How One Teacher Built a Computer Lab for Free
A regular blog participant sent this 6-minute video. It’s a story about a teacher, Robert Litt in Oakland, California, who taught in a poor school with no computers and no money. Listen and get excited by the possibilities as he explains how he set up a whole computer lab for free! He uses OPEN SOURCE – which is the term for free online software. WordPress (which is what we use for this free blog) is based on this, too. This sixth grade teacher acquires used computers and installs a free Open Source operating system called Linux instead of Windows. He also mentions Ubuntu, which is another FREE (Open Source) operating system. A teacher in the comments of the original post also suggested Edubuntu; it is specifically designed for Educational establishments.
Litt also uses free Open Source software called Open Office – it’s essentially the same as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
Compatible with other major office suites, Apache OpenOffice is free to download, use, and distribute. Download it now — for FREE! — and get:
- Writer [comparable to Microsoft Word] a word processor you can use for anything from writing a quick letter to producing an entire book.
- Calc [comparable to Microsoft Excel] a powerful spreadsheet with all the tools you need to calculate, analyse, and present your data in numerical reports or sizzling graphics.
- Impress [comparable to Microsoft Powerpoint] the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations.
- Draw lets you produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations.
- Base [comparable to Microsoft Access] lets you manipulate databases seamlessly. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, all from within Apache OpenOffice.
- Math lets you create mathematical equations with a graphic user interface or by directly typing your formulas into the equation editor.
With a fully open development process, Apache OpenOffice has nothing to hide – the product stands or falls on its quality, reliability and reputation — and it is easy to use:
- the software looks and feels familiar and is instantly usable by anyone who has used a competitive product
- it’s easy to change to Apache OpenOffice – the software reads all major competitors’ files
- further, it’s possible to run Open Office on Windows and concurrently with the Microsoft Office suite until everyone is completely comfortable working solely in Open Office
- few language barriers – if it’s not yet available in your language, the chances are it will be soon
- Apache OpenOffice is supported by a global community of friendly volunteers, only too happy to provide assistance to newcomers and advanced users alike
Apache OpenOffice is free software:
- you may download Apache OpenOffice completely free of any license fees
- install it on as many PCs as you like [it is also available for Macs]
- use it for any purpose – private, educational, government and public administration, commercial …
- pass on copies free of charge to family, friends, students, employees, etc.
Apache OpenOffice is standards compliant
- certified by OSI as open-standard compliant
- the first software package in the world to use OASIS OpenDocument Format (ISO 26300) as its native file format.
Comcast rolled out its Internet Essentials program nationwide in 2011, offering low-income families in its service territory $10/month Internet connections and access to $150 computers.
Any family with at least one child who qualifies for Free-or-Reduced-Price Meals at public schools can subscribe to a low-speed (1.5Mbps) Comcast Internet connection for $9.95 a month. Comcast guarantees that it won’t raise the price and offers the plan without equipment rental or activation fees. NOTE: Subscribers cannot have “an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment,” and they can’t have had Comcast Internet in the last 90 days.
Comcast has agreed to sign up families to the program for at least three years, and it also promises to provide free Internet and computer training to those who need it.
Read the rest of the article here. OpenOffice is the perfect software — FREE and up-to-date — to use with this offer.
Expanding the conversation, there are many of us who agree with GNU.org in that schools should not teach dependence, so free software is the only kind they should ever teach. Certainly the cost of expensive licensing fees could be put to better use elsewhere. As Robert Litt noted in his 6-minute YouTube video:
- “In my model, the lead person takes the lead through a change in consciousness, awareness, and belief, not an acquisition of expertise.”
- “Obsolescence is only a lack of imagination.” [Alameda County (CA) Computer Recyclers]
- “Discarded computers are our most wasted educational resource.”
Side Note: Have you ever checked out our links on the side panel of the blog? We offer several online opportunities for learning and lesson plans for FREE. A few of our favorites include:
iCivics: In 2009, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance. Today iCivics comprises a national leadership team of state supreme court justices, secretaries of state, and educational leaders and a network of committed volunteers. Carol Hunstein, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court is the Georgia rep to the board.
BrainPop: BrainPOP creates animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. Our award-winning online educational resources include BrainPOP Jr. (K-3), BrainPOP, BrainPOP Español, and, for English language learners, BrainPOP ESL. BrainPOP is also home to GameUp, a new, free educational games portal for the classroom.
ck-12: Free educational resources. Standards-aligned and customizable lesson plans for teachers and/or direct instruction for students encompassing all subjects.
Colorin Colorado: A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners.
Khan Academy: With over 3,300 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, Khan Academy is on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.
Stellarium: Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.
Add your own favorite free online learning resources in the comments!