Open Source tools for education

I’ve been asked to speak at the annual technology conference of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities. While this is a huge honor, it’s also rather intimidating. I’ve observed that we, as technology professionals, tend to go into various places and tell experts how to do their jobs better with technology without actually understanding the underlying problem space.

One of the great things about Open Source is that it’s not just a company imposing a technical solution on you from outside, but you’re able to participate in the solution yourself and make changes to the end product. I’ve witnessed this first-hand with Moodle when we used it as our online learning platform at Asbury University, and I was able to make changes to Moodle which then went back into the upstream product.

These are some of our most popular educational tools, ranging from online learning to self-tutoring to educational games. I’d love to hear your take on Open Source educational tools, both from Sourceforge and elsewhere.

  • Moodle Moodle Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.
  • Schoolplay Schoolsplay Schoolsplay is a collection of educational activities for children.
  • Open Teacher OpenTeacher OpenTeacher is an opensource application that helps you learning a foreign language vocabulary. Just enter some words in your native and foreign language, and OpenTeacher tests you.
  • Brain Workshop Brain Workshop Brain Workshop is a Python implementation of the Dual N-Back mental exercise. This exercise is the only mental activity that has been scientifically shown to improve your short-term memory (working memory) and fluid intelligence.
  • Logisim Logisim An educational tool for designing and simulating digital logic circuits, featuring a simple-to-learn interface, hierarchical circuits, wire bundles, and a large component library. As a Java application, it can run on many platforms.
  • Celestia Celestia Celestia is an application for real-time 3D visualization of space, with a detailed model of the solar system, over 100,000 stars, more than 10,000 galaxies, and an extension mechanism for adding more objects. (I spent way too much time playing with this one.)