Tuesday, July 14

#18 (Week 8) FOSS (gimp, audacity, kompozer), eXe, hot potatoes

Free and open source software (FOSS) is software which is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.
This has a couple of very appealing consequences. Apart from being free (duh), companies and individuals can tinker with the code and customise the software to meet their needs, they can also see where there might be security risks and vulnerabilities in the code (and patch these faults to reduce the risk of exploitation).

Confusingly, there is also a type of software that is offered for free, but without the source code (so you can install and use it, but can't modify it). In the open source world this is often referred to as: 'free (as in beer)' - in contrast to the open source free (as in speech, also known as libre software). While not optimal, there are some great programs available under the 'free beer' model.

Discovery exercises:

For this discovery exercise you'll be installing and running some free software. Find something that you might use in your course delivery or content development, in the discovery resources below. Download and install it and then blog about your experience. What software did you choose (include a link)? How easy was it to get working? What's the interface and documentation like? Would you recommend it to a friend?

Discovery Resources:

The mother lode and home of most of the free and open source code is found at Sourceforge - have a look around and see what you can find.

Sourceforge is a huge, rambling, sometimes not-quite-up-to-date collection - perhaps a little too big for easy consumption. If you're interested in purely educational FOSS you might find Eduforge a little easier to digest.

Another interesting specialist collection of FOSS software is portableapps.com which distributes applications that can run from USB drives (these applications will also run from computer hard drives). The interesting thing about this is that no supervisor priveleges are needed to install and run these programs, so you can easily carry them around with you and/or set them up in a training room with the minimum of fuss.

In a hurry? Here's a few links to some interesting free software for learning content developers:
Or you can get a whole bunch of it on one CD by downloading the open education package

Carriculum connections
  1. Burn an openeducation CD to distribute to new trainees
  2. Install some content development software such as Avidmux, Audacity, or the GIMP and have your trainees use it to produce training material and evidence of competency.

Image: 'Light My Path'

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