Eric Curts, North Canton
of free programs | Where to get free software | Good
examples of free software | How to download and install
Types of free programs
Software can be
one of the most expensive parts of your computer. However, it does not have
to be. There are many excellent programs available completely for free which
you can download and use in place of expensive commercial software. And even
though these programs are free, they can still be very professional and useful.
Such free programs
generally fall into three main categories:
– This would be any program that is simply free. Often the creator just
wants to give something back to the world, so they give the software away
for free, although they still own the copyright to the program. Usually freeware
is made by a single person or a small group of people.
software – This would be programs that are free for anyone
to use, and also legal for anyone to modify and improve. Often these programs
are continually developed over time by a large community of contributors working
toward a common goal.
– This would include any programs that can be tried for free for some
period of time, but then some limitation gets imposed. For example, the software
may no longer work after the trial period unless you purchase it. Or it may
keep working, but just in a limited mode without all its normal features.
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Where to get
To find free software
you have two main options:
- First, you
can simply do a Google search from something like “free
math software” or “free Spanish programs” or such. You may
be surprised to find how much is out there.
- Second, you
can visit web sites that specialize in cataloging free software,
making it easy for you to browse and search for something to meet your needs.
Either way, you
should always be careful about what you download and install.
- Use common
sense to evaluate the program, its web site, and any reviews it may have.
- Also, you
need to make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are up-to-date
and working. This will help protect you against a malicious program.
- Finally, always
ask a tech person for assistance if you have any questions or concerns about
Below are a few
of the better sites that catalog free software:
“SchoolForge's mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate,
use, and develop open resources for education. We advocate the use of open
texts and lessons, open curricula, free software and open source in education.”
At this site you can search by keyword or browse through categories. Once
you get to a listing of programs you can filter by license (choose “Free”)
and you can sort by ratings and popularity.
Here you will find all open-source programs. This link is for the educational
category, although you can click off to different categories at the site.
Open Source Software List
This is Wikipedia’s collection of open-source programs. Many of the
links here go to subcategories with more programs. Note: There are quite lot
of non-Windows programs on this site, so make sure the software will work
on your computer before downloading.
This is a small collection of free educational programs, but they are all
high-quality. This site has both downloadable programs and web-based programs.
Another general collection of free programs. Start by choosing your operating
system (such as “Windows”) and then choose your category (such
as “Education & References”)
Another large collections of free programs. Choose a category and then limit
the results by license type.
Free 4 U – Educational Software
A small but good collection of free educational programs.
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of free software
There are so many
great free programs. Here are just a few of the best examples, covering many
needs and subjects.
/ Multiple Subjects
This is a free office suite of programs that can be used instead of Microsoft
Office. You can even save your files in Microsoft Office format, so they can
be opened with Office if needed. It includes the following programs:
Writer – A word processor similar to Microsoft Word
Calc – A spreadsheet program similar to Microsoft Excel
Impress – A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint
Draw – A graphics editor similar to CorelDRAW
Base – A database program similar to Microsoft Access
Math – A tool for creating mathematical expressions similar to Microsoft
This is a free concept mapping program, similar to Inspiration or Kidspiration.
It is not as “cute” as those programs, but it does have many of
their features. Additionally it allows users to share their concept maps with
the rest of the world and to search for concept maps created by others.
This is a free program that allows you to communicate with any other Skype
user through text chat, voice chat, and video chat. This is a great way to
bring distance learning into your classroom.
Google Earth is a fantastic free program that lets you explore a detailed
3-D version of our entire planet. This program is not just for Social Studies,
but also has excellent applications in Math, Science, and Language classes.
GCompris is an educational software suite comprising of activities for children
aged 2 to 10. Some of the activities are game orientated, but nonetheless
of Math Command
"Tux of Math Command" is an educational math tutorial game starring
Tux, the Linux Penguin.
GeoGebra is a free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for schools
that joins geometry, algebra and calculus
GraphCalc includes many of the standard features of graphing calculators,
but also includes some higher-end features.
Celestia is real-time 3D space simulation which lets you travel through our
solar system and to over 100,000 stars in our neighborhood.
Seterra is a challenging geography program with 70 different exercises. Learn
about countries, capitals, flags and cities in Africa, Europe, South America,
North America, Asia and Australia, using outline map exercisesv
Centennia Napoleonic Edition is a subset of the Centennia Historical Atlas.
It covers Europe and the Middle East during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic
period. You can follow the march of French armies from just after the Revolution,
through the rise of Napoleon's great French Empire, his unsuccessful campaign
in Russia, and on to the final demise at Waterloo.
Spelling Activities is a program to educate elementary-school students in
spelling and phonograms, with voice and animation.
Tux Typing is an educational typing tutor for children. It features several
different types of gameplay, at a variety of difficulty levels.
You Know It
This is an excellent program for learning the vocabulary of a foreign language.
There are many words lists and multiple ways to learn and practice the words.
This is a free program to help you learn Spanish. It has over 9,000 Spanish
words along with audio of their pronunciation.
Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to
12 (preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects,
and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program.
Utilities / Helpers
EclipseCrossword is a powerful but simple crossword puzzle creation application.
Just give it a list of words and clues, and it puts the puzzle together for
you. You can print the crossword, or save it as a web page to post on the
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How to download
Once you have
found a program you wish to use, you will need to download and install it. This
process can vary between programs, but basically you want to follow these steps:
- Go to the
web site for the program
- Locate and
click on the download link (typically labeled “Download”)
- Choose a place
to save the file that will be easy for you to remember, such as your desktop
or “My Documents” or such. You may even want to make a new folder
just to hold things you download, such as “Temp” or “Stuff”.
- Let the file
- Now go find
the downloaded file on your computer. Even though you have downloaded the
file, the program is not ready to be used yet. You still need to install it.
the file to begin the installation process.
- Note: If this
does not automatically start the installation process, then the file may be
“zipped”. This means all the different parts of the program have
been put into one file which needs to be “unzipped” before you
can proceed. To unzip a file you can use a free program such as WinZip (http://www.winzip.com)
- Once the installation
process begins, simply follow the onscreen directions specific to that program.
- After the
install is done, you can now use the program.
- Also, you
should be able to delete the original downloaded file since it is not needed
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Canton City Schools Technology Page
North Canton City Schools District
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Copyright 2006 - Eric Curts