14 August 2007

Portuguese Ministry of Education Goes Free

The Portuguese Ministry of Education is doing the sensible thing and giving away a CD full of free (Windows) software to 1.6 million students, saving itself (and the taxpayers) around 300 million Euros. Nothing amazing about that, perhaps, since it's a sensible thing to do (not that everyone does it).

What's more interesting, for me, at least, is the set of software included on the CD:

* OpenOffice.org
* Firefox
* Thunderbird
* Inkscape

These are pretty much the cream of the free software world, and show the increasing depths of desktop apps. Also interesting are the specifically educational programs included:

* Freemind and CmapTools
* Celestia
* Geogebra
* Modellus

Some of these were new to me, notably Geogebra:
GeoGebra is a free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for schools that joins geometry, algebra and calculus.

and Modellus (which isn't actually free software, just free):

Modellus enables students and teachers (high school and college) to use mathematics to create or explore models interactively.

It's always surprised me that that more use isn't made of free software in education, since the benefits are obvious: by pooling efforts, duplication is eliminated, and the quality of tools improved. (Via Erwin Tenhumberg.)


Anonymous said...

Great news, I wish more governments would do this. I'm a big fan of mind-mapping and Freemind's a pretty neat tool to do just that.

Never heard of any of the other software on the second list apart from FreeMind but it's good to know that such software exists.

OpenSource & free software rocks.

Glyn Moody said...

I've not tried FreeMind, so thanks for the feedback on that.

Ramon said...

I am of CmapTools -- concept mapping is much more powerful than mindmapping. I'm glad for the portuguese students that they are including such quality software.

Anonymous said...

I used to use FreeMind but find CmapTools' collaboration capabilities a lot more powerful. I understand all schools in Panama are installing CmapTools. Good to see this type of decisions by governments.