Saturday, November 21, 2009

List of freeware & almost freeware for educational purposes

From day to day I often wonder about exactly how much of the freebies on offer are of any use to teachers.

Having found some pretty decent downloadable freeware programs over the years and having used them I am in a big zone of safety.

As I browse the net and look at ICT in Education blogs from about the world, I am constantly reminded fo how these once downloadable applications are now being offered as live and online without the need for any downloads! Sounds great and I really want to embrace this modus operandi, but I have a very deep unease within me about how fragile these sites might actually be. Day by day I expect them to fold even moreso now in these recessionary times. I hope I am proved wrong.

With the freeware & downloadable options like Gradeway Teacher's Suite once you have it, you have it forever with no worries about when it might disappear.

I am slowly falling in love with three online freeware applications that just have to be used by teachers who are seriousabout integrating ICT into all aspects of learning. Of course there are more applications I already use on a daily basis like the Moodle and the subject / department blog but these three newbies are entertaining me greatly.

1. Engrade -
A wonderful way to record and keep track of student assessments and tests. Fully customisable and totally online it is the easiest way for teachers to have a gradebook in operation. Like Moodle, your students have to register for your class and once registered a generates access code is given to them so that they have access 24/7 to their academic history and performance. It also prints out individual student reports that can be reviewed at a parent-teacher meeting and then given to the parents to take away for their own files. This is usually greeted with significant levels of thanks and praise!! Let's face it Teacher need that stuff every now and again.

2. PlanbookEdu -
Great for having an online lesson planner. Comes free with basic functionality but for $20 you have full functionality for a year. Now that to me is a little more secure than freeware but pricewise it is a close to freeware as you will get for something that is as good as this. You can attach files to various different lessons and use the calendar to plan ahead on the academic year. I like the fact also that you can print your plan book straight from the browser.

By the way I have paid the €14 for a years access! Cheap at half the price says me.

3. Bambuster -
A very nice way to get your videos up online as they happen! Don't know what the ICT policy has to say about live streaming recordings from your classrom but I think it is a great way to keep kids who are absent informed as to what is going on. Omagine being able to sign in to your Maths class from the sick bed and keep an eye on proceedings.
More importnatly you are building up valuable resources if there are topics like those in organic chemistry that are too time consuming or glassware intensive for general experimentation. next best thing is a recording from the lab of a demonstration of said experiment.
Need to practice on this one so will have a look at it here again later.

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