Perapera-kun: Chinese Popup Translator and Learning Tool

in his answer to a query concerning learning of CL at the recent REACH forum, PM Lee mentioned two translation tools that can be useful. one is google translate (which i guess i need not mention), and the other is perapera-kun, which works as a firefox add-on. the translations are based on the open source Chinese-English dictionary, CC-CEDICT. i have downloaded, installed and tried it myself, am impressed by the capability of the ability to recognise word and phrase (字词分辨). there are still room for improvements for some translations but as of what it is now, it definitely minimise the need for one to switch to another dictionary software, or to flip a physical desktop dictionary. of cos, learners might start complaining the ‘confusion’ caused by too many definitions given at one glance, but isn’t this a problem of most dictionaries all along? advancement of technologies will one day help us resolve this issue i believe (:

and in case you’ll like to hear PM’s words:

October-November Issue of Innovate

this issue of Innovate has many articles on Open Source Software

The October-November 2006 issue of Innovate (
focuses on the potential of open source software and related trends to
transform educational practice.
Our first four articles map out the current state of open source technology
and offer recommendations for how educational institutions can benefit from
its advances. David Wiley sets the stage by offering a recent history of
the open source movement and discussing its recent impact in the
educational sector. (See )
In turn, Robert Stephenson argues that the community networks established
by open source software initiatives provide a model for similar networks in
the educational sphere. In his commentary Stephenson outlines his concept
of open course communities, a “knowledge ecosystem” in which the
development and assessment of course materials would arise from
technology-enhanced grassroots collaboration among educators, designers,
librarians, and students themselves. (See )
Meanwhile, for many institutions the actual adoption of open source
software still remains an open question; focused advocacy and strategic
foresight thus remain the watchwords in our next two articles. In their
commentary Gary Hepburn and Jan Buley first describe the implementation
strategies available to schools considering open source software, and they
subsequently address the key sociopolitical factors that must be taken into
account by advocates of such implementation. (See )
Patrick Carey and Bernard Gleason note that open source software has
resulted in significant advances in commercial software as well, which has
led to the possibility of adopting modular combinations of open code and
proprietary applications. In order to take full advantage of these trends,
they argue, institutional planners should ensure that their systems provide
an open, standards-based architecture that allows for a flexible range of
software options. (See )
The remaining articles contain detailed accounts of the development,
design, and use of specific open source applications as well as a study of
how the process of open source development provides a valuable model of
pedagogical design in its own right. Toru Iiyoshi, Cheryl Richardson, and
Owen McGrath introduce readers to the KEEP Toolkit, a set of software tools
designed to provide graphic representations of teaching practice and
thereby support focused inquiry into pedagogical strategies. (See )
Harvey Quamen illustrates how he used MySQL software and PHP code to create
a database that streamlines editorial tasks and procedures for a journal on
humanities research. (See )
Kun Huang, Yifei Dong, and Xun Ge propose that the collaborative work
environment of open source development has a distinctively pedagogical
value for instructors. In illustrating this claim, they describe a graduate
computing course in which student teams worked on software design projects
in an online environment modeled after the virtual workspaces of open
source software initiatives. (See )
Finally, in his Places to Go column, Stephen Downes introduces readers to
Intute, an open access Web site that represents a significant step forward
in the evolution of learning object repositories. Through the distinctive
design of its search feature, Intute gives readers free access to a much
broader network of resource providers than typically provided by other
repositories. With its plans to release its own software as open source,
Intute also promises to spur the growth of similar repositories that will
further fuel vital innovations in teaching practice. (See )
Please forward this announcement to appropriate mailing lists and to
colleagues who want to use IT tools to advance their work. Ask your
organizational librarian to link to Innovate in their resource section for
open-access e-journals. Finally, please take advantage of our discuss
feature within each article to add your commentary on this important topic.
James L Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

KEWL.NextGen – an opensource elearning platform

The African Virtual Open Initiative and Resources (AVOIR) project at the University of the Western Cape has kicked off 2006 with an update to its KEWL.NextGen application.
KEWL.NextGen is a free software platform for e-learning developed by members of the project as well as other African developers.
[KEWl.NextGen] includes all the features that one would expect in a modern e-learning platform, including rich content tools, streaming media capability, SCORM compatibility, a large variety of rich assessment tools, presence and community building tools, weblogs, podcasting, wiki, online/offline surveys, Dublin Core Metadata, Creative Commons License integration, integration with LDAP etcetera.
[source: Tectonic]

Finding Open Options

Finding Open Options” — a MSc thesis by Karin van den Berg, touches on a model for OSS evaluation.
The summary is as follows:

The Open Source software market is getting more and more attention. Large IT corporations such as IBM and Novell are investing in Open Source software. Open Source software development is very different from traditional proprietary software. In order to understand Open Source software better, this thesis offers a model for
Open Source software evaluation, which can be used as a tool to find the right software package to meet the user�s needs.
This research project was performed at Tilburg University in the Department of Information Systems and Management. The goal was to get a better understanding of Open Source software and to make the Open Source software process more understandable for those who evaluate this type of software.
An introduction to Open Source software is followed by the Open Source software evaluation model, using the criteria found in Open Source literature.
Community � the driving force behind an Open Source project
Release Activity � showing the progress made by the developers
Longevity � how long the product has been around
License � is one of the general Open Source licenses used
Support � from the community as well as paid support options
Documentation � user manuals and tutorials, developer documentation
Security � responding to vulnerabilities
Functionality � testing against functional requirements
Integration � standards, modularity and collaboration with other products
Goal and Origin � why was the project started and what is the current goal
These criteria form the key terms of the model. The evaluation process is described using these criteria. The practical part of the model consists of two steps. In the first step selection on the candidate list is performed, using four of the above criteria: Functionality, Community, Release Activity and Longevity. These criteria were selected
because they can be evaluated quickly for each candidate in order to eliminate non-viable candidates and select the best ones. This step results in a �short list� of candidates that can be evaluated in depth in the second step, taking a closer look at the software and the project using all ten criteria.
In order to test this model on real Open Source software, a case study was performed on Course Management Systems. In this case study the model is applied on a candidate list of 36 systems, and evaluation is performed on the top two systems found in the selection step. This evaluation led to a clear conclusion. The best system in this
evaluation is the Course Management System called Moodle. The results of the case study are consistent with real life performance of the Course Management Systems.

Indiana paces school Linux use

Taking a huge step toward its goal of a computer for every high school student, Indiana will introduce 1,600 new desktop computers running Linux-based operating systems and software in its classrooms this fall. The program could be the largest such undertaking involving open-source software ever carried out in U.S. schools.
… …
Indiana officials say using Linux-based systems will enable them to save what could amount to millions of dollars on operating systems and software. If successful, the state’s open-source initiative could serve as a model for other states or districts around the nation to follow.
For the full article, read it on eSchoolNews