Nelson Mandela said it best:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
And since we’re trying to change the world here, we’re getting deeply involved in computer-aided education projects. Working alongside other teams, we’ve come up with what we call our “Educational Software Core”, a special selection of free software that when properly deployed, can have a deep impact, meet the needs of both educators and students and.. you got it.. change the world.
We’re hackers. We’re technologists. What in the world is this education “thing” about? The obvious answer is that education got us where we are today. It laid the groundwork for every technological advancement we enjoy (and exploit!) and provided a path to a great hobby, a great job, a great community and so much more. The less obvious answer is that great Mandella quote. We at HFC want to change the world. This is one way to do it. The much longer answer about how we got this deep into education projects can be found here, in this post, Why Education?
Working alongside the RACHEL and Ka-Lite teams, we’ve come up with what I call our “Educational Software Core”, a group of software that when properly deployed can have an impact and meet the needs of educators on the ground.
There’s a lot of free educational software available. You can find a complete list of the software we’ve had experience with here, in a rather detailed document entitled the “Free Computer-based Educational Software Roundup“.
The “Educational Software Core” takes all the best of this free software and makes it available in one package to schools with no Internet connection. The “Core” includes:
- Khan Academy with exercises, tracking and MUCH more thanks to the Ka-Lite team.
- Wikipedia for Schools (thanks to RACHEL team)
- Technology training, English as a Second Language and more (thanks to GCFLearnFree)
- Well-rounded activities for K-3 students (thanks to GCompris)
- Solid content, activities and software for K-12+ (thanks to Edubuntu)
- An e-book library from Project Gutenberg (thanks to RACHEL team)
- Textbooks from CK-12 (thanks to RACHEL team)
- Great typing, paint and math games (thanks to Tux4Kids)
- Village health guides from Hesperian (thanks to RACHEL team)
Our plan is to deploy this core system as an Edubuntu operating system installed along with a local or server-based installation of both RACHEL and KA-Lite on specially designed hardware platforms.
So what’s next, now that we have a cool pile of software? Glad you asked. Specifically our goals are to:
- Provide appropriate hardware platforms to run this stuff in all sorts of environments. Our “Pelican Pi” and “Loaded Chromebook” are two great examples.
- Provide volunteers and resources to give the above teams assistance if they need it
- Find ways to make the platforms easy to rebuild and hard to mess up
- Find ways to update content easily
- Find ways to keep in touch with deployed schools using limited Internet connections that only allow updates to be pushed to our central servers