Written By: Caroline Ross
Open Source applications are a great resource for educators not only because they’re free, but many times you can find specific applications for your students needs. Many teachers and schools have embraced the endless opportunities open source has to offer. From reducing administrative costs to promoting student and teacher interaction, instructors around the world are singing its praises. We have created a list of what we think are the best available apps out there and have categorized them into the following: Science, Language, Math, Administrative & Content Management, Interactive & Online Classrooms, Study Aids, Video & Imaging, Music, Multimedia, Geography & History, and Mapping Tools.
Design and facilitate the scientific processes with some of these helpful apps.
1. Stellarium With this app, you can input coordinates for any point on earth and view the night skies for any particular point in time. It’s so accurate, even planetariums have been known to use it.
2. ByoDyn Used by a number of Biology teachers, this app can be used for estimate and analyze the parameters when building biochemical networks.
3. Celestia Like Stellarium, this app lets you view the night skies from earth, but it also lets you fly through 3D space to any place in the universe. It uses actual photographs of planets, asteroids, and other objects, so that you can see what they really look like.
4. Jmol This java based app lets students create diagrams of atoms, molecules, crystals, and more. The site includes a handbook and tutorials for helping you learn how to use the software.
5. Seismic Toolkit (STK) Makes it easier for you and your students to analyze data from seismic events. It includes tools for filtering and plotting data, polarization, and more.
6. Xoscope Turn any Linux PC into a digital oscilloscope for analyzing sound waves. With this tool, you can visualize up to eight channels at once, control the time scale, and make measurements.
7. ProtoMol A framework for molecular dynamics simulation. This app was designed by a scientist to be highly flexible, easily extensible, and to meet high performance demands.
8. Kalzium Contains a plethora of data on the periodic table of the elements. It also solves chemical equations, shows pictures of the elements, and includes a helpful glossary.
9. Step Demonstrate the principles with this physics simulator. Place an object in a scene, add forces like springs or gravity, and see what happens.
10. Space Trajectory Analysis This app lets educators analyze, simulate, and visualize the paths of objects that have been launched into space. It’s currently being used by the European Space Agency and a number of international universities.
Language & Writing
From speaking Chinese to learning phonics, these apps will get your students interested in language and writing in no time.
11. Zkanji Designed to help English speakers learn Japanese, but has a number of uses in the classroom environment. It includes a dictionary, vocabulary lists, a study program, tests, and other helpful features.
12. BingoCardMaker Foreign language instructors often find that a game of Bingo breaks up the monotony of learning new vocabulary words. This app makes it easy to generate random cards from a set of images.
13. 80 Million Tiny Images Visual dictionary of Google images that presents a visualization of nouns in the English language. You can also label the images.
14. DOC Cop Test student work for plagiarism with this app. Use this free tool to do the tedious work and also email you a report of how much of the document was copied and where the copied lines may have originated.
15. Penzu Keep an online journal using this site. This can be useful for both students and teachers.
16. WordSift Used for vocabulary and English, you and your students can analyze text and get information about the vocabulary in it.
17. jVLT Combines a flashcard like tool with a dictionary and a quiz tool to help students learn a foreign language. You can input your own vocabulary list or use one of the downloadable files, which include German-French, Thai-English, French-English, practical Chinese, and many others.
18. CAST UDL Book Builder This wonderful and free online tool allows you to create your own interactive “books” to help young readers learn reading strategies to build comprehension. Enter your own text, images, and hints.
19. Babiloo A free open source software developed to read offline dictionaries.
20. WIKINDX No more days of making note cards and bibliography cards by hand? Now you can replace that process with a digital system that simplifies searching for a quote or collaborating with multiple authors. Automatically formats footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies.
21. Citebite Useful for reading comprehension, reading a specific portion of text, or even for highlighting a literary device within a text or poem. Students will no longer waste time, announcing, “I can’t find it!” or return to school saying they couldn’t do the homework!
Math & Logic
Get your students interested in algebra and Geometry with some help from these apps.
22. ChildsPlay Includes a number of different games suitable for preschoolers and kindergarteners. The games are educational as well as just plain fun.
23. Sequencer Students can learn about number patterns in sequences by specifying a starting number, multiplier, and add-on. The numbers in the sequence are displayed on a graph, and they are also listed below the graph.
24. gnuplot Provides both 2D and 3D graphs to make it easier to visualize mathematical functions or scientific data. Graphs can be saved or exported in numerous file formats or sent directly to your printer.
25. GeoGebra Creates dynamic models useful for learning about geometry, algebra, and calculus. At the site, you’ll also find extensive wikis, worksheets, and other help for math teachers.
26. MATHRAX A graphing tool by NASA for middle school and high school students to graph equations, physics simulations, or plot data files. The graphs have descriptions and sound so students can hear and read about the graph.
27. GraphCalc Run this app for free on your PC. It’s as easy to use as a standard graphing calculator and it creates graphs.
28. Maxima This computer algebra system solves equations and plots data and functions. The web site also includes a handy list of links to other open source computer algebra software.
29. Multiplication Station Reinforce addition, subtraction, or multiplication with this grid themed application. It also has a countdown timer to keep kids focused.
30. TTCalc A scientific calculator that lets you use really big numbers. Features include arithmetical functions, logical operators, trigonometric functions, logarithms, hyperbolic functions and more.
Interactive & Online Classrooms
Online & Interactive Classrooms are the wave of the future. Here are some apps to help get you started on your way.
31. Mando Lets you create an interactive whiteboard. If you have your computer connected to a camera and a projector, you can use your laser pointer to control the computer in front of the class, just as you would use a mouse.
32. Claroline Easily set up an online class or organize student activities on the Web. Teachers can write a course description, publish multimedia documents, prepare online exercises, assign homework, send announcements, and more.
33. eFront Like the above, this app lets you author online content, create tests, communicate with the class, assign homework, and track progress. It also includes surveys and the ability to create your own certifications.
34. Safe Exam Browser Locks down students’ PC’s to prevent students from closing or leaving the testing window, using keyboard shortcuts, using the right-click menus, switching to other applications, or surfing the net when taking an online exam.
35. ILIAS An international app that lets you attend ILIAS conferences and user meetings around the world in order to learn more about this learning system. Like the others in the category, it includes features like course management, online exercises, and chats.
36. TeacherTube Find educational videos as well as lesson plan ideas and tutorials from other teachers with this application.
37. CoFFEE The acronym for “Collaborative Face to Face Educational Environment”. The aim is to help groups of students collaborate on problem solving activities. It includes a set of tools for shared work, individual work, and communication that can be managed and monitored by the teacher.
38. WordPress.org A free and open source software that makes personal publishing as easy as word processing. Make your life and your students’ life easier by keeping a classroom or subject blog.
39. Moodle One of the more popular open source class management systems, this apps key features include assignments, blogs, chats, forums, polls, surveys, quizzes, wikis, and more. A great deal of help for teachers new to online education.
40. BOSS Online Submission System Developed by the University of Warwick, this submission system isn’t a allow students to submit assignments online securely. Teachers can then run tests on submissions and grade assignments online.
41. TCExam Compared to traditional pen and paper tests, this app makes grading faster and more accurate. It installs on any server, and students can take the test from any computer or PDA with a browser.
42. SchoolRack A free app for teachers to create classroom web sites. Using these class portals, teachers can interact with students and parents, post, collect, and grade assignments, send messages to students, and more.
Art, Imaging & Video
Educators and students will love these great apps that can create art, podcasts, and more.
43. Tux Paint Lets kids create small drawings using paintbrush, rubber stamp, line, shape, and text tools, and special effects. Designed for kids in preschool through second grade.
44. Animoto Teachers and their students can upload pictures and sounds and create professional looking videos which can then be downloaded and shared online. Promote enthusiasm to less exciting tasks such as extended writing and practicing oral pronunciation.
45. Gabcast Use this application for podcast creation and hosting sites. You or your students can even use a cell phone to record the podcast.
46. Issuu Lets you upload office or pdf documents and turns them into a collage type album with pages that turn. Students will love this for their special assignments.
47. ArtRage 2 You and your students can paint with thinned oils, use wet or dry markers, soften the pencil and control the hardness of the crayon, and much more.
48. Flickr A nice tool to get a stream of images on any topic. Make content available to your students only.
49. Sliderocket Create a stunning-looking PowerPoint-style multimedia presentation which can then be viewed and shared online. A great way to introduce topics in the classroom.
50. One True Media A blast for doing presentations. Use your photos you can download directly from Flickr and you can even use sound too.
51. Smilebox Especially good for class blogs, this tool has some nice templates. Classmates can share photos or save them for their own projects.
52. Carbonmade: Your Online Portfolio One fabulous way for art or photography students to create a free online portfolio to share work in your class, share with other students, or even submit as an online collection for competitions or college admissions.
These apps can help students create great study habits for life.
53. jMemorize Lets you create your own flashcards and then quizzes you on them. The feature that sets this app apart is that you can keep track of how many of your cards you know well, which you sometimes know, and which you don’t know at all.
54. Shmoop Provides study guides for literature, US history, poetry, and civics, as well as biographies of famous people. Full of pop culture references that make the subjects easier to grasp and more enjoyable for students.
55. Pauker Designed to strengthen ultra-short-term, short-term, and long-term memory. Because you create your own flashcards, students can use it to help you remember any particular subject of interest.
56. SimplyBox Research can help students learn more about the subjects they’re studying. Teachers can help them to think “outside the box” with this tool.
57. Quizlet More than just flashcards and very easy to use. Get students started on good study habits.
58. Mobile Learning Engine A learning and studying application for mobile phones written in Java. It enables you to use your phone at anytime and at anyplace for computer-aided, multimedia-based learning projects.
59. MyRocketbook A collaborative online study community. This app is focused on the student but educators use it as a valuable tool in the classroom as well.
60. Apture Makes learning and finding information easier since it is in linear form. Your information’s deeper meaning occurs with richer context in a shorter time frame. This relevant content remains within your classroom site.
61. Parley This app stands out because of its extensive set of pre-existing flashcard files available for download. In addition to sets of cards to help you learn more than a dozen different languages, it also has cards to help you learn important dates, anatomy, music theory, chemical elements, and more.
Administration & Content Management
Let these apps reduce the time you take on tasks such as attendance and grading, and make more time for you to teach your students.
62. openSIS The Open Source Student Information System has helped a number of schools reduce administrative costs. It includes student demographics, contact information, scheduling, grade book, reporting, report cards, transcripts, health records, and attendance.
63. Archon This app is currently being used by over 40 universities. It simplifies the process of creating a searchable web site to house archival materials. You can input or edit information via web forms and the software will automatically upload and publish it.
64. SchoolTool An extremely useful tool that offers a grade book, attendance tracker, calendar, and emergency contacts. SchoolTool can even create report cards for each student based on the recorded grades.
65. eduCommons A content management system designed for Open Courseware projects. A number of universities around the world are making the content of their courses freely available online.
66. Schools Plone Skin A great app for the non technical educator. Create and maintain information using only a web browser.
67. Fedora Commons Allows you to manage, keep, and link different types of digital content. An example would be to use it to create an archive of video, audio, and text files on a particular topic. Then students can search and comment on the subject.
68. Open Admin A web based school administration program. There are a number of modules included such as discipline, an online grade book, parent & student viewing, and much more.
Music & Audio
Educators and students of music will love these apps with features such as music theory, and even writing their own compositions.
69. LenMus Combines a variety of useful tools for learning music into a single download. It includes ear training activities, music theory exercises, and a score editor so you can write your own compositions.
70. GNU Solfege This app teaches students to identify and sing intervals, recognize rhythms patterns, sing scales and chords, and identify harmonic progressions.
71. Jamendo A good way to add some music to a class blog. It can also be helpful to introduce music while working with lyrics in the classroom.
72. Juice Makes it easy for students to capture and listen to podcasts, any time, anywhere. It includes a directory of thousands of online podcasts, so it’s also easy to find the topic you’re looking for.
73. Lilypond.org An automated engraving system used my many music teachers. It formats music beautifully and automatically, and has a friendly syntax for its input files.
74. Audacity An easy to use and multilingual audio editor and recorder. Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together, record live audio, and more.
75. BestPractice If you’re students are trying to transcribe, orchestrate, or just learn how to play a particular piece, it can be really helpful to be able to slow down a recording. This app lets music teachers slow down CD tracks or MP3s without lowering the pitch of the music.
76. Mixere Lets you play and mix an unlimited number of audio tracks during a live performance. Features include dynamic looping, auto-triggering of audio, fully automated sliders, gradual muting, and cross fading.
77. Finale Enhance and transform the experience of making, teaching, learning, and performing music with your students. This app transformed the process by which musicians, teachers, and students create, edit, audition, print, and publish musical scores.
Library & Multimedia
Check out what many libraries are using as well as some Multimedia applications.
78. Koha The first open source Integrated Library System (ILS). Used all over the world, its development is steered by a growing community of libraries striving to achieve technological goals.
79. eLibrary An electronic book library organizer that can catalog, tag and search your books database with ease. Automatically fetches the book’s details and cover image from the web in an instant.
80. XBMC Media Player Winner of multiple awards, this app plays virtually any type of video, audio, or photo file, as well as organizing media files with its library management system.
81. VuFind Designed by libraries for libraries, this app replaces the traditional online public access catalog with a Web 2.0 portal. Search all of your library’s resources and even text yourself a call number so you don’t have to write it down on a little slip of paper.
82. Evergreen Helps library patrons find library materials, and helps libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials, no matter how large or complex the libraries.
83. Greenstone A tool for building digital libraries. It provides a new way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM form.
Geography & History
With these apps you can view world globes as well as listen to what some famous historians have to say.
84. GoogleEarth Satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings put the world’s geographic information at your fingertips. Students can see the world from a different point of view which makes learning interesting.
85. WorldWind Developed by NASA, this app allows you to access satellite imagery of any point on earth. A bit similar to Google Earth, but has some different features, including the ability to access satellite imagery of the moon.
86. Footnote With a collection of over 58 million original historical documents, teachers can make history seem more real. Students can also annotate documents, to get a better understanding of them.
87. KGeography An educational software game that tests students geographical knowledge. Browse the maps clicking in a map division to see its name. Every nation’s flag and capital will be shown as well.
88. Marble In addition to satellite imagery, this app will also let you explore maps of the world. Choose from topographic maps, street maps, temperature and precipitation maps, and globe views.
89. Mashface Upload a photo of a famous individual, then uses a webcam to add your voice and lips to that person. This could be perfect for getting into the mind of a famous person being studied in history.
90. Ted.com A series of talks by a variety of striking people. The goal is to bring people from the worlds of technology, history, and design together.
Look into these apps to promote strong visualization and make note taking fun for your students.
91. Mayomi A free flash-based mind mapping tool that lets you map out ideas, projects, research topics, or anything else that can be dug into. Great for students when it comes to writing essays.
92. Argumentative This app lets you build an “argument map”. In other words, a visual representation of the structure of an argument. It’s helpful for students studying critical reasoning, logic, debate, philosophy, and persuasive writing.
93. Cmap Tools Build interactive, collaborative mind maps with text, video, and weblinks. Used by many high school teachers and college professors advanced for advanced project work and EAP writing.
94. Mind 42 A free mind map maker with an emphasis on the collaboration. Google instant messenger is built in and if you are a Wikipedia fan there is also an option to attach an article.
95. FreeMind A mind mapping app that makes it easy to create a diagram or picture that shows how words or concepts are related. It’s a great tool for students to brainstorm or problem solve.
96. bubble.us This easy and free online tool allows you to brainstorm ideas, save your mind map as an image, share with students, and create colorful mind map organizers.
96. Recall Plus Promote your students learning power with the downloadable app. A great tool for memorization and creating intelligent ideas.
97. Semantik A mind mapping tool designed for document generation, especially student reports and thesis.
98. Many Eyes A take on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns. Use this tool to create great discussions and debates in your classroom.
99. Simple Solver Very easy to use tool for collaborative projects, brainstorming and problem solving. Students will enjoy using this for group discussions.
100. Wisemapping Considered to be a “Visual Thinking Evolution”, this app offers free web based mind maps you can share anywhere on the web.
We hope these Open source applications can reduce your administrative tasks so that you can have time to educate your students and engage them in learning as well.