Here is the opening paragraph, which includes a pretty big number, but I don’t know what this writer means by “the educational community”, or what he means by “support and services for open source software by 2012”:
The educational community has discovered open source tools in a big way. Analysts predict that schools will spend up to $489.9 million on support and services for open source software by 2012, and that only includes charges related to operating systems and learning management systems. Teachers, professors and home schoolers are using open source applications as part of their educational curriculum for a wide variety of subjects.
There is no link to the number or to the analysts, so I don’t know from where the information comes. I’d like to say right away that I don’t like that the writer of this blog post is saying that these open source tools “replace” existing tools or software. I don’t think there is any way for one person to measure that. I think it is helpful, though, to say that these open source tools may work well in cooperation with existing software, or as accents for software that already exists.
Here are a few that I thought were interesting, and my arguments against some of their basic marketing premises:
Step Into Chinese addresses an apparent lack of one-to-one matching between Chinese characters and their pinyin representation. This apparently makes it really hard for English learners to learn Chinese. I have studied Chinese, off and on, for a few years, and while I have not mastered it, I don’t think that this is what has kept me from understanding Chinese. Chinese is a tonal language, and having it’s pinyin representation is not really going to make it easier for you to learn. To learn Chinese, you have to practice, practice, and practice. But mostly you have to write and listen. Still, a really interesting product idea.
Then we have Celestia, which doesn’t just confine you to star-gazing at earth level. You can use this software to look at constellations and planetary objects from any point in the universe. And it has great graphics.
I think Compris needs a lot of work, but I like that it’s available and ready to use. And I like that anyone with chops can sit down and try developing it with the original team. That’s a great asset in open source. It’s never finished, but it never sucks. It’s always getting better and, who knows, maybe a really smart kid can be given the keys and in collaboration with other students, they can make the next great education game online.