Its been out for a while now, but I can't help but think being able to carry around a complete set of software (open source / freeware) on a 2 Gb USB stick is an excellent addition to any student or academics learning and teaching arsenal.
What is it? As explained on the AccessApps site:
'AccessApps is an initiative supported by the JISC Regional Support Centres (RSC) and JISC TechDis. It consists of over 60 open source and freeware Windows applications, running from a USB stick...[which] provides a range of solutions to support writing, reading and planning as well as sensory, cognitive and physical difficulties.'
All such initiatives are based around the concept of 'accessibility', which is essentially all about making products, services or devices available and usable to as many people as possible. If its useful to you, then why not use it. Probably one of the trickiest things for most academics to balance is ensuring that students have the required software and files are transferable! The majority of universities provide the necessary software on campus, but what about working on your own laptop or from home? This is where I think AccessApps comes in handy.
So what software does it have? A detailed guide is provided, however I think describing 60 apps is beyond the scope of this blog, so I'll limit this to a few. Firsty and notably OpenOffice features in the software list, and yes as the name suggest its free and also compatible with Microsoft Office files.
OpenOffice has come along leaps and bounds in its many years of development, so don't think that because its free its not going to work. What about a mind mapping software? Well also contained in AccessApps is Freemind again a rather good piece of software to get your students brainstorimg, keeping track of projects or essay writing to name a few. Or maybe they need to split up their podcasts or audiobooks into manageable chunks, Audiobook Cutter maybe just the answer. Perhaps you need to create your own web pages, but dont have the time to learn all the HTML? Then KompoZer is also available.
Where do I get the software?
It does mention the word 'registration', but this is simply an email address, nothing more and you can then happily download the full suite for free.