One of the goals of any organization is to reduce costs wherever possible. Using free and open source software is an ideal way of achieving that goal. Here are 5 high quality and widely popular software packages that every school should be using.
Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments. It is the most widely used learning platform, with over 79 million users world-wide.
It comes with several modules, including activity modules (assignment submissions, quizzes, discussion forums etc.), user management, reports, gradebooks, calendar, course management and more. You can enable or disable features to suit your particular needs. It is a cross-platform web-based software, so it can accessed on any operating system and is mobile friendly too.
Moodle is a great way of getting teachers and students to interact on a centralized platform, and is the true embracement of E-Learning. Learn more about Moodle here.
Edubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu OS and is designed to be an operating system that contains all the best free software available in education. It is developed in collaboration with teachers and educators worldwide and is easy to install and to maintain.
Edubuntu includes several learning programs for various subjects such as math, geography, science, languages, as well as educational games designed for kids (as young as 2 years old) and teenagers. It has LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) support, an extremely reliable software which is ideal for a classroom or lab setup running several computers (thin or fat-clients) from a single server.
You can manage and monitor what your students are doing via a management tool called Epoptes. It comes with LibreOffice used for document processing and is compatible with other office suites, such as Microsoft Office.
Koha is an integrated library management system. It is very easy to use and manage for both library staff and patrons, which has contributed to it being one of the most popular library software solutions in the world (it was in fact, the first free and open source library system ever).
It comes loaded with useful modules for cataloguing, circulation, searching, reports, notices, acquisitions and more. You can even generate your own barcodes, print spine labels, design library cards and more using its comprehensive tool set. It has a web-based interface that makes it cross-platform compatible and mobile friendly.
Koha is a huge budget saver because it helps your librarians to do a lot more work without the need to employ more human resources. Learn more about Koha here.
FreeRADIUS is an open-source software that helps you to manage your network. It is highly configurable and is widely used (even by huge companies with millions of users, such as Internet Service Providers) but a basic set up can help you to implement simple but secure enterprise Wi-Fi security on your network.
For example, most organisations use pre-shared keys to restrict access to their wireless networks. But such a setup is not very secure since users can simply share the Wi-Fi password with
anyone. With FreeRADIUS, you can automatically generate individual usernames, passwords or pins, or use MAC address authentication. You can restrict users to specific network resources and manage bandwidth usage and speed easily.
These features come in handy in a school set up, where you may have different network-access rules for your staff, students and visitors.
5 Word Press
Having a school website is no longer an option, but a must – for the simple reason that we are in the 21st century. A website can boost your online presence, helping you to market your school brand. It’s a convenient way to inform parents and visitors of events, introduce prospective students and potential donors to your history, and connect your alumni.
But not having a website at all is better than a slow, clunky and poorly designed one. However, a smooth, aesthetically pleasing website is easier said than done – the fact is, web-designing is not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s where the genius of Word Press comes in.
Word Press is the most popular content management system in the world. Chances are, every time you go on to the internet, you’ll visit a website built on Word Press (our website is a proud example!). It is simple to setup and even simpler to use, and it comes with thousands of free and premium themes and plugins. Word Press makes it simple and easy to create a sleek, fast and functional website.
As they like to say, Word Press is both ‘free and priceless at the same time’. Find out more about it here.
These open source software packages not only compete with pricey, proprietary systems but also outdo them in many respects and so demand serious consideration.
They require very little in the way of hardware – you can use old desktops with as little as 250MB RAM to get going. Your in-house IT staff should be able to get you up and running with these software fairly easily. The internet is awash with how-to’s (which is another strength of open-source software, you’ll never run out of documentation and community help). You can also outsource your needs to support companies like BiblioTech (we are the Koha experts!).
Do you agree with our list? Are there other open source software packages that you would include? Let us know in the comments section below!