This year we have three key objectives. Firstly to continue our laptop/desktop program. Secondly the Sabeto project that is supported by QUT’s Engagment Innovation Grant will be implemented. Thirdly refine and develop strategies to support teachers with their ICT strategies.
In the past Windows had been installed on all our secondhand laptops. This year we intend to use Edubuntu. The Edubuntu website explains more about the project as follows:
What is Edubuntu?
Edubuntu is a grassroots movement, we aim to get Ubuntu into schools, homes and communities and make it easy for users to install and maintain their systems.
We are students, teachers, parents and hackers who believe that learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them.
Our aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain.
An Ubuntu Project
The majority of the technical work that the Edubuntu team performs occurs within the Ubuntu project. All the packages we work on are available in the Ubuntu software repositories and the Edubuntu DVD is built from the exact same repositories as the Ubuntu discs and other official derivatives.
Chandra and Chandra (in press) explain the value of this application as follows:
A third option is the installation of Ubuntu Linux operating (http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/why-use-ubuntu). This is an open source, free software. Where financial resources are a major constraint (e.g. schools in developing countries), this is a significant advantage. Its stability, security, and the availability of free software (including open-source anti-virus and firewall software) enhance its usability for the users. For example, either through Ubuntu’s software centre or the “apt-get” tool https://help.ubuntu.com/8.04/serverguide/apt-get.html) software can be either installed, updated, or deleted with ease. Thousands of free applications (including education) can be accessed from the Unbuntu website. Provided the schools have Internet access (to download the software), such an option can be quite effective and efficient. The no cost factor is important.
With PC’s and Mac’s pre-installed applications such as Windows Moviemaker, imovie, and iphoto offer a range of options and opportunities. Free downloads such as Photo Story 3 for Windows can also be very useful in classrooms. While the acquisition of applications such as Microsoft Office can be costly, a viable alternative would be to use Libre Office (http://www.libreoffice.org/) which is an open source software and works across all common operating systems. It is available in more than 30 languages. It has six applications – Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base which enable the user to engage in activities where they can create documents, spreadsheets, databases, power points and so on. Similarly, the possibilities presented by such software which are free downloads should also be explored to keep the integration initiative low cost.
Once the system has been installed, identifying other appropriate applications for classroom use is important. Three strategies are useful here: (a) free downloads are always the preferred option to keep the costs down; (b) stand-alone programs are more useful in developing countries because they do not need the Internet to run, and (c) where possible, the identified stand-alone applications should enable learners to construct their knowledge in a constructivist-learning environment to facilitate higher order thinking in learners.