What are the software tools that we need to teach our students? I believe we can not be limited to just a productivity suite, we need a range of tools that we can use to enhance our students learning and engage them in a variety of activities. Here is my list of tool categories and a selection. The ones in Bold are FOSS (Free or open source):
- Productivity suite – this is a word processor, presentation tool (slide style), Data processing tool (Spreadsheet) – this could be iWorks, MS Office or Open Office
- Image editing tool - alter and edit existing images and pictures – there is a wide selection of tools from companies like adobe, Corel or OSS products like The GIMP
- Graphics tool – this is a tool that allows me to create graphics – this can also be an image editor too (See above) add in Paint.net, Tux paint etc
- Mind mapping tool – these are brilliant tools often called graphical organisers – examples are Mind manager, Inspiration or OSS tools like Freemind and C-Map
- Web development tools – this could be a simple text editor or a more complex html tool – there is the standard Adobe Dreamweaver or OSS tools like KompoZer
- Video editor – Most operatings systems come with a basic video editor like iMovie and moviemaker, but these are limited.
- Audio editor - Mac has a beauty in garage band, and microsoft’s offering sound recorder is very poor. For me I like Audacity
- Media player – lots of flavours here, but you want a couple to cover all of the different codec – I quite like VLC
- Internet browser - A wide selection all have good and bad points I use IE, Firefox and Opera
- VoIP Client – Skype – what a stunner
- Communication tools - these are your email clients – Most OSes come with a simple version like Outlook express I like First class but its much more than just a email client
- Instant messaging tools – your choice of course – I use the First class IM tool and Skype
- Desk top publishing tools - Some are powerful and well respected and others are we friendly but not great – my preference is trhe OSS tool scribus
- CD/DVD creation tools
- Archiving tool – Winzip or even the windows archive tool
- GIS tools (GIS = Geographical Information systems) – got to love Google earth
- Animation tools – I like SAM from TUFT University – Free and very cool. I guess you could include Microsoft photostory in this category too.
- Comic creation tools - My favourite is plasq’s comic life but there are some online alternatives
- programming tools – I like and use VB.Net 2008 express, Game maker, Marvin
- project management tools - the OSS tools openproj and ganttproject are my favourites here
- PDF reader and creator. For my reader I can go past Adobe Acrobat Reader. For my creator – open office does this natively and cutepdf does the rest
Looking at this list most categories have a FOSS (Free or open source – these are in Bold) alternative. These are worth considering .
So what is missing and what could you add to a list of tools we need.