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Child’s Play: Linux Conversion Through Education

What's the easiest way to get more people using Linux? Start them young.

Successful and peaceful conversion of a population to any new concept occurs through its children. If you want to make people recycle plastic bottles, start a recycling program in Elementary School. Do you want to introduce a new type of mathematics? Introduce it in Elementary School. Do you have an internationally accepted system of measurement that you want everyone to use? OK, that last one doesn’t count.

You may, however, convert the world to Linux by providing free and engaging Elementary School level educational and edutainment programs. This article gives you an introduction to three actively developed educational systems for children: The KDE Education Project, The GCompris Educational Suite, and The Childsplay Suite.

THE PROBLEM IS ELEMENTARY

When confronted by parents to use computers and educational software in the classroom, teachers and school officials point to near-empty coffers and stressed budgets as their reason not to do so. Elementary schools can spend thousands per year on computer-oriented educational programs for their students. Some of these systems can cost upwards of $50,000 USD or more to get a full complement of software and student learning materials for a single grade level. This number is far too high for many school districts leaving them to either do without computerized educational software or seek free alternatives.

Linux, itself, is advantageous because it is free, works on older hardware with which many schools suffer, and there are hundreds of free educational and productivity applications available for it. School officials concerned about support, security, or open source software in general should solicit information and assistance from Linux-savvy parents and teachers.

KDE EDUCATION PROJECT

The KDE Education Project (KDE-Edu) developers offer a host of educational applications for children as young as 3 up to 18. By the time a child reaches the teenage years, most will have moved on to interacting with the operating system itself and utilizing its power for homework and research.

KDE-Edu offers a wide range of applications from Language-building apps like Kanagram and KWordQuiz to math-related ones such as KAlgebra and KBruch to blinken and KTurtle that fall under the Miscellaneous Edutainment category. The KDE Education Suite is part of a standard installation of KDE 4.

Listed under Edutainment in KDE 4, as shown in Figure 1, are the following applications (listings may differ slightly between distributions):

FIGURE 1: KDE 4 Edutainment Applications
FIGURE 1: KDE 4 Edutainment Applications

LISTING 1: KDE 4 Edutainment Applications

  • Languages
    • Letter Order Game (Kanagram)
    • Hangman Game (KHangMan)
    • Japanese Reference/Study Tool (Kiten)
    • Learn the Alphabet (KLettres)
    • Flash Card Trainer (KWordQuiz)
    • Vocabulary Trainer (Parley)
  • Mathematics
    • Graph Calculator (KAlgebra)
    • Exercise Fractions (KBruch)
    • Interactive Geometry (Kig)
    • Mathematical Function Plotter (KmPlot)
    • Exercise Percentages (KPercentage)
    • Educational Programming Environment (KTurtle)
  • Chemical
    • Kalzium – Periodic Table of the Elements
  • Teaching
    • Blinken (blinken) – Classic Electronic Simon Game
    • Geography Trainer (KGeography)
    • Touch Typing Tutor (KTouch)
  • Astronomy
    • Desktop Planetarium (KStars)
    • Desktop Globe (Marble)

Since there are no dependencies (other than KDE4) for the KDE Educational Suite, fun-packed learning is just a few clicks away. The Classic game Simon, a favorite enjoyed by children and adults for 30 years, called Blinken is ready to test your memory. Shown in Figure 2, it’s irresistable to kids but you may have to release your inner child first to let them play it.

FIGURE 2: Blinken Classic Memory Game
FIGURE 2: Blinken Classic Memory Game

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