Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Computer Software

You might notice that in my list of resources I have a section about Free Open Source Computer Software in which I share some links of some really great stuff that we use. I realize these programs are not homeschool specific, but there are benefits that homeschoolers can gain from using them. So, just what is Open Source Software anyway?

Open Source software is free software that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. Yes, it is not only free financially, but it gives you the user freedom to use that software however you want. Those who know how to program are free to change it in anyway they want as long as they make their changes available for free as well. For those who are not programmers, such as myself, we get the use of their products at no charge and can offer feedback on how it performs.

Now lets look at a couple of the benefits for homeschoolers who use Open Source Software.

Financial Benefits: Since Open Source Software is available at no cost, it is perfect for homeschooling families who are generally on a budget. I am sure I do not have to remind you fellow homeschoolers about the sacrifices we make living on a single income and how much we spend on the curriculum and supplies we use in school to begin with. Having access to great programs at no cost is a very strong motivator to give these programs a try. Why pay $100 for MSOffice when you can get the Open Office Productivity Suite absolutely free? There are free Open Source programs for just about anything you could want or need for your home, or school. The financial savings alone can be a great motivator to give some of these programs a try.

Educational Benefits: There are a variety of educational benefits to using Open Source Software as well. The most obvious, of course, is the ability to understand and learn computer programming. The fact that the source code for each program is available for the public to view and modify gives every person the opportunity to see how it works if they are interested in learning about it. There are even Open Source games that teach children programming by giving them commands that actually move around the character on their screen.

If your child is learning how to use these programs and begins to show an interest in them, they will also learn the art of research. I have recently discovered this myself! My Open Source Blog is a testiment to my ability to research, run and report on my experiences with this software. But it does not always have to be that complicated to get some educational benefits from it.

The programs themselves, are often geared toward learning. If you run an Open Source Operating System you have access to a large variety of free educational programs. EdUbuntu is a distribution of linux geared towards schools and has a variety of educational games and tools that come with it. To read about some of the awesome resources you can have at your fingertips check out the link below.

Edubuntu The Applications

These are just a few of the apps you will find there, if you actually visit the link you can read more about each one of these programs plus the other ones that are available with this distribution.

Atomix puzzle game for building molecules out of isolated atoms
Dia Diagram editor
GCompris Educational games for small children
Inkscape vector-based drawing program
kalgebra algebraic graphing calculator for KDE 4
Kalzium periodic table and chemistry tools for KDE 4
Kbruch fraction learning aid
kstars desktop planetarium for KDE 4

You have to admit, these are some great resources for homeschooling. So what programs can you use, even in Windows, and where should you begin? Well, here is a list of programs that I have personally used and highly recommend. Remember, this is only a small sampling of what is available out there.

There is another program that I just have to tell you about as well. It is Blender, a 3D creation suite. You can actually make 3D models using this program and it comes with user manuals and tons of support right there at their website. That all sounds great but what does that mean? Well, take a look. This animated short was made entirely using Blender, a free Open Source program! Think of how much your kids can learn while having fun playing around with this product!



From graphic and 3D modeling programs to money software, educational tools, and games there is an Open Source product to meet your needs. Why not save your school some money and give your children the upper edge by giving them access to all of these great resources?

To read more about my experience and recommendations for Open Source Software visit my new blog Opening Eyes to the World of Open Source Software. I welcome you to share your comments and ask lots of questions because my goal there really is to help others better understand the Open Source movement and the benefits it has offer.

2 comments:

MommaYoung said...

Thank you Lori for all this great information. I can definately use extra tools for getting my daughter ready for school.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting about the recipe. Let me know how you like it.

Marco F. said...

Greetings,

Great article! If you and your readers want to read an interview to a homeschool dad who already uses this Free Software, here it is, on my own website: http://stop.zona-m.net/node/68

Hope this helps,
Marco

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