How can you learn Linux yourself

Homeschooling with Linux - The best tools

Stephan Lamprecht

As part of the pandemic fight, the schools were regularly closed. But by no means every school was prepared for the cancellation of face-to-face teaching. We'll introduce you to programs and tools that students can use to study at home.

EnlargeGeogebra is certainly a temptation for younger students, because the curve of an equation can be drawn at the push of a button.

Many parents first encountered the term “distance learning” in 2020. Since schools were closed completely or partially in order to reduce the number of infections, the pupils should now study in their own four walls. That works more or less well, because at its core the success of learning from a distance is not only a question of tools or online platforms, but also depends on the respective educator. In this article, we will introduce some applications that will make home learning easier. The Linux desktop offers many options for learners of all ages, with whom they can learn and work independently. Most of the apps are so simple that you can work productively with them immediately after installation.

Geogebra helps with math

Mathematics lessons represent a major challenge in many households. It is true that it is always said that learning is not for school but for life. But if you already lacked a mathematical talent as a student, decades after graduating from high school, you will hardly shake the first derivation of a function off your sleeve. This is where Geogebra comes in. The program covers all relevant areas of mathematics: geometry, statistics, vectors and analysis.

At its core, Geogebra is a drawing and construction program for mathematics. So it is of course also suitable for cheating. Simply enter the equation in the input line and press the enter key, seconds later the graph of the function is neatly transferred to the coordinate system.

But of course that's not what the creators want. Precisely because the software is so versatile, it is an excellent means of repeating what has been learned, practicing and immediately checking the correct solution. Geogebra also has a large and active community. There are numerous examples and tasks on the Internet that clearly illustrate how mathematical proofs can be carried out with them. There is nothing here for primary school students, but the material from secondary levels 1 and 2 should be shown in full. The program was developed in Java, which can also be seen in a somewhat dated user interface. Since this is an application that has been tried and tested for many years, it should be included in the package sources of most distributions, so it can be installed quickly. There is also a purely online version available.

Working with Geogebra is an interplay of the various program elements. For example, the graph of a function can be quickly output via the input line. Then use the point tool to select, for example, a point that lies on the curve. Then select the tangent tool, click the point and then the function. The correct entries are explained in detail using the help function.

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Anki and Parley: You have to play drums

EnlargeAnki is a classic trainer for vocabulary and technical terms. In order to optimize the repetitions, you should assess your answers realistically.

Even the most modern teaching methods will not spare the learners from having to simply access technical terms and vocabulary in school, training and university. There are quite a few applications for Linux that can help with this task. Anki works across platforms, so has the advantage that the content is then also available on other systems.

The program is a classic card box in digital form. Using the software is correspondingly easy. When learning, the question is shown, which is then answered from the head. This is then compared with the stored answer. Input via the keyboard is not provided. So when it comes to spelling the vocabulary correctly, Anki is not well suited. For learning success, it is important to assess yourself correctly when answering the question. There is also a small evaluation scale at the bottom of the learning card. "Simple" means, for example, that the question was felt to be too easy. If you go through the “stack” again, a question graded in this way will be displayed at larger intervals. “Again” marks an entry as a wrong solution. This means one more pass. Anki is very flexible when it comes to designing the contents of the card. You can also store audio files, for example, in order to check the pronunciation. Anki manages the stacks of flash cards in the form of a sqlite database.

You can populate the software manually if you wish. To do this, switch to the “Batch” area and click on “Create Batch”. In any case, it is worthwhile to be guided to the download area of ​​the project page by clicking on "Download batch". Because there you will find countless flashcards in different languages. Including some elements in German. You download the file locally and then accept it with a double click. Finally, there is also the option of maintaining the content in a spreadsheet in order to read it in as a text file (CSV export). The program automatically recognizes the separators used. It is only important that the text file was encoded as UTF-8, otherwise there will be illegible characters.

If a “vocabulary trainer” is to be a little more colorful, Parley is also recommended. The software is part of the KDE learning package, so a number of additional libraries must be installed on other desktops.

The advantage: If necessary, you can access countless lists of vocabulary and content, including a large selection of German-language material. There are also lists for the Latin language here. In principle, these files can also be converted into the desired target format for another trainer using other applications. At Parley, you can save yourself the hassle. You can access the collections directly from the main software screen via "Download new collections". The training is then started with "Practice". Depending on the structure of the collection, certain lessons can be deselected, and the learning direction can also be determined. Parley also goes beyond Anki in that written processing is also provided.

Classic Gcompris for little people

EnlargeThe surface of Gcompris is colorful and suitable for children. The offer is very varied and reaches children from pre-school to the end of primary school.

Students in the higher grades will have enough activity at home simply because of the abundance of their material. This is not necessarily the case with the younger students. When kindergartens and day care centers for preschool children are closed, the offspring remain inquisitive and want to be kept busy - not an easy task when parents want to be productive in the home office at the same time. With the classic Gcompris, parents can put their children in front of the Linux computer without hesitation. The software is child-friendly, nothing can be broken and the range of activities and tasks is huge. The software offers games and tasks for children between the ages of three and ten years, so it is equally suitable for preschool and elementary school. There are, for example, individual experiments: the little lock keeper has to open the lock gates in the correct order so that Tux can take the boat. The little explorers can find out more about the earth's water cycle or simply play memory. The illustrations are lovingly designed and colorful.

Preschoolers may prefer to deal with letters and numbers. Here Tux and his friends can help you count or paint letters correctly. And then arithmetic and spelling are on the agenda for elementary school.

EnlargeGcompris explains playfully: Here the lock can only be passed if the gates are opened in the correct order.

The actions for the youngest will certainly be interpreted correctly even without reading skills. For other tasks, the parents have to read the task briefly. The combination of playing and learning creates many incentives, promotes cognitive knowledge and bridges the time until the next lesson.

Gcompris can be installed in the package sources of most distributions and therefore problem-free.

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