So what educational freeware (windows) would you recommend?
February 3, 2005 5:34 PM   Subscribe

So what educational freeware (windows) would you recommend?

My kids school has asked me to assemble some programs, hopefully GPL but, at least freeware that would be suitable for a training laboratory. I'm thinking of including some of the following: Celestia, Artrage (for older artists), tuxpaint (for younger ones), and open office. But, I'm really sure that I'm missing some great titles in a sea of great (and terrible) software. Particularly, I'm looking for an easy IDE to attract some of the would be coders whom could take a little direction (like we did) and fly on their own... I'm thinking StarLogo.
posted by Dean_Paxton to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just end up getting "reader rabbit" and the like used on ebay for 5-7 bucks a pop. There isn't a lot of specifically good educational freeware out there. At least, none that I've found.

Wait---you've gotta check out "Squeak". It's an IDE and is kind of like third generation Logo, if that makes any sense. will get you started. It's a wee sluggish on my circa 1999 machine, but looks very cool. Gamemaker 6.0 might be fun and educational too.
posted by mecran01 at 11:41 PM on February 3, 2005

Fan-created Lego CAD is the first thing that comes to mind. My home PC is packed full of Freeware and Open Source stuff for Windows (including most of what you've mentioned already). I'll let you know if I find anything else that would be specially good for kids.

PS: ┬┐Would simple video editors / composers / FX machines be relevant?
posted by magullo at 4:27 AM on February 4, 2005

Response by poster: Oh Ebay, that's a great idea... I hadn't even thought of it, thanks mecran01. Squeak is looking pretty good, I'm thinking to offer them both.

PS: ┬┐Would simple video editors / composers / FX machines be relevant?

Yeah, actually it would. I know that there are some new projects starting up that look awesome but, it's too early to consider them yet. Thanks for checking that out for me. I'd love it if you did that for me, so would the kids.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 5:25 AM on February 4, 2005

Maybe Audacity and/or Kristal would be nice. Especially in conjunction with some sounds from Hollow Sun or the like to get started with for some basic multitrack composition.

GIMP for graphics?

GraphCalc may be a bit much for kids but it couldn't hurt. Plug a few demo equations in for to impress them and start them on the road to convergence?
posted by 31d1 at 7:23 AM on February 4, 2005

Best answer: I'm back at home, and here is a list. Please take into account that boths "kid" and "training laboratory" remain a bit nebulous - I've tried to list the programs in order of complexity within each category.


irfanview General bitmap toolbox

Gimp? Maybe too complex, but it doesn't hurt to have a high-end image retouching program laying around.


Lego Cad (for starters, you will only need the Ldraw components and MLCad)

Wings 3D A very simple modeler capable of proffessional results

Terragen A terrain modeler. Don't know what that is? Take a peek.

Anim8or To create their version of "Toy Story"



(I keep forgetting that Windows Movie Maker exists, since I never use it)

Avid FreeDV Simple video editor

Wax Simple video composer

Zwei-Stein An older, more complex video composer (it lacks 3D capabilities)

Jahshaka is the newest arrival in this department, but they definetely are at an early stage.


Hammerhead rythm station a simple but cool beatbox

Moonfish The MoonFish is a tracker/groovebox that, according to the developer (Bram Bos), primarily was intended as a joke. The idea behind it is to provide a limited, yet useful tool to stimulate the users' creativity. It is a combination of a tracker and a groovebox that works with 44.1 KHz WAV, RAW and PCM sample files to create drum and melody patterns that can be quickly assembled into songs.

Buzz A modular synthetizer programming environment

Audio editing


posted by magullo at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2005

Response by poster: Awesome! For taking the time to put that list together, thanks again.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2005

Response by poster: lease take into account that boths "kid" and "training laboratory" remain a bit nebulous

Yeah, it is ambiguous. I really didn't provide near enough background information. Sorry about that. Here's (probably) too much:

Well, there are about 25 Dell machines of resonable capacity. The kids in mind come in for 1 hour, each day. They range from Kindergarted to Eighth grade, boys and girls. This came about because I found my two 7th. graders in the class, bored to tears, because they were teaching "Computer Art" with MS Paint.

Now, I don't have any real problems with MS Paint... but, it is the kind of thing I just cringed at. The problem is, my kids have unlimited access to all manner of software and operating systems here. They've accompanied me on many jobs to repair all kinds of equipment. They've even helped me pull LANs. But, the other kids with little or, even limited access and skills, were also pretty bored out of their skulls to. I won't even detail how they were teaching them word processing with notepad. I'll be just thankful they can find a text editor.

This led me to give ArtRage for them, for at least the "Computer Art" part. Then, I was asked for more. I have a very nice collection of stuff myself but, I was hoping that there was some exceptional examples of educational software out there that I had somehow missed.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2005

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