Some Solutions to the Software Problem for Teachers

Copyright 1999 by James P. Riser

The problem:

The problem as I see it is of finances. Teachers are extremely underpaid and can barely afford a good computer - let alone the desired software. I have long wanted a good laptop for development and presentations. Due to finances, that may never happen. No school district that I ever worked for offered me a computer or software for development uses. In addition to the cost of the computer, the software can easily exceed the cost of this computer. The goal is to obtain software which will let the teacher do the desired work; but will be inexpensive. This software must all be legal - nothing pirated! What I have done is to nose around and collect software which works well for me and allows me to create the activities that I want for my students. In order to help other teachers, I have decided to share what I have found. Since I switched to the PC platform a couple years ago, my software needs/desires were for that platform only. Many of the software solutions that I will describe are available for the Mac, too.

My solution:

I will break the software solutions I have uncovered into groups according to uses:

Videoconferencing - iVisit and CU-SeeMe are both available free (there is a color commercial version of CU-SeeMe).

Browsers - Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are the two main browsers (both free). Also worth consideration is Opera (shareware $35, I think).

Web page creation - AOLpress will give you powerful WYSIWYG web publishing (free). The two browsers above will also allow web page creation. Many ISPs are bundling web page authoring software. I even have a CD from Earthlink that has a Claris HomePage Lite on it. Looking around will produce free or cheap solutions. There are many free HTML authoring programs listed on the web.

WebCam - Webcam 32 ($25) and Ispy (free) are both good for creating your own webcam site. DigiCam software (free) will allow you to quickly/easily go to selected webcams (free).

Art and imaging software - Bryce2 (came with a back issue of PC Format magazine); Fractal Design3 (came with a back issue of PC Format magazine); FreeHand5 (came with a back issue of PC Format magazine); IMSI TurboCAD
(free); Scion Image (free); Corel 5 (came bundled free with my computer - has a nice simple animation component); UTHSCSA Image Tool (free); Adobe Photo Deluxe 2, Easy Photo 2.7, Photoshop LE (all came bundled with another software or hardware item); Morph (bundled), Photo Morph 2 (bundled); Quick & Easy CAD ($10); Qpict32 (free with QuickCam); Imdisp (free), Painter 3 (free).

Digital video - QuickTime 3 ($30); PictureWorks Spin Panorama (bundled); Ulead Photo Express 2 SE, Ulead VideoStudio 3 (bundled with my Dazzle DVC unit); Qmovie32 (free with QuickCam); Real Player Gx (free) , MGI VideoWave Suite II (bundled)

Business - StarOffice Suite 5.2 - this does it all! (free).

Sound editing - Smart Sound for Multimedia (bundled)

System Dynamics - Vensim (free)

File transfer (FTP) - WS_FTP95 LE (free)

Science - Nine Worlds (came with an issue of PC Format magazine); Skyimage (shareware); Skymap 32 (shareware)

Closing remarks:

In addition to the above I utilize purchased programs such as Podium, HyperStudio, PageMill, and HomePage. Looking over the above programs, you will notice that I attempt to get bundled software whenever possible. Obtaining the very latest version of software is not a major concern. Often older versions are given away to tempt users to upgrade. These older versions usually meet my needs. These older versions are often included with magazines. These older versions run on older computers!

I hope the above information will help others to obtain useful and versatile software at affordable prices. Happy hunting.