Saturday, March 14, 2009

Software Success

I have been busy for the last two weeks deciding which netbooks we will use for the school trial as well as assessing, evaluating and trialing open source software applications that we can add to the student netbooks. We narrowed the choice to the Intel Classmate 3 and the HP Minibook. HP Minibooks won out because of durability, a 4 year on site warranty, price and features. As for software, there is no end to the amount of free software you can easily download for Ubuntu. Some of the highlights so far Open Office 3, which can save and read in word.doc format, The Gimp, which is an excellent Image manipulation program, iTalc which lets you view and control other computers in your classroom network including seeing what all users are viewing and locking screens. There are just too many more programs to mention here. And yes, there is no need for authentication codes or money. The other pleasant part is that when I couldn't work out how do something using The Gimp, for example, I posted a question on a forum and had solution really quickly. I have never had that kind of success with Microsoft software problems.

To add to this, the process of downloading and installing the software is very simple. Ubuntu uses a Synaptic Packet Manager to manage all downloads. You search for the software you want inside the manager. It looks for the software download site on the internet. It downloads and installs it with one click. Simple.
I only had one major software problem that looked to be unresolved. The school uses Promethean IWBs in all classrooms and I couldn't find Promethean software and drivers to support Ubuntu. If we couldn't get around this it would mean that teachers would have to keep Windows running on their computers so they could use their IWBs. It was the only piece of Windows software that we couldn't do without. I sent a lot of emails everywhere trying to get some help and fortunately Promethean decided to release a Linux version of their software and drivers. I downloaded it easily and so far it works like a charm. So far so good.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Charlie,
    It's great to read about your ICT adventures. I think you are very brave. To be honest, I don't really understand everything you're talking about but I will stay tuned because I know it's important. After being in Vietnam with no IWBs, I am just getting my head around them. We have a Connected Classroom in our school, of which I'm one of the coordinators. If you have one at your school we might be able to link up and talk. I currently have a Year 4 at Avalon PS - a northern beaches school. Best wishes, Kate

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  2. It certainly sounds like teachers are in for a little larger dose of "change" than most were expecting. Oh boy!
    Is it likely that there will be a similar software set up introduced to lower secondary and primary schools to ensure students are guided into the new software?
    Audrey
    from Sandy Beach

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  3. HI Charlie,
    Do you have the matter of Ubuntu resolved. If not, please access PrometheanPlanet,

    http://www.prometheanplanet.com

    Here you will find links to help files and assistance from Promethean applications engineers here in the UK.

    Chris

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  4. Hi Charlie, this all sounds great, but make sure you support those teachers at OLHC school, gifts of quality coffee and other luxuries will be essential to their success.

    Matt
    Teacher(OLHC Yr 5)

    By the way, you would be safe here today, I don't have any issues for you to resolve. I know, a first!

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  5. Dear Charlie,
    Has there been any attempt to add the newer version ActivInspire?
    If so, was it successful?
    Cheers
    Audrey

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