Open Your Classroom
Open Source Software

Kimberly Tohill, Penn State University
February 15, 2012
9:15 - 10:15am

     Open Source Software (OSS) is generally defined as free software that is open to use by the general public and available for modification by anyone through its source code.  Producers of OSS are not concerned with financial gain and simply create products that anyone can use; OSS is often created in a collaborative and public manner.  OSS is often used synonymously with free software; however, the main difference is that the code of OSS is open to modification whereas the code of free software is not.  

The following is a list of great OSS that can easily be implemented in your classroom:

Alice is a 3D programming environment that allows students to create animations and videos and play interactive games; it introduces students to fundamental programming concepts.  Alice currently has two versions:  one designed for middle school and the other for high school or college. 

Audacity software is used to record and edit sounds; users have the ability to cut, copy, splice, or mix sounds as well as change the pitch and speed of recordings.  In addition, Audacity can record live via microphone or mixer and digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, and minidiscs. 

Blender is a software used for creating animated films, visual effects, video games, and other interactive 3D applications.  Blender has lower hardware requirements than most 3D suites; however, it is also a more advanced platform for digital video creation and editing.

Flashqard software allows users to create and share flash cards on any topic; the software improves learning because it allows users to focus on the most difficult cards by reviewing them more frequently.  (Not currently available for Mac OS.)

Gimp is a program – much like Photoshop - that allows users to manipulate images and photos through retouching, composing, and authoring.

Juice allows users to create their own custom, online audio feeds anytime, anywhere.  Juice manages and organizes podcasts for a variety of multimedia players; it also has a built-in directory of podcast feeds.

NVU (“n-view”) is an easy-to-use, web-authoring tool that allows users to create professional looking websites without any HTML or web coding knowledge. 

Open Office                                                                            
Open Office is an office software suite that includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases.  It is available in multiple languages; data can be saved in a standard open format or as file types that are common to other office software programs. 

Scratch is an interactive programming language that allows users to create their own stories, animations, games, music, and art by snapping together graphic blocks, much like Legos.  Users can easily share their creations on the web; the program is targeted toward 8- to 16-year-olds but still has broad appeal. 

Links for further exploration:

Open Source Windows
This site provides a list of OSS available for Windows.

Open Source God

This site has more than 400 open source applications.

Source Forge
Find, create, and publish open source software for free!


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