number of students with computers and had little money left for software. And I thought open source software was for places that were building computers, as opposed to buying them from Dell or Apple or whoever. I didn't even think they would work on Macs or Dells. I also assumed (and we know what happens when you do THAT!) open source software (oss) was very limited. Boy was I wrong.

I began to think about all the free web tools and software I have downloaded for my personal use. Why do I download this free software? Because it works. And why should I pay for something when I can get something just as good (or better) for free? (AOL mail vs hotmail, gmail, yahoomail, etc, or Moodle - lots of buzz about this) There are also times when a free download is the only way to get something (Writely is sooo cool) -- count me in! I am a dedicated Mac gal through and through, but I dabble with PCs when I must, so obviously a "frankenstein" computer is not needed for oss.

And today I read a blog post that stated there are over 1500 oss titles with more being added everyday. Incredible. As I watched a TILT (Teachers Improving Learning with Technology) video of ThinkFree Office Online (their version of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) I became a convert. Documents created with ThinkFree are even compatible with Word! I can't wait to find more oss that I can use and download for use with my 1st-5th graders.

Watch this spot for links to my favorite open source/free sites.

Wallnotes
  • Like Stickies for Mac , but better. The ultimate organizing, to-do tool.
Imagewell
  • Allows you to resize images and apply some effects, like shapes or even text. Drag and drop interface. I love it! So much easier than PhotoShop or Graphics Converter.

Firefox
  • What's not to like about this browser?: tabbed browsing, auto-updates, lots of add-ons and themes. A great alternative to IE for Mac users and imo, far superior to Safari,

  • a word processing, presentation program, and spreadsheet/graph program, compatible withMicrosoftt Office Suite
Project Cam
  • • an application to facilitate videoconferencing, allows 2 "participant" screens, audio, and a text message area, you supply the web cams, from Cable in the Classroom
Thanks for Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklastch for these 3:

LEGO Digital Designer 1.6
  • a free virtual building system available for both the Windows and Mac OSX platform
Google SketchUp
  • a powerful 3-D modeling program avaiable for Windows 2000 and better and Mac OS10.3.9 and better; can be used in conjunction with Google Earth or on its own
TuxPaint
  • an easy-to-use drawing program available for Windows and Mac OSX

1 comment:

TeachTeach said...

I've just been looking at ThinkFree myself, which appears to have some great possibilities.

A couple of other free things I've found and love:

Gimp--Gimp has a lot of the editing features found in Photoshop but for a much better price. You have to be intrepid though--it's not the most intuitive software around.

Flock--By far the best browser I've ever used. It's based on Firefox, but has great integrated features such as a newsreader, del.icio.us tagging of bookmarks, Flickr integration, blog posting, and more. Also, lots of Firefox extensions work with it as well.