K-12 isn’t the hotbed of Open Education (yet), but you still will probably find this “year in review” article at opensource.com interesting.



Carry on…satisfied with the status quo?


The Internet Archive has provided us another service: NASA’s accumulation of images, videos, etc., well organized in one place for quick access and for use by you as a science educator and for you as a student in need of a great photo for your report on the solar system. The images are the product of work paid for by the taxpayers of the United States. The following statement clarifies how you may use them. Nicely open for access and use.


The NASA imagery offered on NASAIMAGES.ORG is generally not copyrighted. You may use this NASA imagery for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet Web pages (personal or otherwise). This general permission does not extend to any use of the NASA insignia logo (the blue “meatball” insignia), the retired NASA logotype (the red “worm” logo) and the NASA seal (the “NASA Properties”) whether or not used in conjunction with images obtained from NASAIMAGES.ORG. Notwithstanding the foregoing restriction, you may use the NASA name and the NASA initials only as indicators of the original source of the NASA imagery.

A credit line should be used in connection with the images and should read “NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org.”

The internet is opening our eyes to the world around us, and with this new site, it is also opening our eyes to the universe beyond our planet, too.


Another list of Open Source Software for Education from Datamation.


The list isn’t all for Linux. Windows and Mac software is included, and some of the stalwarts are not there, but you already knew about them, right?

What other software have you used to “transform” your classroom?

KDE Interactive Geometry Program (KIG) is a great tool for teaching math. Here is a good set of directions on how to do it.


If that article interests you, but you don’t use Linux, check out GeoGebra which is a program written in Java so it should run on any operating system that supports  Java Runtime 1.4.2 or later. You can even do a launch of the program from the Web.


[Geogebra link updated May 15, 2011]

Sugar on a Stick is the software originally available on the One Laptop Per Child project. Now it is separate. Walter Bender formed Sugar Labs to develop the Sugar educational interface and activity programs separated from the hardware development.

The big idea here is that SoaS makes one-to-one computing more viable. It does not need a fancy computer, just one that boots from USB (or can boot from CD with the extra ISO boot CD). The older computers being sidelined in schools can have longer life. The hard drive isn’t involved at all. Each student can have a complete learning system on a thumb drive. Prices locally (Boston, MA) for generic 8GB thumb drives have recently been around $8.00. That’s in single quantity. That’s affordable.

SoaS version 1 is now available. If you have not looked at it before because you didn’t have an OLPC, go through the steps to download the ISO image. At the very least, try it out on a regular PC by burning that image to CD. You can test the interface and find out about it. Then take the steps to make the USB thumb drive (minimum 1GB) which will let you go to any computer with a USB port and have a directory on the thumb drive to store your work.


I don’t really understand economics. Why gas prices go up in the summer eludes me, for example. But I was very interested in Ransom Stevens’ clear analysis of the economics of the publishing industry in this age of Internet and ebooks.


[I am going to go back to do more scanning of the content of the parent site: OpenDemocracy.net whom I thank for Stephens’ article which is released with a Creative Commons license. Good.]

Ransom Stephens isn’t described as an economist either (the article link of his name leads to his ID as a technologist and physicist, but his article is both enlightening and clear. His analysis may be controversial in the era of Digital Rights Management and expanding copyright terms. But new authors come along all the time. A few of them get a book published through the current system. Stephens envisions that all authors would get their shot and a new “word of mouth” in the Internet would give more of them a chance. He does have the following statement of publishing gloom though.

Except for the case of textbooks – but that’s a different article (the answer: textbooks in printed form will truly, conclusively die).

Is this a future of books you can live with?

Do you have a different view, and how open do you think the process needs to be?

Brigham Young University (BYU) has just begun its open content courses. They are much like the courses that MIT has been offering for a while. You don’t get credit from the University, but the courses are complete, mostly taken directly from courses taught regularly at the university.


BYU’s has only six offerings at the moment. They are running it as pilot program, but they significantly include three courses for high school students in addition to the three college level courses.

High School Courses