Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chapter 4: It's a Free Software World After All

My sincerest apologies for not having my blog post done yesterday. While certainly not an excuse, I just got engaged--I've been so excited planning my wedding that I lost track of time! Again, I'm sorry. I will have my post completed by tomorrow.


  1. NO WORRIES... that is the beauty of asynchronous education.... we can access it anywhere any time..... just post when can

  2. Response - Chapter 4

    I too love all the free web searches and email. The free storage and the free services. The price we pay are in data collection and adds. Google have made a very successful business from this.

    I use many open source resources but my favorite is Moodle. Without the shared drive and willingness of a great many contributors many of these open source projects would not exist. I increasingly turn to open source and free web 2.0 tools all the time. Just this year my budget was cut by 90%......I am almost exclusively using simulations for labs (no materials) and relying on the web and free online texts (which I prefer). I could not imagine what I would do without these resources......

    I know as a district we are moving away from the licensed programs (FINALLY) and are moving to the free and open source resources of web 2.0.

    On a related note the GNU movement (free software) is quite refreshing... Copyleft (hehe Copyright)

    I found the four essential freedoms of GNU to be interesting.

    GNU has four kinds of freedom for the software:

    Freedom to run the program
    Freedom to access the code
    Freedom to redistribute the program to anyone
    Freedom to improve the software

    From Wikipedia (

    All I can say about Ning is that I used to use it. I had number of cool student project that used it. Loved it. Now that I have to pay for bye, bye Ning.

    I use Creative Commons resources all the time and try to encourage my students to do so as well.

  3. Chapter 4

    It's an interesting and exciting trend, particularly for educators, that an increasing number of companies are offering free online services. Throughout chapter four we learn about the history of the Free and Open Source Software movements and how they have influenced computer culture as we know it. As a result, the opportunity for learning has increased dramatically.

    Bonk makes note that despite the availability of free products, "education institutions have not really focused on the use of free software for teaching and learning benefits". I have seen this within my own school department, as there has been a reluctance to using resources found within the cloud. While some of this avoidance seems to be due to lack of knowledge of the free products available, much of it stems from fear. The decision makers are nervous about any type of student data, work or potentially identifying student information (like photos) being uploaded to cloud-based storage systems--thus out of their local control. Luckily, however, an exciting revolution is occurring within my school system and restrictions are slowly and cautiously being lifted.

    This concept of free online resources brings up another interesting, and perhaps more important discussion point, however. While the "open educational world" is designed for anyone, anywhere, anytime, in practice it's obvious that a large number of individuals worldwide will be left to fall behind. According to the International Telecommunications Union (, the developed world has an estimated 74 Internet users per 100 inhabitants, while the developing world has an estimated 26 users per 100 people. Within the United States alone, 20% of households do not have access to the Internet. The New York Times has an interesting article on "The New Digital Divide" ( which raises concerns about the quality of Internet connections that various demographics within the US have access to. Susan Crawford, author of the article, states "While we still talk about 'the' Internet, we increasingly have two separate access marketplaces: high-speed wired and second-class wireless. High-speed access is a superhighway for those who can afford it, while racial minorities and poorer and rural Americans must make do with a bike path".

    Out of everything I could have discussed regarding chapter 4, I bring up this issue of the digital divide, as I feel it's important to keep in mind while discussing an "Open" Internet world. In all too many cases, it's only "open" for those who can afford it--the rest, as a result, are at risk for falling further behind than ever.

  4. My district switched to NeoOffice after Apple ended Apple Works. Now we can use GoogleDocs but not all the students have gmail accounts. That is up to the individual classroom teachers.
    Some companies offer their products free for educators and students. One is Autodesk. They can not be downloaded for classroom use, only individually, but this is a fabulous opportunity as this software is very pricey.