Winners in the Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009

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:

Many Flavours (cc) kobrasoft
Many Flavours (cc) kobrasoft



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.

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How to install Tux Paint stamps

I’ve talked about Tux Paint on this blog over the years and produced an informative and slightly humorous Tux Paint demonstration video back in 2006. The video has been downloaded 1,066 times from internet archive.org and viewed 31500 times not including the 14000 views from the version with low quality audio which Ive deleted.

The most common question I get asked is “how do I get the stamps?“. All of the people who have asked are on the windows platform, I believe this is probably because on Debian/Ubuntu systems the stamp packages are installed with Tux Paint. So rather than continue to reply to all the email and comments I decided to write this howto and perhaps someone will do the screencast version.

Getting Tux Paint stamps for windows and mac osx

The steps are the same, visit the Tux Paint website, chose your operating system then download and install the optional stamps package.

tuxpaint_website_dos_dl
Chose OS then download and install stamps

Some of the people that asked me about the stamps must have been too excited at the time they downloaded Tux Paint and didn’t notice the optional stamps package or perhaps they didn’t install Tux Paint. If you’re having trouble you might need to ask an adult for help, if that fails just go colour.

Tux Paint stamps on Ubuntu

Ubuntu software package managment
Ubuntu software package managment

On Ubuntu we have advanced packaging tools, software management programs and remote software package repositories. Pretty much all the software on my system has been installed this way, its easier and more user friendly then installing software on other systems and the amount of top quality software you can install is amazing. Using search its easy to find cool new programs, for example if you’re a social media guru you might search for twitter, facebook or blog software, if you need a web server running a wiki you might simply install mediawiki and enjoy watching all the system dependencies get met. The two programs I’ll mention are the Ubuntu Software Center and Synaptic.

Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center is new in Ubuntu 9.10, some people may not have upgraded so we will also look at Synaptic. Synaptic is usually installed on most versions of Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu Software Center is available from the Applications menu.

Ubuntu Software Center
Ubuntu Software Center

Simply use search, type tuxpaint and click the arrow and your done.

Ubuntu Software Center - Search
Ubuntu Software Center - Search

Synaptic

Synaptic is available through System Administration menu.

Again simply use Quick Search and type tuxpaint, Synaptic gives us more information about the packages, to install/uninstall software you tick the box and hit apply.

Synaptic - tuxpaint
Synaptic - tuxpaint

Tux Paint still reigns as the best educational paint software. Usually people are having too much fun with Tux Paint to think of it as an intelligent tutoring system within a highly interactive learning environment.

Tux Paint is available for free and as free software and you can also purchase the CD. It makes a great gift.

When Learning SEO

Don’t Worry About Validation

Being afraid to ask questions to your online community will only hinder your progress. Get your validation from offline sources of your life, like work, sport or hobbies.

Have a Vested Interest

Like a website with a clear commercial nature. If you don’t know what you’re trying to sell and to whom, you will flounder about in mediocrity.

Plan Your Tests

Before you start them. If you’re starting a PPC campaign for example, take the time to read up on different testing methods and the steps involved.

Keep It Simple

It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Take everything one step at a time and don’t be too fancy – you have enough on your plate.