If you were to ask a die-hard Windows-based PC user, then you’d probably hear that Linux is a thing of the past, irrelevant, and nothing to dig into. In reality, though, the open source network is alive and well and provides a number of opportunities, programs, and advantages when it comes to education software.
There are a number of schools that are beginning to switch over from their current systems and formats in favor of Linux and one of the key reasons has to do with cost. Due to the open source nature of the Linux operating system and the software that is developed to support it, it is, for the most part free.
Of course, there are certain applications that will cost money, or a donation, but that all depends on the particular nature of the application or software program. The free nature of the open source Linux operating system, though, should be appealing to any number of schools and school districts across the country. With Windows or Max licensing fees that can erode just about any budget, just the core nature of Linux as an operating system would be a welcome change.
Why is Linux a Good Idea for Educational Programs?
One of the key reasons why Linux based educational programs would be a powerful concept for schools is the open source format of the programs themselves. One thing that separates Linux from other operating systems and programming platforms is that users can download, modify, and then redistribute the programs themselves. This would make them easily modifiable for each school so that the programs suit their particular needs and curriculum without having to worry about copyright infringement, licensing, or other issues commonly associated with the more ‘popular’ platforms.
Also, open source software programs are generally programmed by people who use it. This means that where many school systems have to sift through certain programs to try and find what may work well for them, with Linux educational software programs, this isn’t the same process.
Schools would be able to seek out and choose from a wide range of programs that were likely coded by another school system or teacher with a specific goal in mind. Then the school can download the program, try it, and determine if it is something that would work for their particular needs and if not, it can be uninstalled with a few simple clicks of the mouse.
The same cannot be stated when it comes to Mac or Windows based programs. These would have to be purchased and often school districts would be guided to ‘buy in bulk,’ meaning that they would be encouraged to ‘save money’ by purchasing orders that would fill all of the available computers within their district. With Linux, teachers, administrators, and even students can take the program for a test run, in a manner of speaking, before determining whether it might be something that could suit their educational needs.
What about the Programs that Are Available?
With regard to the various educational programs that are available for Linux, there are a number of different websites that are devoted entirely to promoting educational software for Linux based systems. The KDE Education Project, Schoolforge.net, and Kid’s Software for Linux are just a few of the websites that are devoted to promoting education software resources for children of all ages.
There are math tutoring programs and games that teach children the fundamentals, and even the more advanced concepts of math. You can find flashcard style programs that make it easier to learn and retain lessons, and programs that teach about history, typing, English, and a host of other skills and lessons that are commonly used in most school systems.
The Private and Business Sector Problem for Linux
One of the major hurdles that Linux has had for many years within the public eye has been that, at least in many business applications, there has been little traction for the operating system or the software programs, at least in a commercially viable sense. Windows, IBM, and Mac have invested considerable amounts of time, money, and other resources to make themselves more appealing to the average business computer user and while there are many private Linux users, keeping up with the changing technology has meant these users would have to wait for other developers to create complementary programs.
The same is not true for education software. There have been a wide array of individuals as well as school professionals, including teachers, who have been using Linux and the programs that they have developed are rich in resources and provide a wealth of opportunities for students of many age ranges.
The best aspect about Linux educational software programs is that they don’t require licensing and they can be modified. In this modern age of education, that can be an indispensable asset.