Free and Open Source (FOSS) Online Educational Programsf
Reproduced from the OLPC Wiki (11/2007)
A wiki is a type of computer software that allows users to easily create, edit and link web pages. Wikis are often used to create collaborative, community websites with the inputs of many contributors. A collaborative Web site comprises the perpetual collective work of many authors. It is often conversational in tone as contributors provide information and express their points of view to the other community members.
Important: because a wiki is always growing, a reproduction from a wiki captures it only to that moment in time.
Topics include: Programming for Kids , Software to create Text Adventures, Constructivist Learning Using Simulation and Programming Environments, Software to Support Education, A Concept Mapping Tool, Unit Calculator, Dictionary software, Arithmetic training software, Software to enable Participatory Simulations, Software to create System Dynamics models, Software to create Ecological Simulations, Teaching Software,Story Teller, Ebook Reader, MIT Sketching, Interactive Assistants, OLPC and interactive assistants, References, Virtual Manipulatives (for math learning), Nelements, Educational Wikis
Since python will be installed by default, the python for education site is interesting too.
Also known as Interactive Fiction. However, MOOs are a bit more engaging but they need some sort of central server in which to create "the world". A central server might not be available where these laptops will. See Talk:Educational_Software#MUSEs_or_MOOs discussion.
In that discussion it is argued that a MOO environment wouldn't work because it would require a central server to install "the world". Couldn't this obstacle be surmounted by allowing the creation of "personal worlds" or houses, that one child can share and another child can access when both computers are within WiFi reach? It seems that this kind of application is exactly what the OLPC should be focusing on, consider:
Relationship of technology to learning methods and curriculum design that are productive for students. Explores concepts of constructivist learning, practical applications in the development of interactive construction toys, e.g., Legos, and the use of software development in teaching.
This refers to software that does not teach anything directly but is available to facilitate learning. Examples include wireless chat and dictionaries.
Or FreeMind basic MindMapping tool (built in Java) http://freemind.sourceforge.net/
A calculator that takes into account the units of the numbers. Some tool to be able to make calculations like these.
Synonyms, antonyms, definitions, English/Spanish (or other language) translations, pronunciation
There are lots of dictionary programs available, defined file formats, and dictionaries. One of the formats is SDICT which is used by various client programs including various types of mobile phone. Because they have already done the work to make a small compressed format we should leverage that and use their dictionary files. Alexey Semenoff has a page discussing the work of the sdictionary project.
A Python client for Symbian S60 can be downloaded from this site. It shows how to read the sdict format (conv.py) and how the dictionary can be further compressed to use on a device like a mobile phone or OLPC (src/pydict.py).
In summary, Sdictionary is a dictionary that uses its own dictionary format. Unlike ptkdic or gtkdic, MySQL isn't needed; you can work with dictionary files directly. It uses Unicode, meaning that words and articles all are in UTF-8. There are two index levels, compression, and tools to convert from text files to .dct and vice versa.
Many dictionary databases are already available, some of them in target languages like Hindi, and Brazilian Portuguese. The fact that Python tools are available makes it easier for application and content developers to integrate this into their projects.
RekenTest is a software package to train arithmetic skills, by offering arithmetic problems based on the child's performance, and throws in extra practice if needed. While this is training software, it might be good tool to include, as arithmetic skills are a basic part of a child's education. Currently work is done to create a small size, low memory consumption version to run under WINE. Also an attempt is made to build a Linux binary with Kylix. Spanish and English are available, a Portuguese translation will be available soon.
Like predator/prey models, scarce resources, snow ball effect (reinforcing feedback), dynamics of drug addiction, growth of human populations, exponential spreading of deseases, conflict escalation, dynamic equilibrium. These are the current software implementations all of them are non-free software http://sysdyn.clexchange.org/links_software.html
I think this is what we want to emulate: Industrial Equipment Simulators . An example, Lathe Simulators:  Could it be done using open free country tools:? Can these tools run in the OLPC? Truly yours: MEXICO/Ags/--Dagoflores 22:37, 7 November 2006 (EST)
Teaching Software refers to applications whose primary goal is to deliver educational content. In the western world this is often very poorly implemented in CBT (Computer Based Training) modules or tedious drill and practice software. These approaches are not ideally suited to the OLPC environment. Drill and practice would demotivate the kids and CBT does not have the depth of information needed. There are some cases when such software may be useful to OLPC - when it exists with an open license and covers important material and/or has a superficially engaging interface - but effort to develop new software would better be spent elsewhere.
Before my child needs an Ebook reader, she will need to the computer to read interactive stories to her. OLPC can read her a story, and show her the words and pictures all at once to reinforce literacy. My baby won't use the keyboard until the keys have meanings. She might be able to use the touch pad to point first. The keys can gain meaning through stories and eventually letters will join to become words. Those meanings come from seeing the words, and interacting with the story teller.
This is teaching software that takes the rich and detailed content of textbooks and encyclopedias into the OLPC. Discussion of eBook feature set.
Drill software is based on the idea that the computers has the answers to the questions the kids is asked. The model is: intelligent computers, stupid kids. Clearly the kids are bored or tries to cheat the software - most often with luck... Computers aren't really intelligent!
On the other end of the spectrum is simulation software. Here the kids asks the questions and the computer do the computing. Afterwards the kids has to interpret the results. The model: Computers as computing tools, kids as researchers.
A third model is called interactive assistants. Interactive assistants is assistants to the teacher, because they ask the kids questions in relation to a subject matter or a process the kids has to master: Like performing an interview: Which type of questions to ask, how to focus the questions etc.
In this model the stand alone computers or more often web servers are programmed (preferably by using a user friendly backend, like a CMS) by teachers or text book authors to ask the questions that interactively (hence interacive assistants) leads the kids through the subject matter process in relation to the specific project they have (for example: To do an interview with a certain person). The model: Computers as structuring the kids' learning process (scaffolding), and the kids as the working and thinking part.
When teachers and kids around the world have access to computers and (hopefully) to the internet, the vision must be to develop a universal "open source" educational library of interactive assistants to assist kids to develop their competencies.
Jeppe Bundsgaard: Interactive assistants (part of PhD-thesis in danish - translation coming up hopefully)
One argument for the design of virtual manipulatives has been saving money (physical manipulatives can be expensive, can be lost, can come in limited quantities). There is a library of virtual manipulatives available online http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html that provides a variety of activities and manipulatives for learning different math concepts.
(Shameless plug) I am also working on creating a new kind of virtual manipulative - one that attempts to build a bridge between artistic design efforts and mathematical learning. My desire to do this partially stems form the fact that I think some learners are more comfortable in either art or math, and that through this bridge they can step a little bit outside their comfort zones into the realm with which they are less comfortable (but still in a context they like). So, if you are very excited about art, you can try some math through your design activities, and if you like math but don't feel like you are very good at art, you can create some neat patterns that solve challenges posed from the mathematical perspective. I am interested in working with this laptop project.
I think that whatever (virtual) math manipulatives are available should be considered for this project. I would also like to see more of these virtual manipulatives developed for general use, but it seems like instances where money matters so much, this solution does not add any cost and would be useful.
Please, let's not forget that the OLPC is for the delivery of content as well as applications. It is not a tech toy. I agree that physical objects that can be manipulated will make it easer to teach maths. But they don't need to be virtual. Include material to teach the children how to make manipulatives out of scrap wood or palm leaves. Include measuring tools so the kids can check their dimensions by holding the objects up to the screen. Integrate the construction of manipulatives into the learning process.
Nelements is a generic 3d knowledge representation system that can be used to represent knowledge in a language of thought.
GiveThought.com (GT) is a wiki-based social entrepreneurship concept. GT will gather wiki lesson contributions to form coherent customizable learning curricula to be offered for free around the world to
- Those who are unable to access formal education.
- Those who wish to complement their formal educations
- Those who wish to access information about subjective topics from an organized and coherent source.
If you are interested in learning about or participating in the development of project GT, please contact founder Jonathan Schafler