Categories
Conferences

On Making Software Accessible

I’ve been listening to the NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) podcasts available free via iTunes. David Thornburg, leading thinker and educator, spoke in a presentation titled, “Open Minds, Open Education, and a View of Open Culture.” The focus was on 1:1 programs for students and open source software.

The quote that jumped out at me was near the beginning:

“Singe platform software is anti-child.”

Pow. Ouch. Absolutely right. I’ll be the first to admit I have a personal preference for some software apps that are on one platform but not another (e.g. Visual Communicator and iLife). However, anytime a piece of software, be it Windows-only, Mac-only or even Linux-only, is used with students, it will prevent the home use of that software by the student if they have another platform at home.

To that end, open source, cross-platform software solutions that students can download and use at home for free will do more to break down the walls of technology than pretty much any other technique we can try. In the best case scenario, time using technology in a class setting is far less than in a home setting (unless in a 1 to 1 program). If the software is accessible anywhere, the benefits go up dramatically.

This year we are installing many more software programs that are open source cross platform (OSCP?). Two examples are OpenOffice, much like the Microsoft Office suite, and GIMP, which is very similar to Photoshop. I plan to make a concentrated effort to help our students realize the power of these accessible programs.

Categories
Conferences Video

Bravo, Ladies!

Three students from Heim recently won the Generation YES Go Green video contest. In the contest, students were directed to produce a video about how our school is Green and/or how it could be better at it. In the GenYES spirit, all aspects had to be student-driven. I can tell you without a doubt it was, and doing so proves how much our students can do given the right resources.

Once Caroline was approached about this contest by Mrs. Merlino, she immediately enlisted Mary and Kelly to join in. The only time I heard from them is when they needed a resource, or some guidance in how to do something. They did it all, and a fine job they did.

See the winning video at the Generation YES site here, along with the other talented student winners from California. Their videos will be featured at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio June 29-July 2. Bravo, Ladies!