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Today I want to focus on the KDE Education Project or KDE-Edu. As you may know, KDE (K Desktop Environment) is an open source graphical interface for UNIX-based operating systems like Linux. KDE-Edu is a project started by the people at KDE with the intention of developing educational open source software for all ages, both learners and teachers.
The software that they produce addresses language arts, mathematics, science and social studies as well as other areas of learning, such as computer programming and occupational therapy. Language arts appplications range from KHangman, a variation of the popular word game to KWordQuiz, a vovabulary builder, to Parley, a powerful vocabulary assessment tool. Mathematics applications range from KBruch, a tool for quizzing users about fractions and facotrizations to applications addressing more advanced topics, such as KAlgebra for graphing algebraic expressions and Kig, an interactive geometry tool.
In terms of science software, KDE Edu has some interesting offerings. These include, but are not limited to, an interactive periodic table of the elements, Kalzium, a virtual planetarium for your computer desktop, KStars and Step, an application that allows users to create virtual two-dinmensional physical science experiments. If you’re looking for social studies applications, check out Marble, a virtual globe that allows users to view Earth from various perspectives including geographical, historical and climate or KGeography, an application that quizzes users on their geographical knowledge including locations, capitol cities and flags.
Other applications include KTurtle, a program teaching beginning computer programming, KTouch, a typing/keyboarding tutor and KLettres, a tool for teaching younger students how to write their letters.
I cannot do KDE-Edu justice in this short space. There are more applications available than I have discuessed here. I urge you to check them out. They’re open source, free and will soon (as of this writing) be available for Microsoft Windows.
Marble is an open source virtual globe for your computer. I’ve written about Marble before, but it’s been awhile so I thought I’d revisit this application and share some of the features that have been introduced. Marble offers a variety of ways in which to view the Earth, including, but not limited to a geoographical map, precipitation, a street map and satelite view. There are many other maps that are availiable as add-ons, including globes of the planets and moons, historical globes from a variety of eras, a hike and bike map, public transportation maps and several maps created by MapQuest. In addition to all of this, Marble can be readily customized via its menus. Marble is part of the KDE Education Project and runs on Linux, Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS.
GIMP is a very powerful, feature-rich and versatile image creation and editing tool. Better still, it’s open source. Users can do everything from simple photo enhancement to creating lively, eye-catching graphics. Among the tools built into GIMP are a wide variety of brushes, special effects for customization and support for layers. Web masters can even use GIMP to create image maps. In short, GIMP has every feature you would expect to find in a modern image editing application.
If you’re looking for a full-featured spreadsheet application that is light on system resources, you should take a look at Gnumeric. Gnumeric is an open source electronic spreadsheet program that is free, fast, light and stable. Users will find all of the tools one would expect to find in a spreadsheet -a sum tool, statistical analysis, cell formatting and graph/chart generation and insertion. These are just a few of the useful tools available. So check out Gnumeric and find your next spreadsheet application.
It’s summertime again (at least in the northern hemisphere). You’ll no doubt be taking lots of photos to cpature some memories. If you want a cutting-edge application to edit your photos, you need look no further than GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). GIMP is a powerful and versatile open source application for creating and editing images. GIMP is every bit as feature-rich as Adobe PhotoShop, but at none of the financial expense. So why pay big bucks to modify your summer photos, when a viable alternative is so readily available?
It’s that time of year again. Time for school districts to start putting their budgets together for the next fiscal year. As we’re all aware, some wonderful innovations will end up on the fiscal chopping block. A Student Information System doesn’t need to be one of them. Student Information Systems (SIS) allow school districts and their faculty and staff to store student information in a place where it can be readily accessed by other faculty and staff, students and even students’ parents or guardians. This space is on a Web server. Student Information Systems can track such information as schedules, academic performance, parent contact information and interventions. So why do I say that something that sounds so expensive doesn’t need to be cut from the budget? The answer is SchoolTool. SchoolTool is a full-featured, open source Student Information System. With SchoolTool, your district can have ready access to student information usually only possible with expensive proprietary software.
Sometimes fgures speek louder than words.
People who homeschool will love the vast amount of educational technology resources available as open source. Homeschooled students will have access to software that can enhance learning in all areas of the curriculum. There are also applications for multimedia, productivity and even Bible studies. There’s so much useful software that I can’t do it justice here. Check out Energize Education through Open Source, available through Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble, to learn more.
I’m going to take a break from discussing open source educational software and take a look at something fun. Some of you may fondly reminesce about games that ran in DOS, such as DOOM or Heretic. The good news is that you can run these games again in DOSBox. DOSBox is an open source DOS emulator that allows you to run your favorite DOS games. All you need are the original game files and you’re ready to go (these can be found online, so you won’t need a time machine). DOSBox is available for Linux, Microsoft Windows and MacOS.