Archive for the 'open source' Category

Gizmos and improved curriculum for open source OS in education

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Miguel - you’d be proud. I’m actually writing about open source…kind of. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the way to go, but it typically just isn’t at the top of my interest list…

I read an article yesterday from SlashDot (a geek’s paradise) that was a VERY well balanced review of the three major OS’s. If you are interested in a review that doesn’t just bash one or the other, this is a great read. I didn’t think much of it after that, and went about my day.

This afternoon, we’re sitting in a presentation from Explore Learning that is about their product and the variety of ‘Gizmos’ that they have in their system. You may have seen things like these Gizmos - simple Java or Shockwave applets that allow you to play with different parameters of a concept and see the results immediately. Check out an example on NCTM that demonstrates this concept.

I’m trying to keep this one short, so I’ll get to the point. Explore Learning has fleshed out a variety of these little applets with curriculum correlations, lesson guides, etc. They are very well put together and allow for manipulation within Office type software as well. My thoughts ran back to the OS comparison article from yesterday, and one of the main negatives listed about the Open Source (Linux) OS is its lack of education/curriculum resources. I’m not saying that Explore Learning is THE way to go, but it certainly demonstrates a cross platform (they test a large number of browsers across all major OS’s) solution that would break down some of the Linux barriers.

Granted, paying for a solution goes against the whole concept of open source, but the quality of these applets is significantly better than others that I have seen online - and their library is quite a bit larger. On top of that, I would argue that a large number of teachers who struggle with technology integration would be more apt to integrate a more usable, complete system like this in a classroom environment. The few who ‘get it’ on a campus aren’t enough to get us to where we need to be.

Maybe I’m stuck on the highway here, but the concept of cross platform educational resources seems to be growing - and that is certainly a plus for the open source movement.