A friend and co-worker is about to travel to Costa Rica on special trip, inspired by a friendship his wife established with a peace corps volunteer working there. A rural elementary school they are going to visit has recently received several computers and electrical power. My friend and his wife are bringing an older computer from their home to donate to the school, along with a new computer students in their local high school (in Oklahoma) have raised funds to purchase for the school. Currently the Costa Rican school does not have Internet access, but dial-up Internet access may be a possibility in the future.
His questions to me today were, “What software would you recommend for these elementary students and their teacher to use? What other recommendations do you have for them as far as technologies for them to use in the classroom?”
My top recommendations for software (based in part on feedback from my July post “A digital playground of dreams?”) included:
- EduBuntu as an operating system already pre-loaded with lots of educational software, and available in Spanish
- TuxPaint as a great, free drawing and painting environment
- Scratch as an environment to tell stories, build games, and learn a wide host of problem solving, mathematical and programming skills
- Audacity as a digital storytelling tool
- PhotoStory as a digital storytelling tool
- OpenOffice as productivity software
I’m sharing the link to the “We Invent the Future” software list I started in July with my friend– I’ve added additional keys to the legend, indicating if the software is available in multiple languages and if it requires Internet access. Feel free to directly edit that wiki page and add suggestions of you own, if there are things left off that should be included.
I also recommended getting a battery-operated digital voice recorder that students and teachers can use with Audacity, like the this one from SanDisk. I’d rather recommend one that is cross-platform, but I’m not readily finding a cross-platform audio recorder in the $40 range in our area, that is battery operated.
We also discussed the benefit of bringing and sending copies of websites that students and teachers can use “offline,” since they don’t currently have any Internet access at school. I remember “back in the day” before we had Internet access from our classroom computers (mid 1990’s) using the program “WebWhacker” to make offline copies of websites which we then transferred over to each computer’s hard drive. (I published an article about this in 97-98 titled, “Offline Web Browsing = No More Excuses!”) WebWhacker is still around (now in version 5) but I am not sure if there are better solutions for creating offline CDs of web content like this– especially free versions. Does anyone know or have recommendations along this line?
In terms of the logistics of networking the computers at school, because of the cinder block construction running an actual ethernet wire between the computers may not be workable, so my friend was going to try and set up an ad-hoc wireless network connection, with just local file sharing enabled on one of the computers. Does anyone know of some good resources related to setting something like that up? One of the computers they are donating is currently running WinXP, the other one they are buying will run Windows Vista. (I’ve recommended running EduBuntu on both, but they may not go with that recommendation.)
I recommended providing a digital camera for students and teachers as well, and encouraging the teacher to setup a blog (on a site like blogger) where they can post and share some student work– on a computer with Internet access not located at the school. I shared Tim Tyson’s words with my friend today, “Meaningfulness comes from connectedness,” and we both agreed there are many rich possibilities for learning and interaction between the Oklahoma high school students sending the computer down to Costa Rica and the Costa Rican elementary students. Mobile phone technologies are growing more ubiquitous, as this article from the BBC today indicates. Could those Oklahoma students end up audio-conferencing or even video conferencing with those students in a rural, Costa Rican school later this year? That possibility is more realistic than ever before.
Are there any other software tools or digital computer resources you’d recommend that I pass along to my friend? He and his wife don’t go on their trip till mid-October.
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On this day..
- Join Free @STEMseeds Webinar Saturday Sept 13th at 10:30 am Central - 2014
- Long Term Sub Needed: Positive Tomorrows of Oklahoma City - 2014
- iOS Content Creators Rejoice: iMovie, Pages, Keynote and More FREE on New Devices! - 2013
- Why Playing with Media and Mapping Media Matters - 2013
- Encouraging Pre-Service Educators to Share Work Publicly Online - 2012
- Lessons Learned from WordPress Blog Upgrades - 2012
- Using Film in Any Class - 2011
- Criteria for moderating comments on a viral video - 2009
- The Educational Technology Influence Nexus - 2008
- EduTopia mention - 2007