August 2008

Believe it or not, we aren’t the only blog about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) use in education.

Here is a great blog article focused on math/science software for high school and college students.

For me, the new information is about the tool for connecting a Texas Instruments calculator to Linux. The TI versions of the PC connection software only work with Windows and Mac.


In case you weren’t paying attention, the 2008-2009 school year is about to begin. Get those summer plans competed!


Have you wished that you could collect and print a glossary for the next student project?

Have you been stymied because it would be illegal to copy your glossary from copyrighted materials, or did you stop just because it was too much work?

Do you think it would be a good idea to have a real public domain dictionary with definitions intended for children?

The K-12 Open Education project needs your input. They have started a mass collaboration dictionary that needs definitions suited for students. They searched hard, and there just isn’t one available, yet.

Here’s another opportunity for you to add your bit. “Many hands make easy work.” Write one or many definitions for the dictionary. You can do it anonymously or can sign in to identify your contributions.

Doesn’t this task fit the basic reason you became a teacher, to provide information in a form students can use? Go beyond the walls of your classroom.

Don’t forget to check out the glossary tool (follow the “experimental” link at the left of the main page).

Most of the exciting open source software we have discussed in MOSSS blog posts has been for classroom educators, “where the rubber meets the road” to appropriate an old advertising tag line. We are strongly in favor of getting useful tools into the hands of students and teachers. However, there are tools that administrators should know about, too, tools that improve the success of a whole school or district.

Here are a couple of links for the district level, administrators and IT staff.

Maybe the librarian (with proper backing from the district office) should consider the Evergreen open source library software developed by the Georgia Public Library System:

IT staff (often/usually/always) have too much to do and find it is more difficult to set up a test of some new software, even as a summer project. Here is a great idea, simple “stack” installations, not only the application you want to test, but the entire set of supporting software (databases, web servers, etc.). Even better, it gets installed in a directory on a working system so you don’t have to devote a whole machine to the test (unless you want to). You can install more than one stack on the same machine. You can delete the install in a quick, painless way if you don’t like the application. The complete installers even automate the basic configuration steps for the entire stack by asking you to answer some appropriate questions.

The wizards at BitNami have packaged many tools for Blogging (WordPress, Roller), Content Management Systems (Joomla, Drupal, etc.) Wikis, Online Course Management (Moodle), and much, much more.

We recommended it to you earlier, others have said it is good, but Open Office (OOo) has just received another recognition.

Open Office has been selected as the “Best Project for Educators” in this year’s SourceForge Community Choice Awards. Registered users of the site nominated and voted. Open Office is certainly a core item on the list of “must have” software. The awards also selected OOo as best overall project, by the way.

SourceForge is an open source software support Web site. You can spend hours (days!) browsing the “projects” listed there.

Congratulations to the project.

You are using it, aren’t you?