50 Open Source Educational Tools

IT management at Earthweb has come up with a list of open source tools which can be used to replace commonly known ones. Why? Sometimes you have to work cross platform and it’s good to have software which will work on all OS so you are not changing what you do all the time from one OS to the next. Secondly, if you use Ubuntu or another Linux OS you are not always sure which application to use for the ones you know through Windows or Apple. Thirdly, open source software is free and evens out the playing field. This link gives you 50 applications to try our but also points you to other links which are specifically designed to collate IT materials for educators.

New kid on the browser block – Vivaldi

VivaldiVivaldi is so new as a browser it still has its training wheels and dreams of a great life to come. It plans to be across device and it will be supporting onboard Mail. I have only tried it since yesterday and have just joined the community so I am less than 24 hours into this and I am using it as my preferred browser. The only issue I have had is it would not type text on the login page for one site I needed for school this morning when I was on my MacBook. Everything else has been fine on Windows and Mac. It also runs on Linux so it’s completely cross-platform and that is how things should be these days. It is a stripped down browser and designed to be efficient. No argument there. It is amazingly fast and very uncluttered. I am used to a tool bar so I have had to retrain myself and have caught myself out a couple of times looking for my toolbar links. Old habits die hard! I like having the bookmarks at the side. I like what it offers as preloaded site bookmarks in different categories both when I run it in French and English. It simplifies everything without compromising on speed. Pages load ultra quickly. Mostly it operates from a slim sidebar but there are settings bottom left and ,bottom right ,you can stop the browser from loading images and become even faster. The thing which I appreciated the most at school on my whiteboard was the fact I could increase the size of the web page text by using the slider bottom right. It made one lesson so easy because we were working from a French website and to be able to enlarge it just by sliding and then work from that image on the board made for a really good teaching option. If you go to the Vivaldi site you can download the tech preview and then be a part of the community if you want to . It also explains just how much of an open source collaborative effort this new browser is. 2015 at last. You can find them on Twitter @vivaldibrowser.

USB Typewriters

Everything old is new again. Retro is the ultimate! Quite why you’d be converting an old typewriter into a USB dock for your iPad or anything else is beyond me, but the fact that this can be done is amazing. It is a project form Hive 76 in Philadelphia and if you go to the USB Typewriter site you will see just how dedicated these people are and the complex level to which they are working. It is built on open source and so it is a collaborative project. You can buy a typewriter and convert it with a kit or you can get one ready to go. It could actually get some really old people into computers because some of them would have had excellent typing skills, but then again, some people really are attracted to things form the past. Typewriters are pretty solid and heavy and it is a great way to recycle. It’s the inspiration which appeals to me and the fact that this is such an open and welcoming site. Bit of geek chic I think.

InkScape

InkScape is an open source, free vector graphics editor, and I have downloaded it and even though I have no real skills to speak of with graphics programmes, I have been pleased that I can use it easily for what I want to do and that the thing which I liked in the first five minutes was the filters! The programmes is quick to download but takes a little bit of time to install and then snaps open when you click on it. That was my first surprise. Most complicated graphics programmes seem to take a while to set themselves up. This application will suit high end graphics users and will manage the same sorts of things as sophisticated graphics programmes. Its advantage is it is open source and not so memory hungry as some of the other big graphics programmes. That might suit NetBooks and the like. I am wondering whether it can complement or work with the other graphics big names? That would be a real advantage. According to the site: “It imports formats such as Postscript, EPS, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats,” so presumably you could use it with your other graphics programmes. There is a developer and user community for you to join if you want to get more out of this application.

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