Free Software at Albany Senior High School/Appendix 1

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

This section on software used at ASHS was composed by repackaging the page e-learning at ASHS.

Server/Hosted Software

Web-based Services
ASHS start page

ASHS's start page is a customisable launch point to most of the available tools.

Email, Documents and Calendars
  • ASHS's email is hosted by Google[1], and is available from the school's e-mail server or by clicking the 'Email' link from the Start Page.
  • Calendar allows staff to create events, invite people and edit documents together.
  • Documents takes the user to ASHS's Google Docs which may be created, edited and shared online. Documents may be downloaded for local editing and uploaded to Google Docs (see Google Docs in plain english).
Intranet Homepage
ASHS uses the libre[2] learning management system Moodle[3]. With Moodle educators can create web-based courses design learning activities using such features as discussion forums, glossaries, wikis, questionnaires, crosswords, cloze exercises, matching pairs, reading books, quizzes, etc.. ASHS is involved with the active Moodle for New Zealand Schools community.
e-portfolio system
Screenshot-Koha - Open Source Library Management - MyPortfolio - Mozilla Firefox.png
ASHS uses the libre[4] e-portfolio system Mahara, hosted by the Ministry of Education at My portfolio allows students to upload 'artefacts' such as blog posts, files, images, comments, videos and audio; construct 'views' (e-portfolios), share them with teachers, family and Whānau and potential employers. Mahara is very student-directed with the learners retaining control over what is showcased and to whom it is showcased.

For specific information about creating and sharing an e-portfolio, see ASHS's e-portfolios page on WikiEducator.

Library Management system
Koha is ASHS's integrated library system, and it is accessible from

Using Koha, students and staff can search for books, magazines, music, DVDs and videos. After logging in users can check their borrowing history, renew and reserve items online, write reviews and rate items (up to 5 stars). Koha also supports user-generated tagging of items, RSS feeds, private and public reading lists and a new recommendations feature. This adds a link to every item detail page that, when clicked, says 'X people who read this also read... ' enabling readers to find books similar to ones they have enjoyed in the past.

Video Library
Our video server, powered by Plumi.
ASHSWe has a digital video library called Ourtube. This works in a similar way to Youtube, allowing people to upload and share videos. It is based on the libre[2] content management system Plumi, and was built by two students as part of an impact project. Ourtube is also linked to ASHS's identity provider so staff and pupils may view and upload videos from any computer in the world.
Internet Filtering

ASHS has a Trapeze wireless network which runs 801.11N wireless (54mbps). There are two wireless networks: one for staff (ASHS-users) and one for students (ASHS-public). Internet access is via fibre optic connection to the Vector NEAL loop at 100mbps. Watchdog[5] is used to filter internet traffic.

Additional Storage

Ubuntu One: Canonical offers all Ubuntu users 2GB of free cloud storage. Any files (e.g. documents, media files, contacts, etc.) placed in the Ubuntu One folder (on the laptop or desktop PC for example) will be synchronised with a space in the cloud and accessed on any other computer after logging in to Ubuntu One. This enables students to work on any files at school, at home, at Mum and Dad's work, the local library etc.

Student Management

KAMAR is non-free, but it is the student management system in use. Tutorials on how to use KAMAR are available on the ASHS intranet (login required).

Albany Senior High School has a SAML-based identity provider. SAML and OpenID are used to authenticate users against a number of their key web-based services. This means it is very easy for other schools to hook into their e-learning environments including:

Google hosted apps[6] | Digital Signage | Social bookmarking | Microblogging | Koha library management system.

ASHS has set up a consortium installation of Koha that allows other schools to join theirs as 'independent branches'. It enables schools to share the ASHS codebase in order to make use of features like 5-star ratings, recommendations and federated searching of Google Scholar, e-book and audiobook sites and video libraries.

Student-built Tools

Student-built tools
'OurMicroblog', powered by StatusNet

ASHS has a microblogging site, powered by the libre[4] application StatusNet and linked into their identity provider, so anyone with an ASHS username and password can use it without having to set up an account. Microblogging is useful for impact projects when teachers and project managers need to be able to see what all team members are working on, even when they are in different parts of the school or even the city. Microblogging is also a useful tool for students and teachers to share questions, answers, ideas and resources when learning. (Built by students for students.)

Social bookmarking
Pligg, the open source social bookmarking site.

ASHS has a social bookmarking solution, based on Pligg[4]. This allows everyone in the school to save, share and find bookmarks that are use to them and their learning. Pligg supports tagging, RSS feeds, recent bookmarks etc. (Built by students for students.)

Digital Signage
Our digital signage system, powered by Xibo.

ASHS uses a digital signage system around the school that scrolls notices and runs slideshows of student work. The Xibo server[4] runs on a LAMP server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and is controlled by a web-based front end. Client computers connect to that server and display the content on what are essentially external monitors. There is a client machine in the server room. VGA over LAN is used to send content out to network jacks located near 42" screens; the signal gets converted back to VGA before being sent to the screen. This system was set up by a group of students as part of an impact project and is available to other schools who wish to use it. (Built by students for students.)

Desktop Software

Operating System
Ubuntu 10.04

All of the school computers run the Ubuntu GNU/Linux operating system. GNU/Linux is an alternative to Windows Vista or Windows 7, or Apple's OSX, etc.. It runs many of the same programmes that these other operating systems run. GNU/Linux has a number of advantages over other systems in terms of speed and security, but the main reason ASHS uses GNU/Linux is because it is libre software. This means that learners can install the software on any computer they have access to gratis and with no legal implications.

Office software is a suite of applications combining a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation tools (Impress), drawing tool (Draw), database (Base) and an equation editor (Math). OpenOffice opens, edits, saves and closes a wide range of document formats, including Microsoft Office.

Mind Mapping

Freemind is available and used widely in the school. @@examples?

How to crop a photo with GIMP

GIMP[2] is a Graphic Image Manipulation Program. It is primarily employed as an image retouching and editing tool. In addition to free-form drawing, GIMP can accomplish essential image work-flow steps such as resizing, editing, and cropping photos, combining multiple images, and converting between different image formats. GIMP can also be used to create basic animated images. At present, GIMP is usable for amateur or professional work with images intended for viewing on monitors and printing on ink-jet printers.


Inkscape[2] is a libre vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. Its stated goal is to become a powerful graphics tool while being fully compliant with the XML, SVG, and CSS standards. Inkscape is under active development, with new features being added regularly. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format. Inkscape is used in a lot of very different projects (web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps). For example, thousands of images on Wikipedia are created with Inkscape, as is the majority of the content on openclipart.


Scribus is a page layout application used for Desktop publishing. Scribus' publishing features include, CMYK color, separations, Spot Colors, ICC color management and PDF creation. Scribus is designed for flexible layout and typesetting and the ability to prepare files for professional quality image setting equipment. It can also create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms. Example uses include writing small newspapers, brochures, newsletters, posters and books.


Dia can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many others. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape. It can load and save diagrams to a custom XML format (gzipped by default, to save space), can export diagrams to a number of formats, including EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG, and can print diagrams (including ones that span multiple pages).

Blender 3D
Blender 3D

Blender is a free 3D graphics application that can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, water and smoke simulations, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, or visual effects. Blender's features include advanced simulation tools such as rigid, realistic body, fluid, cloth and softbody dynamics, modifier-based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, a node-based material and compositing system and Python for embedded scripting.


Educational Software

Media Editing
Multimedia is an important part of today's learning landscape. Our brains are better designed to interpret images and stories than they are letters and numbers on a page. As such, visual and aural tools are fundamental to effective learning. The following are included on ASHS computers.

Luciole (Firefly) is a free stop-motion capture studio dedicated to the creation of animated films. Originally designed for the needs of schools, it is used by students from kindergarten to high schools. Future developments should enable it to integrate a soundtrack to allow the editing of video outside external video editing application (management of transitions, effects, credits and multiple bands sounds, sound etc.).


Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for multiple platforms. Audacity is used to:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.


PiTiVi is a video editing application that exports natively to the free ogv video format. It is very useful for trimming, splitting and joining clips, but doesn't have much support for effects or titles as yet.

Openshot video editor
OpenShot Video Editor

OpenShot Video Editor is a libre, non-linear video editor for GNU/Linux, built with Python, GTK, and the MLT Framework. The project was started in August 2008 by Jonathan Thomas, with the objective to provide a stable, free, and friendly to use video editor. Features include:

  • Support for many video, audio, and image formats (based on FFmpeg)
  • Drag and drop clips
  • Multiple tracks
  • Clip resizing, trimming, snapping, and cutting
  • Video transitions with real-time previews
  • Compositing, image overlays, watermarks
  • Title templates, title creation, including scrolling motion picture credits

A more advanced non-linear editor. Kino's vision is: "Easy and reliable DV editing for the Linux desktop with export to many usable formats." The program supports many basic video editing and assembling tasks.


VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder, and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and file formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It is able to stream over networks and to transcode multimedia files and save them into various formats.


NtEd is a score editor for Linux. Use it to compose, record and playback music.


Other media tools installed and/or used at ASHS include:

  • Amarok
  • Audacity
  • Cheese: webcam viewer
  • GTKRecordmydesktop
  • LMMS
  • Hydrogen drum machine
  • Jokosher
  • Muse
  • Rosegarden

  1. Google's gratis services for e-mail, documents and calendars are not libre (the source code is not available) and their use raises other issues associated with software as a service (see for example Who does that server really serve?).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The software is released under the GNU General Public License or related license. A non-exhaustive list of libre software licenses is maintained by the Free Software Foundation:
  3. Moodle home page:
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The software is released under the GNU Affero General Public License or related license. A non-exhaustive list of libre licenses is maintained by the Free Software Foundation:
  5. @@More information required ?? Please expand on WatchDog....
  6. Not on the ASHS domain, but as an integrator for schools to use with their own domain.