This page is meant to serve as a reference to various online and “offline” free computer-based educational software packages.
This page was produced on September 5, 2013 and will likely be maintained, but please use the provided links for up-to-date information. Contact us or leave a comment if you have additional suggestions for this list. Together, these packages form the “core” of our education library. Note that this does not yet include advanced technical programs (like programming) although we are looking for free online and offline options
Internet-based educational software packages
There are several excellent computer-based educational software packages that are available online, free of charge.
Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org)
“With a library of over 4,500 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.”
“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project operated by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on an openly editable model.”
GCF Learn Free (http://www.gcflearnfree.org)
“GCFLearnFree.org® creates and provides quality, innovative online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life. By delivering over 750 different lessons to millions of people in over 200 countries and territories ABSOLUTELY FREE, GCFLearnFree.org is a worldwide leader in online education.”
We have used GCFLearnFree in our Computer Training Center for the past four years as core training for Microsoft Windows and Office and have seen hundreds of computer-illiterate students graduate and land jobs in ICT.
GCF offers hundreds courses in technology (All Microsoft Office products, Windows, Apple, Internet, Google, Email, Social Media, and more), Money, Job Development, Everyday Life, English as a Second Language and more.
Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org)
“Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks”. It was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library.”
“CK-12 Foundation provides a library of free online textbooks, videos, exercises, flashcards, and real world applications for over 5000 concepts from arithmetic to science…”
“Hesperian Health Guides is a nonprofit health information and health education source that supports individuals and communities in their struggles to realize the right to health. We develop easy to read materials that are produced in many languages.”
“Offline” computer-based education packages
Since most developing countries can not support the bandwidth requirements of online training, several efforts have been made to make training available “offline”. Note that Hackers For Charity makes copies of these distributions free of charge to anyone in or around Uganda. Contact us for more details.
“RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) are low-cost, scalable deployments of the best open-source software and creative commons educational content available. … RACHEL is free to download, install, manage and replicate and can be deployed in nearly any environment with minimal hardware.”
Rachel includes offline copies of Khan Academy (videos only), Wikipedia for Schools, an e-book library from Project Gutenberg, CK-12 textbooks, Hesperian health guides and more, all for use “offline”.
RACHEL offers two “official packages” and two “spin-off” packages:
RACHEL USB (http://rachel.worldpossible.org/howto.html): This is a distribution of RACHEL that can be installed to a 32GB USB stick. It can then be inserted into a Windows-based machine and run.
RACHEL PI (http://pi.worldpossible.org): This is a distribution of RACHEL designed to run on an inexpensive low-power Linux based computer called a Raspberry Pi.
Khan Academy on a Stick (http://khan.mujica.org): This is a Khan Academy solution that includes almost 2,000 selected Khan Academy video lectures on Math and Science” that can be installed to a 32GB USB stick. It can then be inserted into a Windows-based machine and run.
KA-Pi (http://pi.mujica.org): Like the “Khan Academy on a Stick” distribution above, designed to run on the Raspberry Pi.
KA Lite is an offline version of Khan Academy that runs on almost anything. The goals of the project, as stated on the project’s website are:
- Bringing the online education revolution to rural communities.
- Synchronize and manage your organization’s deployments centrally.
- Quick installation, minimal system requirements, and simple to use.
- Students can earn points, teacher can view coach reports.
- Choose which videos to download, and languages for subtitles.
Ka-Lite is a much-upgraded version of the Khan academy content that’s available as part of the RACHEL package. Unlike RACHEL’s Khan distribution which is made to be succinct, portable and ptr of a well-rounded package, KA-Lite raises the bar of the Khan material, providing much more than just videos. KA-Lite provides student exercises, tracks the progress of students, provides excellent reporting which can sync to an online server allowing teachers to monitor progress at many schools in one interface. It also provides for multi-language support through subtitles and allows schools to download missing videos when they have an internet connection.
Ka-Lite can can be installed on Linux, Windows, or Mac or devices like the Raspberry Pi, and each device can participate in all functionality.
GCF Learn Free (http://www.gcflearnfree.org)
From http://www.gcflearnfree.org/educators/faq: “We also offer a downloadable version of GCFLearnFree.org for organizations that aren’t able to access the Internet. We update this version every summer; however, as we regularly launch new educational content throughout the year, this version is quickly outdated. If you do not have access to the Internet at all, please contact Jessica Meadows (email@example.com), who will work with you to gain access to the downloadable version of our website.”
Edubuntu is a Linux (Ubuntu) based package that makes a wealth of free educational material available in one package. Most often distributed as a bootable DVD than can be used to run or install the system on any Mac or PC with an Intel or AMD processor. The package contains program suitable for ages K-university.
From the Edubuntu web site: “We are students, teachers, parents and hackers who believe that learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them… Our aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain.”
“GCompris is an educational software suite comprising numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10. It is part of the GNU project.”
GCompris is included in the standard Edubuntu package, but can also be installed stand-alone on Linux, Windows or Mac Computers.
“Tux4Kids develops high-quality software for kids, with the goal of combining fun and learning into an irresistable package. Our software is free: you can download it for use at home or onto hundreds of computers in a school. We support all major platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, and Linux/Unix.”
Includes TuxPaint (painting/drawing), TuxMath and TuxType (typing tutor). These are more than great games. They are great learning tools.
CDs for the 3rd World (“CD3WD”, http://www.cd3wd.com/CD3WD)
Quoted from Lifehacker.com, “The world economy has collapsed. There is no internet or Wikipedia. How do you rebuild society? CD3WD [was built] to help spur the improvement of the infrastructure of third world nations by giving them first-world technology and knowledge for free. Think of it as a repository of some of the most useful human knowledge and technology.”
Everything from agriculture to technology is addressed and is available free of charge in a series of “ISO” files meant to be burned to disk and wither played in a DVD player or loaded onto a computer.
This collection is a bit odd, but worth mentioning. The reason I say this is odd is because of the odd format (ISO’s) and the odd content (largely PDF files on a myriad of subjects). However, I can see uses for bits and pieces of this in the third world (labor skills, agriculture, etc) but the format makes it very hard to find what you’re looking for. At 30+ GB, it’s something nice to “have around”, although much of the Wikipedia and Kahn Academy content is available in much nicer packages (RACHEL, KA-Lite). However, if there is a nuclear holocaust or a zombie apocalypse, the folks that have this in their bunkers will be rebuilding civilization for us.
I have summarized this description content below. Note that this information may change. See http://www.cd3wd.com/CD3WD for the latest updates.
The first set of disks are for computer use. They contain PDF files of instruction on various topics.
- #1001 – medicine, health, water, sanitation
- #1002 – Material from practical action, ITDG, appropedia, etc..
- #1003 – Vocational education, construction, metalwork, electrical trades, auto mechanics, woodwork, metalwork, etc
- #1004: Agriculture 1 of 2
- #1005: Agriculture 2 of 2, Portuguese titles, French and Spanish titles 1 of 2
- #1006: Upgrade disk, French and Spanish titles 2 of 2
The following 25 disks have dual purpose. Some are meant to be burned and watched on a TV with a DVD player (marked as “TV”). Others marked as “PC” are meant to be played on a computer. Others marked “MIX” include content for both TV and PC. Each set contains tens of thousands of pages of printed content, hundreds of e-books, or dozens of hours of video. They include most of the material on the above disks.
- 10063 (TV) SME, VET, Vocational skills (75k pages)
- 10064 (TV) Agriculture 1/2
- 10065 (TV): Agriculture 2/2
- 10066 (TV): French, Portuguese, English, Spanish Material
- 10038 (MIX): Medical
- 10032 (MIX): Self-employment / urban – sme skills
- 10092 (MIX): Khan Academy Physics disk 2/2 (PAL)
- 133: cnx.org College / University content: maths, physics, electronics, management, etc
- 136: Cambridge exam board uk IGCSE, O A AS past exam papers, 2001-2011
- 1115 (MIX): Khan Academy Maths (PAL)
- 1116 (MIX): Khan Academy Maths (PAL)
- 1117 (MIX): Khan Academy Maths (PAL)
- 1118 (MIX): Khan Academy Maths (PAL)
- 1124 (MIX): Khan Academy Maths (PAL)
- 1149 (MIX): Khan Academy science – physics, chemistry, biology (PAL)
- 10029 (MIX): All textbooks for all subjects grades 10-12
CD3WD_NOVELS_SET (recommended addition primary/junior or high school set).
- 10035 (MIX): Wikipedia for schools (PC) + 40% for TV
- 10071 (TV): Project Gutenberg, 299 classic novels
- 100701 (PC): 6,000 classic novels (html format)
- 100702 (PC): 10,000 classic novels (html format)
CD3WD_PRIMARY_JUNIOR_SET (Recommended addition: CD3WD_NOVELS_SET)
- 1101 (TV): Khan Academy Junior Maths
- 1103 (TV): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1106 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1108 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1109 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1111 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1112 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Maths (PAL)
- 1148 (MIX): Khan Academy Junior Science, physics, chemistry, biology (PAL)
- 10028 (MIX): All textbooks for all subjects grade 9
- 100212 (TV): “Read count and tell the time” (PAL)
- 100213 (TV): “Read count and tell the time” (NTSC)