Software Freedom Day – Free and open source tools in education

Further to this post, the presentation I gave at Software Freedom Day in Melbourne is now available. It is a brief presentation, as most of it was demonstrating WordPress and Alice. Unfortunately I had a few hiccups on the day, and it was only with the much appreciated assistance of Ben Balbo and others that the presentation could go ahead. You see, Sakai runs on a Tomcat installation and I had it set up ready to go, but had to reboot, then had Java issues so I couldn’t get it to work. The other hampering factor was that external internet access was not available, and most of my demo used online websites. Never mind, there’s always next year.

It was great to see so many presenters and participants, however numbers were down compared to last year. The Hub, while being a great venue, is a little bit out of the way for most – not as central as the Town Hall.

Free and open source tools in education (Powerpoint, 107kb)

Links for the tools referenced are given below;

Questions and comments are warmly welcomed.

Remember me when I’m gone – memory book project

Juliette Reinders-Folmer, a colleague of mine from PHPWomen, is currently involved in a project which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at once. It’s the ‘Remember me when I’m gone’ project – which provides parents who know that they will die while their children are young an opportunity to record a memory book. The memory book helps children foster a sense of identity after losing a parent, through being able to understand the messages and images left to them.

From their website;

Request for your help from the Remember me when I’m gone project The Remember me when I’m gone project is a world-wide, no-budget, non-profit initiative which aims to inspire, motivate and help parents who expect to die before their child(ren) have grown up, to make a memory book about their own life for their child / each of their children. Though the concept of memory books is valid in all situations where the early death of a parent is imminent, memory books have so far mainly been used in AIDS-related projects where the concept has more than proven its worth. The Remember me when I’m gone project opens up access to the memory book concept to all by providing a generic Memory Book template through the website www.remembermewhenimgone.org. We realize there are numerous projects in the field which already work with memory books, however with this project we hope to fill the gap for people who are not in these projects. This template can be downloaded free of charge and is currently available in over a 100 languages. Distribution of the template is freely allowed providing the document is distributed as is and without charge.

Impressed with CiviCRM

As part of moving the technical maturity of both Anam Cara House Geelong and Bonnie Babes forward, I was investigating was free and / or open source software tools were available for volunteer and donor management. After a quick look around SourceForge and trying a couple of these out (eg iVolunteer), the best one available appears to be CiviCRM. This has a number of features including;

  • integration with both Drupal and Joomla
  • the ability to create groups within the contact database (for instance some donors are also volunteers, some volunteers are also members of the board of management)
  • the ability to integrate online paymen with CiviCRM so that online donations are tracked
  • event management – including the tracking of which contacts have participated or attended which events
  • relationship tracking¬† – including recording relationships between contacts (such as mother, brother etc)

There is also a live online demo of CiviCRM that is very useful for providing organisations with an overview, or in depth exploration of functionality – suitable for requirements elicitation.

The software also seems to have a lot of support and a mature development team behind it – which augers well for future improvement of CiviCRM.