Open source educational tools for 2014

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Open education resources

Last year was a big year of open source learning for me. I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of awesome people in the open source field, attending my first OSCon, and being a Community Moderator here on I learned more than I can say last year, especially in education. Here, I'll share with you some my favorite (and super interesting) open source educational tools for teachers, students, parents, and others to use in 2014.

My number one educational tool is WordPress. I know, you thought I was going to say Moodle (which is also awesome), but WordPress is a tool I use everyday to educate others. WordPress powers my personal and work websites, where I write about topics that help my colleagues around the world learn about open source software. It's often important to remember that just because a tool isn't marketed for a specific purpose doesn't mean it won't be the right one for what you're trying to accomplish.

One of the things I use my WordPress sites for is sharing tutorial videos. Last year, I learned about Kazam, another option for this and an open source screencasting application for Ubuntu, so this tool falls under my Must Try in 2014 list. I want to find out how it works in comparison with other tools I've used in the past like RecordMyDesktop and Camstudio.

Right before the end of the year, I met with the local EdTech Women's chapter and talked with some local educators about the tools they use in their schools. I was delighted to learn that Scratch and Alice (both of which I learned about at OSCon) are a big hit with the kids. Any tool that gets children learning about computer programming at an early age is a tool to get on board with as soon as possible.

When it comes to molding the next generation of open source developers, sometimes all it takes is introducing them to open source tools. Then, it's all down (up?) hill from there. Jon Roberts of the Davis School District in Utah spoke at OSCon about how he uses open source in his classroom every day. He's not using it to teach programming though, he's using it to teach math and science. Jon introduced me to the KDE Education Project which offers a suite of applications that you could use for teaching many different subjects.

A full list of my favorite open source education tools and resources can be found on my Delicious page. I also wrote and published a list of Open Source Options for Education over at OSSWatch.


What tools do you think we should keep an eye on in 2014?

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Nicole C. Baratta (Engard) is a Senior Content Strategist at Red Hat. She received her MLIS from Drexel University and her BA from Juniata College. Nicole volunteers as the Director of ChickTech Austin. Nicole is known for many different publications including her books “Library Mashups", "More Library Mashups", and "Practical Open Source Software for Libraries".


I can't find how much open source it is, but LiveCode [] is something to keep an eye on. It builds on the way HyperCard works -- the programming environment that came with Macs in the 90's. With just basic English syntax and an interpreter that can handle regular human sentences it makes programming easy.

The old HyperCard even provided the possibility to put code though a language filter so that you can use your own tongue for programming. When LiveCode supports such feature all over the planet people who can write are able to program. And that would be a fun thing!

yes you r right wordpress in the number 1 educational tool.
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Wordpress might be a number one tool but now there is tough competition in the coming year. There are some other <a href="">Opensource</a> tools available.

Nicole, it is great to hear of education and open source in the same breath...they are so well aligned in terms of values, benefits, etc, that it makes sense to use one in the other. Not sure if you saw this other article on Gibbon (disclosure: I wrote it ; ), but that system definitely aims to use open source to improve education: Thanks! Ross.

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Another great tool which doesn't get much attention is OpenSankore. It's digiboard software, which is simpel and platform agnostic.

i find it very disappointing that both Scratch and Alice are not proper Free Software.

while Scratch 2 is GPL, it switched away from the Smalltalk implementation and now requires adobe air. it is thus no longer pure Free Software, and since adobe dropped Linux support it won't even run on Linux for much longer.

Alice 3 seems to come with a BSD license (which mentions source) but no source appears to be available. Alice 2 continues to be developed, but there too, i could only find older versions of the source.

greetings, eMBee.

Agreed, Scratch 2 is an utter disappointment. Why they decided to go to AIR and Flash runtimes is beyond me, I feel they really let people down, especially since Squeak or Java would have achieved the same thing but for free.

Scratch 2 is a pain to install, it betrays the open source sensibility. Luckily, Scratch 1.x is still available for download and runs perfectly well.

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