Open education

Student project suggestion:

Create public domain clipart for #OER for ANY topic in any class. Share on

Handouts, whether they are traditional paper or online creations, benefit from topical images. Why only search for suitable ones made by others? Make some yourself (model good process for your students), or alternatively, have your students make them and provide them a grade bump for their effort.

Physic diagram: positively charged pith balls repel

Make images for your subject, to illustrate a concept.

Calendar Icon

Make icons to help focus the mind while reading a worksheet/student guide.

Encourage students to contribute the images to make them easy to access for you, other classes in your school system and for the benefit of all. is a site which accepts original artwork created with the vector graphic tool, Inkscape.

Inkscape is a Free Software (AKA “open source”) tool you can download and install on your computers at school and at home. There are hundreds of good tutorials to help you and your students get started.

When you or a student publish a graphic to, give your school credit, too. Simply add a tag with a version of your school’s name that will let other teachers search the site for work done by the creatives in your district. There is no cost to set up an account, and the work submitted can also be used as part of a student’s portfolio and resumé, a great component for a college application. All the submitted graphics are, by rule, in the public domain. That makes them totally accessible.

It is easy to export graphics from openclipart to add them to a document in png format, perfect for word processing documents. It is just as easy to get the link codes to include the image on a Web page the way I did above with the physics illustration and calendar icon. You can even download a graphic in original Inkscape (svg) format to remix, modify, simplify, enhance to your specific needs.

If you decide to try this suggestion, please send links to graphics you or your students have created. Your success will encourage others.

Open Education Resources (OER) come in many forms. Some are complex and fullblown activities or even courses to use. Others are less ambitious.

Clipart might be one of the less ambitious offerings. is a source of clipart produced by almost 4000 different creative people. The clipart is designed using Inkscape, the Free Software vector art tool and is submitted to the site with a public domain dedication to remove any sort of restriction for reuse or remixing. There is no requirement to cite the original author, but it is gratifying and just plain nice to see the work reused.

I recently submitted a graphic of a truck carrying “loads of love” which I had initially created to add as a closing to emails to family.

loads of love

Today, I stumbled across a remix at done by another user: netalloy.

I  Like OCAL

Thanks to all who use a clipart. That’s what it is there for. Have fun. Share your work, too.

I came across an announcement about an audio editor called “Ocenaudio” available for free which is cross-platform. It sounded good. I looked at the web site and found out that they don’t mention a license. Most open-source/Free Software programs are proud of their use of the GPL or any of the other open licenses.

Ocenaudio does not have an open license according to this forum post.

Just because it is “free” as in gratis, no required payment does not qualify it as Free Software (also often called “open source”). With “Free” as in libre, the issue isn’t cost at all, but your liberty/freedom use without limits, to study it, to adapt the work to your needs and to redistribute your version as long as you don’t try to limit others from those same four freedoms.

For somebody just looking for cheap, I guess there’s no difference. But for those who care to build a strong, community supported software commons, Libre matters way more than Gratis.

When people ask about audio editors, I’ll keep recommending Audacity instead of ocenaudio, too.

LibreOffice is one of the major pieces in many, if not all, Linux distributions. LibreOffice has an installer for Windows and Macintosh. LibreOffice is Free and free. It is very popular throughout Europe. In spite of all that, it is not well known in the United States.

Do you use LibreOffice yourself? Would you like to be involved in promoting LibreOffice in any way? There’s a group forming to do just that. It is now meeting regularly online. If you would like to participate, let me know. I’ll contact you with the details.

One thing the group has set up is a “hackfest” IN BOSTON! planned for the weekend of July 26-27. At the hackfest, participants will share ideas, work on practical tasks, learn how to effectively do bug reporting, hear directly from developers. Save the dates.


When Eyeglasses Aren’t Enough

Jonathan Nadeau is blind. He is a computer user in spite of that. Many blind people around the world are unable to benefit from computers. Jonathan wants to do something about it.

I’ll just quote the email I got


Providing free access to the vision impaired people of the world, Accessible Computing foundations is raising funds to improve the Orca software; the worlds first free screen reader and operating system for the vision impaired. Through Accessible Computing Foundation’s Indiegogo campaign, you will provide computer access once and for all to the vision impaired citizens of the world.

The accessible Computing Foundation is a non profit developing Free assistive technology for people with all types of disabilities. there
are companies that develop assistive technology but the software is priced extremely high so only a small percentage of people that need this software to access a computer can have access to this software. This means that the rest of the people can’t have access to a computer
just because they can’t afford the software. The ACF wants to put an end to this and feels that everyone should be able to access a computer no matter what the physical hurddle might be to use a computer. This indiegogo campaign is the start of bringing access to all people with
types of disabilities. Lets bridge the gap between accessibility and technology! (link updated)

“H” is for happiness!

The “Hour of Code” is an initiative to get all sorts of kids and adults to devote an hour during the 2013 Computer Science Education Week (CSEd), promoted by the Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA), especially to draw attention to getting the activity to happen in the daily routine of school work. Lots of different groups have signed up to participate. There are hundreds of challenge activities which have been designed for every age group and for all sorts of contexts, in school and outside of the school setting.


This example is based on the Khan Academy activity at

This was my first use of the Kahn Academy site. The Kahn Academy activity was well done, with lots of popup support from an animated character named Hopper which is similar to the infamous “Clipper” help system of Windows. Hopper worked, especially in this context. The site does NOT require login or an account to use the coding tool. There is nothing to download. You are free to play.

Are you planning to participate?

Screencapture of my Kahn challenge. Yes, I know that the expected result is just the basic large “H” outlines, but what’s the point of stopping when the urge to extend washes over? If you choose to complete the activity for the badge, you will want to set up an account and go through the steps without doing extensions. You are not limited to the planned activity, but the system is set up to get a particular result in order for you to earn official recognition.


Good resources all around us.

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