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OSX Educational Applications?
June 2, 2005 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I run a computer lab in an elementary school. I use a very few programs to teach a lot of important skills- mostly about thinking, writing, and organizing one's thoughts and time, and only secondarily 'teaching kids to use technology' (as if such a thing was actually necessary.) We're getting a bunch of new macs next year, so we'll be migrating to OSX. I tend to hate 'kids software' and prefer using well designed adult software. What essential OSX app.s are cool, simple, and worth using with kids?

OK, right now I'm using a 1995 version of Kid Pix (heads and shoulders better for my purposes than any newer version), Appleworks WP, DR, DB and SS, Simpletext (for HTML), Powerpoint, Inspiration... that's about it. I'm eager to step outside of my comfort zone and would love to hear ideas from non-educators.
posted by carterk to Education (8 answers total)
 
[i am a student at and work with IT in a rich white kid K-12]
The Geometer's Sketchpad is heavily used by the math department. Also Fathom , although I've never used it (it's another math one)
I am a huge fan of OmniGraffle , and my boss seems to be confident in its applications with students. It can be used for flow charts, as well as rudimentary desktop publishing.
posted by michaelkuznet at 9:16 PM on June 2, 2005


Civilization III

Seriously, I started (well, with Civ2) in 4th grade, and it tought me more about the general progression of technology and history than any class ever did. I sucked at it beyond belief, but that wasn't the point. It was invaluable when I started learning history later - it provided the framework I needed to fit knowledge into, something which I find necessary but never seems to be taught.
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:23 PM on June 2, 2005


OmniOutliner -- from the same folks who make Graffle -- is a terrific learning tool. The most productive high volume note-taking I've ever done is with OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle side-by-side, and the outliner is a first class writing tool to boot. I love Notational Velocity for taking quick, small notes and recording scraps of information, but Outliner is fantastic for use during lectures and for organizing thoughts.

Apple's Keynote/Pages/iLife killer combo is quite good for various creative endeavors, and doesn't get in the way like Powerpoint does.

The kids might get a kick out of using SubEthaEdit as both a standalone text editor as well as finding ways to use the Rendezvous-enabled collaborative editing.

Don't forget OSX's Unix underpinnings, too. The dc calculator is a very, very useful tool and is built right into the OS along with the usual wide variety of scripting languages and text processing tools. It may be ancient, but do not underestimate the power of the Unix toolchain.

And while you're ready to try new and interesting things, also keep in mind that most if not all of your 1995 software will run quite happily in OSX's "Classic" subsystem.

Frankly, assuming you get systems with bundled Graffle and Outliner (not all Apple systems include them) and a recentish iLife, with a little creativity you can probably proceed to use the systems without additional software of any kind.
posted by majick at 9:50 PM on June 2, 2005


How about teaching them some basic computer programming with logo? What kid can resist drawing pictures with a turtle?

There should be a Mac version here:
http://http.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/
posted by MotorNeuron at 12:37 AM on June 3, 2005


If you install Squeak then kids of all abilities can do all kinds of stuff including some cool but straightforward programming. Linked site has tons of info about using Squeak with kids/in education.
posted by cushie at 2:01 AM on June 3, 2005


Comic Life might be worth a look.
posted by malevolent at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2005


(This is not intended to be an advertisement.)

I work at a company that publishes games for the Mac, and we have several titles including Civ3 that may/ may not be helpful. if you're looking to purchase multiple licenses, contact us through the website - http://www.macsoftgames.com - we often make special arrangements for schools.
posted by Miss Bitchy Pants at 8:51 AM on June 3, 2005


Comic Life as mentioned above is absolutely perfect for this.

Also, iLife.
posted by TTIKTDA at 7:49 PM on June 4, 2005


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