As usual I was reading planet TALO aka superuser network and read the post “Top Tools for Learning 2009” by Kerrie Smith.
It’s interesting to see that “educators” on the web are doing most of their computing using “Linux” and an “open source” web browser.
Lets look a bit closer at the top 10 software tools:
- Twitter – Linux
- del.icio.us – FreeBSD
- youtube – Linux
- google docs – Linux
- google reader – Linux
- wordpress – Linux
- slideshare – Linux
- google search – Linux
- Audacity – Free and Open Source
- Firefox – Free and Open Source
I know a secondary school student is more than capable of learning to build and run a web server but the way its taught in schools using IIS is really pathetic. The student doesn’t learn much and does it really empower them? No not all, it cripples them. I remember chatting to a young friend of mine about his early days in high school, he likes computers and studied ICT thinking it would be different in high school but it was the microsoft word training again, he told me he’d previously gone through the word training twice already in primary school. They are taught that pressing the “export as web-page” button is Web development so people should think about how much they can learn about word processing and word processor software on Ubuntu using open source software and compare it to what they learn and do now because obviously they aren’t learning anything useful about web development.
I don’t understand why there isn’t a government policy to have a preference for free and open source software yet or at least equity for students wanting to learn and use GNU/Linux. Imagine you work in a school as a computer/library assistant and there’s 40 or so pentium 3 computers in the store room and you want to use one to add a diskless web kiosk to the library, the computers are in the store room because they were replaced by newer computers with even bigger hard disks (the most expensive component?) and you wonder why they didn’t buy smaller cheaper hard disks if only 5gb of the 80Gb will ever be used, it would probably be worse these days.
Meanwhile the teachers are fighting for disk space on the server. Imagine asking a simple question; “May I use one of the computers in storage to add another computer to the library?”, obviously the first thing is the fact that those computers don’t work with the current version of windows, to cut a long story short if they’ve never heard of GNU/Linux then its likely they will reject the idea and sometimes give ridiculous reasons.
Its also a power issue, proprietary software users know all to well that you can gain power over people using software, its common in things like LMS’s and if you’re the guy who setup the school website then you can give people access to publish. There’s a lot of social politics involved in these things, whoever gets the better computer is not always the person who needs it.
Will the student wanting to use FOSS and GNU/Linux to learn about technology and software be allowed to do that in Australian schools? Choosing an operating system and software is part of the Information Technology Systems Syllabus, read the Sample assessment task 1. I wonder if the students have any rights or choice, perhaps it falls back to teacher preference.
If the general public knew about Ubuntu and the fact that unlimited copies are available for free, would they want a fair share of the systems running ubuntu in state funded education. Learning about technology shouldn’t be reduced to training kids to use proprietary products.
Most teachers Ive met say they’ve used “Linux” with their students but usually its just for a single day in the year.
So hows your favorite operating system do on the list of the top 500 supercomputers.
Mobilize This09 being held on Friday the 30th of October, brings together those pursuing the active use of mobile technologies and associated digital literacy in their daily lives, teaching and work related duties. The event will be held at Charles Darwin University, Australia – Google map, in the ‘Mal Nairn’ Auditorium. In attendance will be invited guests, Charles Darwin University staff and students and many registered community representatives.
The focus of this years events are on the showcasing of examples of where mobile related learning concepts interface with popular learning design. There will be ample opportunity for online participants to connect with physical activities happening.
As this has both interactive and broadcast free / live to air components to the program there is expected to be a large online audience also.
Please feel free to join in uStream and tell others about the Friday 30th event.
Visit Archive.org and download the Ogg video or Avi.
Download Making sculpted chair for secondlife files (191) - 621.52 kB , it contains the blend file, sculptmap and texture used in the tutorial.
All files and video released under CC-BY2.5-AU license.
Make sure you visit Teachers Without Borders space on Secondlife to check for upcoming events.
I wandered around Teachers Without Borders space on Secondlife and recorded a video of it that you can watch below or watch on youtube. You can also download it from internet archive.
Read more about Teachers Without Borders.
I hope Konrad Glogowski doesn’t mind quoting some of his email but heres part of what he told me about Teachers Without Borders and Secondlife.
The mission of Teachers Without Borders is to support teachers from around the world with professional development opportunities and tools that connect them with information and each other so that they may play more vital roles in their communities. We currently work with several governments and Ministries of Education around the world, including Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, and China just to name a few.
The goal of the SL presence is to provide a platform for teachers in industrialized nations to discuss teacher professional development as an important factor in international development, to help raise awareness of issues affecting teachers in developing nations, and to work towards increased empowerment and change.
The space will be used to host a discussion series open to all on some of the above topics. As a long-time jokaydian, I also hope to use this space to continue to contribute to the island’s growth and profile.
Konrad contacted me about making some furniture for that space and I’m really keen to contribute. I think perhaps he saw my sculpture and and work flow from my screenshots on flickr. Over the last few days I’ve been experimenting with chairs. To be continued…
The music I used in the video is “Confrontation, Le Gardien” by Grégoire Lourme.
GCompris is amazing, its fun and kids love it. Over the years I’ve distributed a lot of educational freedom respecting software and GCompris is popular. Lets look at some info from the GCompris Wikipedia article:
It is available for Linux, Mac OS X and other systems. Binaries compiled for Microsoft Windows version are distributed as crippleware with a restricted number of activities; it is possible to access all the activities in Windows for a fee.
GCompris has more than 100 activities related to:
* Computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gestures
* Algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror images
* Science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulations
* Geography: place the country on the map
* Games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku
* Reading: reading practice
* Other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing, cartoon making
The name GCompris is a French pun impossible to translate. It comes from the French “J’ai compris” [?e kompri], which is French for “I have understood”, and is pronounced the same way as the name of the program would be by a French speaker.
Another interesting thing is that it is translated in more than 40 languages, perhaps that should be added to the Wikipedia article. You can also read about GCompris in the media.
Here’s a short video on youtube that gives us a brief look at it. “Online Tutorial: GCompris Educational Software“.
I have fond memories of using GCompris with adults and children so make sure you check it out.
“The most essential resource of any society is not a physical resource, it’s a psycho-social resource. It’s the spirit of good will; the spirit of helping your neighbour.” — Richard Stallman
The UK’s Open Source Consortium has accused the Open University of breaching its founding principles. The Open University came about in the 1960′s as a move towards making university education available to all regardless of income or gender. Given the sort of forward thinking involved it is somewhat worrying that the OU has so far failed to support free software. If anything the OU seems to favour the proprietry software provided by Microsoft.
As reported by the Inquirer, the OU’s bias lies in the student technical support services:
It advises students that if they don’t use a Windows PC they “may have problems accessing the software and data files supplied with course materials”. It has produced a 31-page guide to using Microsoft software and also provides demonstrations. It has produced upgrade advice for Microsoft’s Vista operating system and even gone as far as promoting a Microsoft discount offer to its students.
The OU does distribute copies of the Open Source Star Office to all students, but that endorsement pales in comparison to its backing of Microsoft. It has given no such advice, support or endorsement of Ubuntu, the free operating system lauded as the Open Source movement’s viable alternative to Windows.
Its worrying that a student running a pc with open source software, on a limited income would have to basically scrap their set up and buy into microsoft in order to join the OU.
Neil Hirsig has developed an online course to offer students an introduction to the world of computer generated 3-D modeling and animation.
As an introductory course, it provides a basic understanding of the skills and techniques employed by 3-D designers in a wide range of applications. In this online course we will explore basic mesh modeling, applying textures and materials to 3-D objects, lighting, animation and rendering. This course should provide a good basis for further independent study in architectural, engineering and theatrical modeling and game design.
The sequence of Learning Units are a suggested path of learning Blender but you are welcome to use this material in any way that suits your purposes.
Anyone interested in participating can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris: An amazing thing about the resources on the site is copyright.
All material on this site may be freely distributed without restriction
MobilizeThis 2008 is being held next week, from the 22nd-24th Oct. It is a yearly event which provides a snapshot of a cross-sectorial range of contributions to discussion involving the practical and constructive use of ICT’s in the education and related industries.
This year it is being held at Charles Darwin University
The purpose of MobilizeThis 2008 is to bring educators, e-learning technologists, managers, tech-heads and cross-sector organisation representatives together in a program that fosters conversations, workshops and online experiences to inform practical examples of employing ICT’s in an open and global context.
Chris will be presenting this year his theme being; A Brief History of Free Software and Free Network Services, take a look at the website for further information on the scheduled events.