Tag Archives: education

IT at the University of Cincinnati

On Wednesday evening, I had the great privilege of being invited to the University of Cincinnati to attend the basketball game against Notre Dame, in the President’s box at the arena. In attendance, in addition to the President himself, were various people from, or connected with, the IT (Information Technology) program at the University of Cincinnati.

The IT program covers a broad range of computer technology related fields, and has specializations in networking, databases, programming, and various other areas. Students are exposed to a wide variety of computing platforms, so that they don’t get into a job interview situation and have to admit that they only have training on Microsoft products. Or only Linux products, for that matter. A breadth of experience is pure gold in an interview situation.

Hazem Said, the new head of that department, was my kind host at the game, and we talked about a variety of ways that Open Source can feature in an IT curriculum. I’m really excited about the kinds of things that are in the future for this program. We talked about having students participate in healthy, mature Open Source projects as part of their training. This would give them experience not only in software programming, but also in project management, cross-cultural communication, customer support, and marketing, among other things.

When I was in college – which wasn’t so very long ago – there were some computer classes, which were mostly programming, but nothing that covered the real discipline of Information Technology in the way that I saw on Wednesday. It gives me a great deal of hope for the next generation of IT professionals that come of this program, and other programs like it around the world.

By the way, if you’re ever invited to a basketball game by the head of a University department, do a little research, and don’t wear a shirt with the other team’s color. (Really, it was an honest mistake!)

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.)

Project of the Month September 2011 – GCompris

We are very excited to extend the Project of the Month award to GCompris. Continuing our focus on apps that help society, and in this case, education, GCompris is a bundle of over 100 educational games and activities for children ages 2 to 10. From geography to algebra to computer science to vector drawing, there is such a diversity of topics covered, this is sure to strike a chord with any child!

(See previous Project Of The Month winners)

Hats off to you and your team, Bruno Coudoin, for spending so many hours enriching the lives of children, and making learning fun and exciting. Keep up the great work, and thanks for giving back!

We encourage you to read more about the story of GCompris or download your own copy.