Software to support eLearning: OpenEducationDisc

We live in financially challenging times. Fortunately there are people who don't allow themselves to be put down by the abscence of something as important as money. Today I am thankful for the people of OpenEducationDisc who has scoured the Internet for opensource (i.e. free) software that are of educational value, and then decided to make all of those titles available in the form of one download that you can burn on a DVD-ROM. They just saved me an enormous amount of time!

I have personally tested many of the applications in the list below, and they work just as well as their commercial alternatives. The only requirements are:

  1. You must be willing to try new things, and
  2. not give up on it if it doesn't work the same way as the commercial alternative.

The OpenEducationDisc is 100% free. There are no strings attached. You can give them a donation if you like the product but, although that would be nice, it is not necessary. Follow these steps to get a copy:

  1. You need a Windows computer with DVD writer, and software that can burn an iso image. If for some reason, your CD / DVD burning software doesn't recognize the iso file after you have downloaded the file in step 4 below, you will have to download and install InfraRecorder (a free, opensource program that burns CD's and DVD's): http://infrarecorder.org/?page_id=5.
  2. This is a rather large download, so if you don't have an unlimited broadband internet connection, I would not download the complete file. If you have a slow connection, or a cap on the amount of information you may download per month, please visit http://www.theopendisc.com/education/. You can visit the home page of each of the software titles from this page, and selectively  download the software you want.
  3. You need a download manager for a download of this size. I like the DownThemAll! add-on for Mozilla Firefox. So, if you have Mozilla Firefox, access the following link in Firefox and download the add-on: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/201. You will need to restart Firefox to make it work. Firefox will prompt you with a license agreement for DownThemAll!. It is safe to accept it. If for some reason you don't use Firefox (a discussion for another post), or add-ons are just too intimidating, you can download and install the Free Download Manager: http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/. I have used it extensively.
  4. After your download manager is installed, click on this link: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/opendisc/OpenEducationDisc09.07.iso.
  5. When the download is completed, you will need a blank DVD-ROM / DVD disk. The iso file that you have downloaded needs to be copied to an empty DVD-ROM / DVD disk to work. Afterwards you will use this DVD disk to install the programs to your computer.
  6. Double click on the OpenEducationDisc09.07.iso file, and allow your computer to burn the disk for you.
  7. Have fun with your new library of cool software!

The OpenEducationDisc contains the following software (taken from their website):

Office and Design

  • OpenOffice.org – Fully compatible office software for your school work
  • Dia – Make technical diagrams and flowcharts
  • Scribus – Create professional looking posters and magazines
  • GanttProject – Plan your school projects with this project management software
  • FreeMind – Collect your ideas with this mind mapping Software
  • PDF Creator – Make PDF documents from any program
  • Sumatra PDF – Read PDF files quickly and easily

Internet

  • Firefox – A safe, secure and fast web browser
  • Thunderbird – Manage your emails better than ever – Reclaim your inbox!
  • Pidgin – Talk to your friends whatever instant message client they use
  • Kompozer – Create web pages easily, without having to code
  • RSSOwl – Keep up with your favourite internet news feeds on your desktop

Art and Graphics

  • GIMP – Edit digital photos and create graphics
  • GIMP animation – Create animations
  • Inkscape – Make professional looking vector graphics
  • Pencil – Animate your own cartoons
  • Blender – 3D graphic modeling, animation, rendering and playback
  • Tuxpaint – Drawing program for children ages 3 to 12

Multimedia

  • VLC – Play music, videos and DVDs
  • Audacity – Record, edit and mix music
  • TuxGuitar – Compose your own music
  • Piano Booster – Teach yourself the piano
  • Avidemux – Edit movies and add special effects
  • Infra Recorder – Burn your own CDs and DVDs
  • CamStudio – Record your actions on a computer
  • Really Slick Screensavers – Great looking screensavers

Science and Mathematics

  • Nasa Worldwind - Discover the earth and other planets~
  • Greenfoot – Teach yourself how to program
  • GraphCalc – A graphical calculator
  • Guido Van Robot – Learn how computer programs work
  • CarMetal – Cool mathematical modelling tool
  • Maxima – University standard computer algebra system
  • Celestia – Explore the universe in three dimensions
  • Stellarium – A planetarium on your PC

Games

  • FreeCiv - Control the world through diplomacy and conquest
  • FreeCol – Discover the ‘New World’ and build an empire
  • Numpty Physics – Solve puzzles using physics
  • TuxTyping 2 – Learn to type like a pro
  • Tux of Math Command – Test your mathematical skills
  • Winboard Chess – The classic game of chess

Utilities

  • GTK+
  • 7zip
  • Abakt
  • Clamwin
  • HealthMonitor
  • Workrave

Advanced Internet

  • Httrack
  • Tight VNC
  • Filezilla
  • Azureus
  • WinSCP

In a future post I will chat a little about using opensource operating systems like Ubuntu Linux as a money-saving alternative for the computer workstations at your school. This will put an even larger library of free software at your disposal.

For His glory!

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