Monday, January 24, 2011

Open Source

So even though I was familiar with the term "open source" I have to admit, I did not really know much about it. So after doing some research, I have become more acquainted with open source applications and even realized I had been using a few and not even realizing I was using open source.

What really separates open source from free applications and proprietary applications is the ability to edit the application. It is generally licensed under GNU (General Public License). Realizing that in order to edit an application would require knowledge of code and time to spend playing with the application, I have neither, so that is probably why I don't take full advantage of open source applications. I mostly use shareware and proprietary applications, but I do use some open source applications.

The one I use most is Audacity. Audacity is an application that lets you record and edit audio files. I have used it for several years and I am pleased at how easy it is to use. I use it to record my own audio files to playback on my mp3 player (iPod). When I first started taking online classes, the component I missed most was sound. I really missed listening to lectures and having oral discussions, and I would rather talk than have written discussions. So to help myself understand content better, I would read my assignments out loud and record my voice with Audacity. I would then may mp3 files that I could listen to on my computer or iPod.

I found this had several advantages for me, I would actually read the assignment and not just skim it and I learned how to enunciate the words. As I was listening to my assignment, I would also follow along with the text, highlight the main points and take notes. It added that audio component I was so desperately missing. I am a firm believer in the adage: I need to see it, read it, write it and listen to it in order to learn and fully comprehend new material. It is not for everyone, but it worked for me.

Another open source application that I have used is OpenOffice. This software is an office suite software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database software. It will open many file formats and it will save documents in compatible file formats, so file sharing is easier for the user. I have recommended this option to several students who cannot afford proprietary software. Moodle is open source course management software and I have used it as a student. If a school district cannot afford course management software, this is a viable option for instructors.

So that is my take on open source software. I have learned a lot this week and I am going to work towards posting earlier in the week so I will allow my classmates more opportunity to interact with my posts.


  1. What a neat idea for auditory learners! I'm a kinesthetic learner, so the audio I like while working is just background music, but for people that need to hear the material to learn it better, Audacity would be excellent. Way to go and thanks for that new tool!!

    I do want to comment on your remark, "Realizing that in order to edit an application would require knowledge of code and time to spend playing with the application, I have neither, so that is probably why I don't take full advantage of open source applications." <- too true for me too

  2. Unlike you I can't listen... or I listen to the moment and after the moment's gone the info's gone too. I am not very good at listening to long lectures. When I was an undergrad I'd show up to just take notes. If I didn't read before and after class I wouldn't have had a clue what just happened during the 50 minutes I was there. I had good grades but it wasn't because I listened ;)

    Great post!

  3. I have never used Open Office before, but that sounds like a very useful open source.

    I also very much miss listening to lectures. I really do miss that human interaction. I never thought of using Audacity like this, but what a fantastic idea.

  4. I was really impressed with your study strategy. I am the same way; it works better for me to hear it, see it, and read it. That is why it takes me so long to study. Thanks for sharing your idea.