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OpenSource in Education

After a long silence I'm back. Since I've landed my new lecturer role I have been busy creating Schemes of Work, Lesson Plans and researching ways to increase resources for students so they may have a better learning experience.

In fact, it is the former of the items that this article relates to. The first obvious question is why? Well, the college that I am in provides tuition for international students, who have given up a lot to come here and study. Many of these students are struggling to find work to support themselves during their studies, so if they require resources "free" is a keyword.

These type of resources, that I refer to here, are mostly concerned with software. So let's get started.

Students will be using Writer for all their courses, Calc for subjects relating to maths, economics, accounting, etc, Impress for subjects that require students to present.

There are a number of reasons for selecting this application:

  1. It is open source which means that the students do not need to look for cheaper alternatives to Microsoft Office. This encouraged students to be proactive in their learning and inspired them to install the software at home and work on their assignments in their own time
  2. It is a recognised alternative to MS Office
  3. Generous licensing terms in distributing the application
  4. Encourages collaboration between students so that they may share work and study together. In fact lecturers here have picked up on this and are sharing documents with students. Unfortunately, with Office 2007 it is easy to forget to "Save as" an older version to share with others.
Mac users will benefit from NeoOffice.


While has a Draw application, which many students are using effectively, what if they want to produce Flowcharts, UML diagrams, etc?

This application was slightly inspired by Microsoft Visio but is aimed towards a more casual approach to drawing diagrams. You can also export diagrams to many formats including PNG and SVG.


A very decent text editor, with support for many different languages and can integrate with the compiler of a number of languages.

I currently use this to teach Java programming.

jMemorize or FreeMind

The students still need to revise and work on improving their memorising capabilities. jMemorize uses the flash card technique which are familiar with. Alternatively, FreeMind, makes use of the mind mapping technique and is sometimes used to create a site links page for web sites.


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