Thursday, February 28, 2013

75 Open Source Replacements for Popular Education Apps

School budgets never seem to get any larger, but one way educational institutions may be able to cut costs is by deploying open source software. The open source community has developed applications that educators can use directly in the classroom, apps that are great for use at home and tools that administrators can use for school management.
This month, we've updated our list of top open source applications. And for reference sake, we've included comparable closed-source software that these applications can replace. However, note that when we say "replace," we don't mean that these open source applications have exactly the same features as the closed-source versions — only that the programs serve a similar function.
As always, if you know of additional open source applications that you think should be on our list, please let us know in the comments section below.


1. KLettres
Replaces School Zone Alphabet Express, Reader Rabbit Toddler
KLettres teaches the very youngest computer users to recognize the appearance and sound of letters and syllables. It's also useful for older computer users who are learning a new language, such as Arabic, Czech, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, British English, English, English Phonix, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Kannada, Hebrew, Hindi Romanized, Low Saxon, Luganda, Malayalam, Norwegian Bokmål, Punjabi, Spanish, Slovak, Ukrainian or Telugu. (Note that in order to use KLettres on Windows, you'll have to download KDE for Windows.) Operating System: Windows, Linux.


2. Celestia
Replaces Starry Night, Seeker
A fabulous tool for home or the classroom, Celestia contains an interactive map of the known universe built with actual imagery of objects in space whenever possible. Not only can you view the sky from any point on earth, this app lets you "fly" throughout the galaxy and see how the stars would look from Mars, Jupiter, Pluto or beyond. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
3. Stellarium
Replaces The SkyX, Perseus, SkyMap Lite
While Stellarium doesn't include Celestia's "flying" capabilities, it does present an incredibly accurate and detailed picture of the night sky from any point on earth at any time. In fact, it's so well-done that many planetariums use it to power their shows. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
4. KStars
Replaces The SkyX, Perseus, SkyMap Lite
Similar to Stellarium, KStars lets users view "up to 100 million stars, 13,000 deep-sky objects, all 8 planets, the sun and moon, and thousands of comets and asteroids." It also includes a number of tools helpful for amateur astronomers, such as an observation list, an FOV editor, a sky calendar, supernova alerts and a glossary of technical terms. (Note that in order to use KStars on Windows, you'll have to download KDE for Windows.) Operating System: Windows, Linux.
5. PP3
Replaces Starry Night, SkyMap Software
Science teachers often need to reproduce star charts for use during class lectures, as well as for handouts and tests. This app works with LaTeX, to simplify the process of creating star charts for use in presentation slides or for printing. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
6. StarChart
Replaces Starry Night, SkyMap Software
StarChart describes itself simply as a program that "draws maps of things in the sky." Like PP3, it does a good job of producing high-quality star charts for study purposes. Operating System: Linux.


7. Tux Paint
Replaces Crayola Art Studio
This basic drawing program features a kid-friendly interface, numerous drawing tools, special effects and Tux the Linux penguin. Although the website says it's for children ages 3 to 12, it's probably best for those 7 and under. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
8. GPaint
Replaces Microsoft Paint
Students who are beyond Tux Paint but not quite ready for professional drawing and photo manipulation tools might enjoy this Gnu app. It offers an easy-to-use interface and a wide variety of drawing tools. Operating System: Linux.
9. Inkscape
Replaces Illustrator, CorelDraw
This professional-caliber vector drawing program is suitable for advanced high school and college students or adults who want to experiment with digital art. The site also features a library of open source clip art to help you get started with your own creations. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X
10. Alchemy
Replaces Microsoft Paint
Designed to help artists get their creative juices flowing, Alchemy has a deliberately limited feature set--no undo, no selecting, no editing. Art teachers can use it as a starting point to help students "sketch" new ideas before going on to create finished pieces of art using real-world media or more advanced applications. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X


11. Kalzium
Replaces Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
Need help with introductory chemistry? This KDE app allows students to explore the periodic table, and it comes complete with a molecular weight calculator, an isotope table, a 3D molecule editor and an equation solver for stoichiometric problems. (Note that in order to use Kalzium on Windows, you'll have to download KDE for Windows.) Operating System: Windows, Linux.
12. Avogadro
Replaces ChemDraw
For more advanced students and professional chemists, Avogrado offers an intuitive interface for creating visualizations of molecules. The website also includes some tips for educators on integrating Avogadro into the classroom. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Educational Games

13. GCompris
Replaces Various JumpStart Packages, Various Reader Rabbit Packages
Children 10 and under will enjoy this collection of more than 100 educational games. In addition to activities designed to teach lessons about reading, history, math, science and other subjects, it also includes "fun stuff" like chess, memory, sudoku and similar activities. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
14. ChildsPlay
Replaces Various JumpStart Packages, Various Reader Rabbit Packages
ChildsPlay is also a collection of apps, although it doesn't include nearly as many activities as GCompris. It offers 11 games, including memory games, alphabet and number recognition activities and puzzles. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Foreign Language

15. ZWDisplay
Replaces Declan's ReadWrite Chinese
A combination dictionary/flashcard program, ZWDisplay helps Mandarin students learn to read and pronounce Chinese characters. It uses a unique coloring scheme and a wide variety of options to simplify the language learning process. Operating System: Linux.
16. Step Into Chinese
Replaces Declan's ReadWrite Chinese
Step Into Chinese describes itself as a "language mining tool" that helps native English speaker understand Mandarin in context. It includes 8,300 Chinese characters that correspond to 26,000 modern Chinese words and concepts. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
17. Zkanji
Replaces JISHOP
This app for students learning Japanese includes a dictionary with more than 190,000 words, as well as a flashcard program. It also includes helpful information about how to write kanji characters. Operating System: Windows.


18. FlashQard
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
Using the Leitner method of presenting flashcards, this app optimizes your study time for maximum efficiency by focusing on the information you don't yet know. Create your own cards for any subject or use one of the pre-made card sets for learning languages or geography facts. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
19. jVLT
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
Very similar to FlashQard, Java-based jVLT also uses the Leitner method to help students master concepts. However, this app focuses primarily on vocabulary, making it ideal for students who are studying a foreign language. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

20. The Mnemosyne Project
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
One of the better flashcard apps available, Mnemosyne was born from a research project that is studying the nature of long-term memory. It supports multiple card formats and uses an algorithm to determine which card should appear next. Users who choose to do so can upload their progress anonymously in order to provide data for the research team. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android/
21. Pauker
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
Java-based Pauker lets you take your flashcards with you on almost any device. Like many of the other apps in this category, it uses the Leitner method of flashcard presentation to strengthen your ultra-short-term, short-term, and long-term memory. Operating System: OS Independent.
22. Parley
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
In addition to traditional flashcards, Parley also utilizes anagrams, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, synonym/antonym and other types of tests to improve your vocabulary. Many user-created card sets are available at KDE for Windows. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
23. Anki
Replaces Flash Card Manager, studyPerfect, WinFlash
This app boasts that it can help students learn just about any type of information, whether they are learning a new language, studying for medical exams or trying to remember guitar chords. It comes in iOS and Android versions, making it ideal for learning on the go. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, Android.


24. WorldWind
Replaces Google Earth
Very similar to Google Earth, this NASA-developed tool lets you view satellite imagery and maps for any location on earth. It also includes an API for developers who want to include WorldWind functionality within their own apps. Operating System: OS Independent.
25. Marble
Replaces Google Earth
This "virtual globe" goes far beyond basic mapping, integrating weather, photos, traffic and Wikipedia information. With the mobile versions (currently only for select Nokia phones, an Android version is in the works), it also becomes a turn-by-turn navigation system. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Library Automation

26. VuFind
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
This library management system boasts Web 2.0 capabilities and design done "by libraries for libraries." The modular architecture means it's easy to install just the features you need--or to add or modify modules as necessary. Operating System: OS Independent.
27. LibLime Koha
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
Used by thousands of libraries around the world, Koha describes itself as "the most advanced and cost effective open source automation solution on the market." Paid hosting, support, consulting, implementation and development services are also available on the site. Operating System: OS Independent.
28. OpenBiblio
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
OpenBiblio features include an online public access catalog (OPAC), circulation, cataloging, and staff administration. See the site for extensive documentation and templates. Operating System: OS Independent.
29. Evergreen
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
This library automation solution prides itself on its scalability. The Evergreen community is unusually active, with regular newsletters and updates, and you can find demos of the software and an interactive of libraries using Evergreen at the website. Operating System: OS Independent.
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
Short for "OPen-source Automated Library System," OPALS is one of the most highly rated library automation solutions available. It provides Web-based access to information databases, library collections and digital archives. Paid hosting and other services are available. Operating System: OS Independent.
31. NewGenLib
Replaces Alexandria, ResourceMate, Surpass, Mandarin Library Automation
NewGenLib proudly proclaims itself the "best open source library system." Notable features include support for Android smartphones and tablets, standards compliance, an intuitive interface and much more. Operating System: OS Independent.


32. Argumentative
Replaces Rationale
Ideal for students taking logic, debate, law, writing, speech and similar classes, Argumentative makes it easy to create a visual representation of an argument. It tracks premises, reasons, objections, helpers, reasoning, analysis and more to help users create well-reasoned papers and speeches. Operating System: Windows.
33. Argunet
Replaces Rationale
Argunet offers both an argument editor (similar to Argumentative) and a library of arguments that students can browse and analyze. You can use it on a standalone system or in a client-server setup to encourage collaboration among students or debate teams. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
34. iLogos
Replaces Rationale
Java-based iLogos isn't quite as fancy as some of the other argument mappers, but it does make it fairly easy to diagram arguments with a combination of words and pictures. The site also includes a helpful list of similar tools. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


35. Sage
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
Sage brings together more than 100 other open source math projects under a single unifying interface. It can handle everything from basic algebra to calculus to cryptography to group theory and everything in between. However, the interface is very basic and will feel most comfortable to users with some background in programming. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
36. Genius
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
This app functions both as a calculator and as a research/educational tool. To use it, you'll have to enter a mathematical expression using the Genius Extension Language (GEL), but the language is designed to look as much like regular math syntax as possible. Operating System: Linux, OS X.
37. Scilab
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
Designed for engineers and scientists, Scilab can handle maths and simulation, 2D and 3D visualizations, optimization, statistics, control system design and analysis, signal processing and more. Paid support, training and services are available through Scilab Enterprises. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
38. Maxima
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
A descendant of MIT's Macsyma, Maxima describes itself as "a system for the manipulation of symbolic and numerical expressions, including differentiation, integration, Taylor series, Laplace transforms, ordinary differential equations, systems of linear equations, polynomials, and sets, lists, vectors, matrices, and tensors." It can also create both 2D and 3D graphs. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
39. GeoGebra
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
With its wide range of capabilities, GeoGebra is suitable for elementary students learning arithmetic, high school students learning algebra and geometry, and even for college students studying calculus and advanced mathematics. Specifically designed as an educational tool, it is much more user-friendly than many of the other math apps on our list, and the website also includes helpful resources for educators. Operating System: OS Independent.
40. GraphCalc
Replaces Visual Math
GraphCalc isn't so much as replacement for other software as a replacement for handheld graphing calculators. The site boasts, "GraphCalc can be your first, last, and only line of offense against the mathematics that threaten to push you over the brink of insanity. It slices, dices, shreds and purees functions that leave other calculators wondering what hit them." The project hasn't been updated in a while, but it remains a helpful alternative to graphing calculators. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

41. gnuplot
Replaces Visual Math, Mathematica
Unlike many of the other math apps on our list, Gnuplot does just one thing--create graphs. It works from the command line and supports both 2D and 3D plots. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix, OS X, and others.
42. Dr. Geo
Replaces Cabri
This award-winning app invites people age 7 to 77 to "be a geometer." It allows students to create and interact with sketches of geometric objects so that they can better understand geometry lessons. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
43. Kig
Replaces Cabri
Similar to Dr. Geo, KDE's geometry app also provides an interface for working with and learning more about geometric figures. (Note that in order to use Kig on Windows, you'll have to download KDE for Windows.) Operating System: Windows, Linux.


44. MuseScore
Replaces Sibelius, Finale
There's no need to spend hundreds of dollars on music notation software or to spend hundreds of hours writing scores by hand. MuseScore creates, prints and even plays musical scores--and it's free. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
45. LenMus/Phonascus Replaces Practica Musica
Music theory students will likely find this app helpful. It includes lessons and interactive games that quiz you on your theory knowledge and ear training. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
46. GNU Solfege
Replaces Earmaster
This ear training app has exercises designed to teach students to identify intervals, chords, scales and rhythmic patterns. It also includes some theory and sight singing activities. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


47. Step
Replaces Yenka Science
Step is an interactive physics simulator that allows students to explore classical mechanics, particles, springs, gravity, coulomb forces, collisions, sound waves and much more. It also includes an equation solver and a unit conversion tool. (Note that in order to use Step on Windows, you'll have to download KDE for Windows.) Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Online Course Management Systems/E-Learning

48. Moodle
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
Incredibly popular, Moodle is a highly scalable course management system that currently powers nearly 7 million online courses for more than 65 million users. The website offers helpful demonstrations so that you can see this CMS in action from both an instructor's and a student's point of view. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
49. Sakai
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
Sakai offers two separate open source products: Sakai CLE, which is similar to other online learning systems, and Sakai OAE which is a collaboration and social sharing platform for academics, researchers and students. Several commercial affiliates offer hosting and related services. Operating System: OS Independent.
50. Claroline
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
Available in many different languages, Claroline is used by organizations in more than 100 different countries. It boasts a highly intuitive interface, and it's flexible enough to meet the needs of businesses and associations, as well as colleges and universities. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
51. eFront
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
Unlike most of the other learning management systems on our list, eFront places particular emphasis on meeting the training needs of enterprises. It's available in paid hosted and enterprise versions, as well as the open source edition. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
ILIAS claims to be the first open source learning management system in the world to achieve SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition) compliance. It also enjoys a very active community with conferences and user events regularly scheduled in many different countries. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
53. ATutor
Replaces Pearson Learning Studio, Articulate Storyline, TrainCaster LMS
ATutor was designed to comply with industry standards, such as SCORM Content Packaging, SCORM 1.2 LMS RTE3, OAuth Authentication Protocol and others, and accessibility standards, such as W3C WCAG 2.0, W3C ATAG 2.0, US Section 508 and many others. Try the online demo to see it in action. Operating System: OS Independent.

Operating System

54. Edubuntu
Replaces Microsoft Windows
This Ubuntu-based Linux distribution aims to collect all the best in open source educational software and make it available along with an easy-to-use, free operating system. It's developed by a community committed to the idea that "learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them."
55. Qimo for Kids
Replaces Microsoft Windows
As you might guess from the name, this Ubuntu-based operating system was designed to be used by kids, specifically by those as young as three years of age. It features an extensive library of educational games, and its large icons make it easy for young children to find what they're looking for.
56. Debian Edu/Skolelinux
Replaces Microsoft Windows
This Debian variation incorporates many educational games and apps, and it's available in multiple languages. The name "Skolelinux" is Norwegian for "school Linux."
57. Fedora Education Spin
Replaces Microsoft Windows
Fedora, the community version of Red Hat's Linux distribution, comes in a special education "spin." It includes the Sugar desktop environment, the KDE education apps and a version of the Eclipse integrated development environment so that students can learn to write their own code.


58. BibleTime
Replaces Logos
Top-of-the-line Bible study tools like Logos can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but BibleTime offers many of the same capabilities for free. It provides searchable access to more than 200 Bibles, commentaries and related resources. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
59. Xiphos
Replaces Logos
Xiphos provides access to the same Biblical texts and resources as BibleTime—it just has a different interface. It also provides the capabilities for users to create their own modules such as journals, prayer lists and personal commentaries that they can share with friends. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
60. Zekr
Replaces Al-Qari Plus
This app provides access to the Quran and commentaries in a number of different translations. It's completely free and open source because its developers follow a very simple rule: "Never Profit Off The Prophet." Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


Replaces EndNote, Biblioscape
WIKINDX combines tools for tracking bibliographic information with tools for collaboratively authoring papers. It can be deployed on a single system or on a Web server, and it knows how to format entries for the most popular style guides, including the Chicago Manual, APA and others. Operating System: OS Independent.
62. Zotero
Replaces EndNote, Biblioscape
Zotero stores research information where you found it—in your browser. It's a Firefox plug-in that automatically collects and organizes your research so that you can easily search it later. Operating System: OS Independent.

Student Information System

63. openSIS
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
Downloaded more than 50,000 times and used by more than 12,000 schools, openSIS bills itself as "the only open source Global SIS in the world." In addition to the free community edition it comes in commercially supported school and district versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
64. ClaSS
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
Used by some of the largest international schools in Europe, ClaSS describes itself as "an information management system which puts students first." It includes a student database, messaging, reporting and school management features.
65. OpenAdmin
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
Downloaded nearly 25,000 times, this SIS has been deployed by schools all around the world—in fact, you can see a count of how many schools in each country use it right on the project home page. It includes modules for demographics, attendance, discipline, report cards, fees, online gradebook, transcripts, special needs and more. Operating System: OS Independent.
66. SchoolTool
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
Designed for schools in the developing world, SchoolTool runs on Ubuntu and has been translated into numerous languages. The latest update can track skills, outcomes and standards, which is helpful for complying with regulations in many areas. Operating System: Linux.
67. Open-School
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
This very polished SIS describes boasts user-friendliness, security and scalability. A free community version is available, but the website primarily promotes the supported commercial version. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
68. Akura
Replaces PowerSchool, Schoolmaster, RenWeb
Akura was designed for a "college" (which equates to a K-12 school in the U.S.) in Sri Lanka and serves many Asian institutions. It's won many awards, and it's particularly popular with religious schools. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


69. TCExam
Replaces Exam Pro, QuestionMark
This computer-based assessment software aims to simplify the creation, delivery and scoring of tests. It's available under an open source license for non-commercial use or with a paid commercial license. Operating System: OS Independent.
70. iTest
Replaces Exam Pro, QuestionMark
This client-server based software makes it easy to give each student a different version of a test because it can pull questions from a pre-established database. It's available in nine different languages. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
71. Safe Exam Browser
Replaces Exam Pro, QuestionMark
If you're giving a browser-based test (for example, through a learning management system), this tool locks down the student's system so they can't browse the Internet or access other applications while taking the exam. It can be used with student-owned PCs, as well as with school-owned, networked systems. Operating System: Windows.


72. TuxType
Replaces Maevis Beacon Teaches Typing, Typing Instructor
For younger kids who are just learning their way around the keyboard, this app uses fun games to help students learn where the various letters are. Type quickly to help Tux the Linux penguin eat all the fish or save the earth from falling asteroids. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
73. TypeFaster Typing Tutor
Replaces Maevis Beacon Teaches Typing, Typing Instructor
Unlike TuxType, TypeFaster is a full-featured touch-typing learning system. It includes a 3D typing game, and it has a teacher mode that allows instructors to track students' progress. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
74. Klavaro
Replaces Maevis Beacon Teaches Typing, Typing Instructor
Humble Klavaro describes itself as "just another free touch typing tutor program," but it's actually quite unique for its keyboard- and language-independent operation. In addition to the familiar "QWERTY" keyboard layout, it supports six other built-in layouts, or you can use the keyboard editor to create your own. It's also available for 25 different languages, making this a good choice for users outside the U.S. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
75. WriteType
Replaces Microsoft Word
This option doesn't teach students to type—it makes typing easier, particularly for younger users. It includes features like word completion, read aloud mode, grammar checking and auto-correction that make it easier for young people to create documents on their own. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

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