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Published May 6, 2012 | Multidisciplinary

A Directory of Free Software or Shareware Classified Using the ICT Profile for College Students

In the world of education, there is a multitude of 'free' software. The blog WordPress, that teachers can use in the Profweb Personal Space, as well as Moodle, which many teachers know, is free software. The world of education can also benefit from shareware like Skype , the search engine Google and Google Docs. Before going further, one might ask what distinguishes free software from shareware?

The term "free software" means, basically, users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html). Most free software is free, but users are invited  to contribute financially to development or technical support (minimal cost).

Shareware, meanwhile, is usually owned by someone (a consortium or other): You can use  this software as you wish, but you can not modify and distribute it.

In Quebec, the Treasury Board (Conseil du trésor) established a policy dating from late 2010 which encourages, among other things, the education network to consider the use of free software. It was in this perspective that a team of the IT Representatives' Network chaired by Pierre Cohen-Bacrie of Collège Montmorency created a directory of free software and shareware for teachers, students and other staff of the college system. The resulting web document makes a list of free software or shareware available as an alternative to commercial software used for academic purposes in colleges.

In order to facilitate identification, free software or shareware has been classified according to the tertiary level of skills contained within the ICT Profile for College Students:

  • On each page where skills are listed, click on the tertiary skill level which is of interest (for example 2.2.1 -> Create concept maps or concept networks): you can access the associated list of free software or shareware as well as the blog entry or Profweb story highlighting the use of any such software and the download address.
  • On the software page, click on the software of interest to access the list of associated tertiary level skills for each software, the description of the skill, the main function of the software, the link to the story or blog that highlights its use in the context of higher education in Quebec, and the download address.

Contribute to the Free Software and Shareware Website

Currently, all entries are in French, but suggestions are welcome in English.

Do you use shareware or free software that could be advantageously used in college? You can contribute to enrich the repertoire by visiting this page and adding information taking the following guidelines into account:

  1. Limit yourself to free software or shareware.
  2. You must have used this software in higher education in Quebec, or know someone who has.
  3. Enter the program name and briefly describe its function.
  4. Insert a link to download the program.
  5. Indicate a blog, an article or Profweb story that describes the software features and suggests some avenues for its use within higher education in Quebec.
  6. Associate the software with a tertiary skill level in the ICT Profile for College Students.
  7. Include your name and your school

As mentionned by our colleague Pierre Cohen-Bacrie, we are confident that this eminently practical cross-referenced online list will be appreciated! Currently, all entries are in French, but suggestions are welcome in English. Links in this column are to the English version of the ICT Profile for College Students and references to Profweb stories in English are valid.

On your side, what do you think of free software or shareware? Do you see a future for it in the college network or do you use the usual commercial software (eg: Microsoft Office)? We look forward to reading your comments!

About the Author

Nicole Perreault She began her college career as a Psychology Teacher and Education Advisor at Collège André-Grasset. She was then the Director of APOP and the CLIC newsletter before becoming an Education Advisor at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. Since 2005, she is pleased to be the Community Manager for the Réseau des REPTIC (IT Representatives Network) which brings together ICT Education Advisors from across the college network. She has written numerous articles and given many workshops on the pedagogical use of technology. Their integration within the context of student success is a subject that she finds particularly interesting.

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