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  4. <title>TUX&amp;GNU@school - 1st edition</title>
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  7. <div>
  8. <h1>TUX&amp;GNU@school - 1st edition</h1>
  9. <p><i>This is the first of approximately 3 editions of the
  10. column "TUX&amp;GNU@school". I will report every month about
  11. a piece of free education software, a website on the topic
  12. and an idea for an useful program for school purposes. This
  13. month I talk about <a href="">KTouch
  14. [1]</a>, a KDE program for learning touch writing, <a
  15. href=""> [2]</a>, the homepage
  16. of the KDE edutainment project and the idea
  17. "multiplication-table worksheets generated easily".</i></p>
  18. <p>After servers, GNU/Linux and Free Software in general
  19. conquer more and more desktops too. Till recently, they
  20. lacked of two important software scopes to exist on the
  21. desktop: On the one hand these are first class computer games
  22. and on the other hand this is education software.
  23. Approximately half a year ago two colleaques and me founded
  24. the <a href="">ALIS - Arbeitsgruppe Linux
  25. an Schulen (Swiss work group for linux at school) [3]</a>
  26. whose goal it is helping schools using GNU/Linux and Free
  27. Software and help them with words and deeds. In this context
  28. I became concious that almost nobody reported about free
  29. education software and so, as a big fan of the <a
  30. href="">Brave GNU World
  31. [4]</a>, from now on I want to report about free software and
  32. GNU/Linux at and for schools monthly (at the moment for the
  33. next three month til July). Depending on what's the feedback
  34. and appeal I will pursue after July. With this in mind every
  35. kind of feedback, criticism, questions and more are gladly <a
  36. href="">read [5]</a>.</p>
  37. <p>But now let's continue with the first piece of free
  38. education software.</p>
  39. <h3>KTouch - Touch typing learned easily</h3>
  40. <p>KTouch is a program for KDE which helps learning touch
  41. writing. It's already available in version 1.0 and was lately
  42. continued with KDEedu incorporated in <a
  43. href="">KDE 3.0 [6]</a>. I tested it under
  44. Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (testing) with KDE 2.2 and XFree86
  45. 4.1.0.</p>
  46. <p>Essentially the interface of KTouch is divided into four
  47. sections (see screenshot 1). Upmost there is the menu bar
  48. located listing the following items: <i>File</i>,
  49. <i>Option</i> <i>Settings</i> and <i>Help</i>. Right under it
  50. there is the status bar showing from left to right, on which
  51. level you practise, how many strokes a minute you make, how
  52. much percent of the already entered words or letters were
  53. correct, which new letters are introduced in the current
  54. level and quite right there is an break button disconnecting
  55. the lesson. Beneath it goes on with the doublespaced bar
  56. showing the to typing text in the first and the typed text in
  57. the second row. When you make a mistake the second row
  58. changes color into red and you see instantly that you have to
  59. erase some characters. In the last and largest sections the
  60. keyboard is drawn. This is fairly colored, large and clear.
  61. Scaling the program window up the layout is adapting itself
  62. optimally to the size of the window.</p>
  63. <p><img src="./img/ktouch.en.png"
  64. alt="Screenshot 1: KTouch in action" width="800" height="600"
  65. border="0" /><br />
  66. </p>
  67. <h5>Screenshot 1: KTouch in action</h5>
  68. <br />
  69. <br />
  70. Under <i>File-&gt;Open</i> it is easily possible to start
  71. lessons for other languages and keyboards. Already available
  72. are lessons for the languages: German, English, French and
  73. Norwegian plus a lesson for the numbers block (see screenshot
  74. 2). By the way it is very easy to write new lessons, these
  75. are saved in simple text files of course. For this purpose
  76. there is an own chapter in the documentation explaining how
  77. to do it. Furthermore you can set different keyboard layouts
  78. under <i>Option-&gt;Keyboard</i> of course. These are saved
  79. only in text files as well and it is relatively easy possible
  80. to add new one. General settings as the font style, color or
  81. sound are adjustable under <i>Option-&gt;General</i>. Some
  82. further settings for the exercise course respectively the
  83. level are manageable under <i>Option-&gt;Training</i>. <br />
  84. <br />
  85. <p><img src="./img/ktouch-numbers.en.png"
  86. alt="Screenshot 2: The number block" width="800" height="600"
  87. border="0" /><br />
  88. </p>
  89. <h5>Screenshot 2: The number block</h5>
  90. <br />
  91. <br />
  92. <p>It's very simple to learn typewriting with this program
  93. first of all because the keys for each finger are marked with
  94. the same color. All that keys you have to push right now are
  95. also marked. But what I still missing is a description for
  96. each lesson guiding one and give one a short introduction for
  97. each new key and finger. In the interview, published perhaps
  98. one week ago, the author of KTouch says that this should be
  99. one of the next items he want to implement. Incidentally the
  100. interview arose in context with the choice to the <a
  101. href="">
  102. "Anwendung des Monat" (Application of the month)</a> on <a
  103. href=""> [8]</a>, the German portal of
  104. KDE. Beyond stays to say that the next version, released with
  105. KDE 3.0, has already a statistic function making it possible
  106. to regard more on the own results with the lessons.</p>
  107. <p>But now continues to the home of KTouch.</p>
  108. <h3> - The KDE Edutainment project</h3>
  109. <p>The KDE Edutainment project is the gate to the world of
  110. the KDE education software. Since version 3.0 of the K
  111. Desktop Environment KDEedu is one of its standard packages.
  112. The homepage enqueues itself seamlessly in the bank of
  113. &lt;KDE-theme&gt; sites. It is build very clear with
  114. a navigation bar at the left side dividing the whole, namely
  115. <i>Learn</i>, <i>Software</i>, <i>Contributed Resources</i>,
  116. <i>Develop</i> and <i>Contact</i> in 5 sections The page is
  117. at the moment available in English only. You will be
  118. explained right on the front page KDEedu want to develop free
  119. education software for kids and teenagers between 3 and 18
  120. (and older) which is integrated in KDE optimally. Underneath
  121. there are listed the news, mostly a link to the monthly
  122. released newsletter which reports about how the project and
  123. the single programs are evolving.</p>
  124. <p>In the second part, <i>Learn</i>, you principally find
  125. information about KDE education software and how you generate
  126. it most suitable and in the best way. In a second item
  127. suggestions are published giving programmers a first idea for
  128. a new piece of education software. Following hereon the
  129. already existing KDE education programs are introduced with a
  130. short description and a small screenshot. Then they list
  131. links to known and related sites on the topic and a todo
  132. section which informs what's not yet done. But this section
  133. is no longer up to date because they implemented already some
  134. of the items. The last item contains links to the newsletters
  135. you can subscribe to right there.</p>
  136. <p>The second item divides the software into categories. And
  137. these are <i>Astronomy</i>, <i>Chemistry</i>,
  138. <i>Languages</i>, <i>Mathematics</i>, <i>Miscellaneous</i>
  139. and <i>Plannig</i>. <i>Astronomy</i> contains the very
  140. extensive program <a
  141. href="">KStars</a> which shows the
  142. nightly starry sky with some 10'000 objects and gives
  143. additional information too. The application <a
  144. href="">Kalzium</a> belongs to
  145. <i>Chemistry</i> offering an informative and clear
  146. presentation of the Periodic Table of the Elements. <a
  147. href="">KHangMan</a> and <a
  148. href="">KMessedWords</a> are
  149. two games which let children learn new words playfully. At
  150. the moment in the section <i>Languages</i> are still a lot of
  151. programs occupying with a specific language or helping you to
  152. learn expressions from another language. Here the tendency
  153. goes partly in the direction of integration of the single
  154. applications what seems to make sense. In the second last
  155. part of the already implemented programs they talk about
  156. mathematical applications as e.g. <a
  157. href="">KGeo</a>, a program for the
  158. simplified presentation and construction of geometric
  159. drawings. Further are available: <a
  160. href="">KBruch</a>, <a
  161. href="">KmPlot</a>, <a
  162. href="">KMathTool</a>, <a
  163. href="">KPercentage</a> and <a
  164. href="">KTimes</a>. Under
  165. <i>Miscellaneous</i> you then can find too <a
  166. href="">KEduca</a>, a programm for
  167. the generation of small tests and <a
  168. href="">KTouch</a>, a hopefully
  169. already known piece of software ;-).</p>
  170. <p><img src="./img/kdeedu.en.png"
  171. alt="Screenshot 3: KDE Edutainment" width="800" height="600"
  172. border="0" /><br />
  173. </p>
  174. <h5>Screenshot 3: KDE Edutainment</h5>
  175. <br />
  176. <br />
  177. <p>Under <i>Contributed Resources</i> the interested <a
  178. href="">Haeckse</a> finds first
  179. graphics and images of funny animals and materials. Actually
  180. an KDEedu contributor offers the generation of 3D images at
  181. programmers option. But there are sounds and noises to
  182. utilise for someone, too. But I think the people of KDEedu
  183. would surely be happy if someone adds anymore creative stuff
  184. to the already existing one. So you don't have to implicitly
  185. be a programmer contributing to Free Software. In the last
  186. item of this section there is still an download facility for
  187. vocabulary lists applicable in the actuel KDEedu
  188. application.</p>
  189. <p>In the fourth and last larger section they show an
  190. specific interest in the development and programming of free
  191. education software. They explain topics such as the access to
  192. CVS and how education programs should be built. For artists
  193. too there are more fillips here. A link to the <a
  194. href="">developer homepage of KDE</a>
  195. [9] guides the interested programmer directly to the center
  196. of the KDE development.</p>
  197. <p>In the last item you find a still more detailed list of
  198. the developers and contributors of the project with more
  199. information and the email adresses of them. The last links
  200. guides then to the two available mailing lists.</p>
  201. <p>If you can see a very informative website. But what I
  202. still miss are the translations in numberous languages, not
  203. only for the homepage, but for the education programs as
  204. well. Though this shouldn't be a negative criticism for the
  205. KDEedu project but more a hint that it isn't nowhere more
  206. important and perhaps more difficult to translate the content
  207. into the different world languages. Nevertheless a large
  208. "thank you" and a lot of success in the future to the
  209. developers and contributors of the KDE Edutainment
  210. project.</p>
  211. <p>But now continues to the last item of this edition.</p>
  212. <h3>"Multiplication-table worksheets generated easily"</h3>
  213. <p>At this place I'll always present an own or the idea of a
  214. reader. Mostly this will be a tool relatively easy to
  215. implement and ease the everyday life for teachers and pupils.
  216. I will always describe the tool as extensive and detailed as
  217. possible and then hope that one or more reader will implement
  218. it and I always can report about the tool in one of the next
  219. editions. In this edition I want to talk about the idea
  220. "Multiplication-table worksheets generated easily":</p>
  221. <p>At primary school the multiplication-table belongs to the
  222. most important things in mathematics and teachers use for
  223. this task mostly worksheets at least at my school time. The
  224. simple multiplication has to be automated and as this it's
  225. very important to solve as much calcules as possible. Mostly
  226. the used sheets contain columns with exercises of the simple
  227. multiplication (til 12 multiplied by 12).</p>
  228. <p>With a little program or scripts and (La)TeX it wouldn't
  229. be as diffcult to automatically generated such worksheets: A
  230. random number generator creates numbers between 1 and 12
  231. which are summarised pairwise to multiplication exercises and
  232. they are braced up to a block with LaTex and the
  233. multiplication sign (middle point) which can be printed. The
  234. teacher only have to invoke the program in the console and
  235. the printer would print a complete exercise sheet
  236. immediatley.</p>
  237. <p>Further features which could be added are for instance:
  238. Printing of a given number of sheets, inserting of a funny
  239. picture, the generation of exercises out of a specific number
  240. range, additional printout of the solution sheet or other
  241. operations than multiplication. All this could be added as an
  242. option invoking the command.</p>
  243. <p>Well that's it with the first edition of
  244. TUX&amp;GNU@school and I hope the lecture of the column was
  245. interesting. By the way the current and all older editions
  246. are available under [10]. So long and write a lot of
  247. criticism ...</p>
  248. <h3>Links:</h3>
  249. <p>[1] <a href="">Homepage of
  250. KTouch:</a><br />
  251. [2] <a href="">Homepage of KDEedu:
  252.</a><br />
  253. [3] <a href="">Homepage of the ALIS:
  254.</a><br />
  255. [4] <a href="">Homepage of
  256. Brave-GNU-World:</a><br />
  257. [5] <a href="">Criticism, questions,
  258. comments and ideas please to:</a><br />
  259. [6] <a href="">Homepage of KDE:
  260.</a><br />
  261. [7] <a href="">Homepage of Debian:
  262.</a><br />
  263. [8] <a href="">German portal of KDE:
  264.</a><br />
  265. [9] <a href="">Developer page of KDE:
  266.</a><br />
  267. [10] <a
  268. href="">Homepage
  269. of TUX&amp;GNU@school:
  270.</a><br />
  271. </p>
  272. <h4>About the author:</h4>
  273. <p>Mario Fux finished 1999 the PrimarlehrerInnenseminar in
  274. Brig after he made up mathematical and natural scientifical
  275. matura. In a body with two colleagues he founded the <a
  276. href="">"ALIS - Arbeitsgruppe Linux an
  277. Schulen"</a> (Swiss work group for linux at school).
  278. Meanwhile he studies at the <a
  279. href="">Swiss Federal Institut of
  280. Technology Zurich</a> <a
  281. href="">informations technology and
  282. electrical engineering</a>. And if he once doesn't spend his
  283. time in front of the PC, he sits at his nature pond in the <a
  284. href="">mountains</a>.</p>
  285. <p align="center"><i>Copyright (c) 2002 Mario Fux. Permission
  286. is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
  287. under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version
  288. 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software
  289. Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts,
  290. and no Back-Cover Texts.<br />
  291. A copy of the license can be found at <a
  292. href=""></a>.</i></p>
  293. </div>
  294. </body>
  295. <timestamp>$Date$ $Author$</timestamp>
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