KDE-Edu and edubuntu

Susan Addington saddingt at csusb.edu
Sat Sep 30 19:33:53 UTC 2006

Dear Anne-Marie,

I am a teacher (of mathematics) to future elementary teachers, and  
have been investigating the possibilities for open-source software in  
my classes, and my students' future classes.

My conclusion so far:
Edubuntu seems to be a collection of miscellaneous pieces that  
happened to be available. Very little of it seems to have been  
developed in a unified way, with educational research and objectives  
at the forefront.

GCompris, for example, has lots of cute, "dancing frog" animations  
that sometimes embody important and interesting concepts. Other times  
it's  just drill on computation facts. (Drill is boring and is low- 
level thinking. However, drill is perhaps better done by computers  
than live teachers.)

What I use for my future teachers: (These are all useful for the  
middle grades (ages about 9-14))
*	a spreadsheet program (OpenOffice or Excel), for teaching ideas of  
algebra. (This is a long story of what concepts come out, and what  
activities to do to bring them out. Very few math educators seem to  
be using these tools.)
*	dynamic geometry for both synthetic (no coordinates) and analytic  
(coordinates and equations) geometry. I use GeoGebra (java, free open  
source) or Geometer's Sketchpad or Cabri.
*	Logo (for some special purpose lessons). I use a small  
implementation that runs over the web (TurtleTracks.)

For high school, it would be useful to have a computer algebra system  
that is moderately powerful and easy to use, with both a graphical  
and a text-based interface. I have not found anything open source  
that meets these criteria. Commercial software that meets at least  
some of them: Graphing Calculator (better for graphing than for  
symbolic algebra), actual graphing calculators (Texas Instruments TI  
83 and 89, for instance; I find these awkward to use, and hard or  
expensive to interface with computers), Derive (the computing engine  
behind the TIs; I don't use this because it only runs on Windows).  
Maple and Mathematica are much too complex to use for most students,  
and are very expensive.

There is also a shortage of unified, educationally sound mathematics  
curriculum in many of these areas. In the US, at least, dynamic  
geometry and graphing calculators are used and integrated in some  
math classrooms, mostly at the secondary level. (We do not have a  
national curriculum. Our curriculum is locally controlled, sometimes  
even varying from teacher to teacher.) My impression of the  
elementary/primary level is that it's mostly arithmetic drill  
programs, if anything.

While I am eternally grateful to those who do the coding, it may be  
time to coordinate with some education people.

On Sep 30, 2006, at 7:58 AM, Anne-Marie Mahfouf wrote:

> Hi,
> I am Anne-Marie, the KDE-Edu module coordinator (and founder). I am  
> glad
> Edubuntu uses our programs and I would like to work more closely  
> with you all
> in order to get feedback from teachers, schools and parents to
> 1) improve our current applications
> 2) develop new programs according to your wishes.
> A polemic is starting regarding Kalzium as it seems the Edubuntu  
> team is
> developing a Kalzium-like for Gnome (Gallium). I find this a bit  
> strange and
> I would like to ask you your intentions for the future. Are you  
> going to
> duplicate our work (you perfectly have the right to do so) or are  
> we going to
> work together in order to offer more educational programs to teachers?
> The kdelibs and qt on which the KDE-Edu programs depend are not big
> dependencies. GCompris for example is also quite big (if I quote  
> his author,
> he said to me GCompris is bigger than Gnome itself). It's already  
> difficult
> to have developers doing educational work as most are young and  
> have no
> children and prefer working on multimedia for example. Duplicating the
> current work would be a waste of time.
> I hope you can clarify all that so we (KDE-Edu and Edubuntu) can  
> begin a
> partnership if you are interested.
> Thanks for your attention,
> Anne-Marie
> -- 
> edubuntu-devel mailing list
> edubuntu-devel at lists.ubuntu.com
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/edubuntu-devel

Susan Addington
Math Department, California State University, San Bernardino (USA)

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