Finding and Downloading Free Software
There is a large collection of software that can be downloaded and used for individual purposes "free" of charge. This activity helps you locate Websites that have large databases of shareware you can download that cover many educational areas-everything from weather-simulation programs to HyperCard learning environments.
- Learn where to find "free" educational software.
- Learn how to download "free" educational software.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: none.
- Special software requirements: none.
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,800 BPS via phone) or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
If you are looking for specific shareware, and you know what the shareware program is called, your best bet is to use the search functions at the shareware Websites to find and download it. If you don't know the name, many of these Websites maintain their own directories of available shareware that you can browse until you find what you want. Be sure to check the publisher's requirements for fair use of the shareware so you won't be violating their copyright policies when you use it. We also encourage you to register or purchase the software if you use it regularly or for any purposes outside your individual use.
Follow these steps to find and download the shareware program you need:
- If you know the title you're looking for, use one of the shareware search engines (such as the one at ShareWare.Com) and type in the title plus the type of computer environment you're using. Once you find the shareware title, click on it to download it. (Depending on the size of the program, and the speed of your Internet connection, it may take a long time to download.) Once the program has been downloaded, use whatever decompress software is appropriate for your computer (UnZip for the PC Zip files or Unstuff for Mac .hqx files). [Note: Netscape issues a copy of StuffIt Expander with version 3 of Navigator. All Mac Internet users should have Expander. With Expander in the file path of Netscape, all decoding and decompressing occurs automagically.] Once you have downloaded and uncompressed the software, install it according to the instructions included.
- If you don't know what shareware programs are available, use the browse feature at a shareware Website (see Internet Resources below for a list of Websites) to locate the programs available. Follow the instructions above when you want to download and install a program.
- If you don't find what you're looking for with the browse feature, use the search function and type in something that should match your needs. For example, if you're looking for chemistry software at the ShareWare.Com Website, typing in "chemistry" and selecting "Macintosh" generates a large list of downloadable shareware programs. Browse through the list and download those you're interested in.
- Hands-on Example: Using one of the shareware Websites, search for educational software of interest to you. For example, searching for "chemistry" for PC/Windows computers in the ShareWare.Com Website results in ten programs available for downloading.
- Association for Shareware Professionals
The ASP maintains a variety of helpful resources for shareware developers and for shareware users. Be sure to check out the ASP Shareware Catalog for the shareware programs available.
A searchable database of Macintosh shareware at MIT.
- Jumbo Shareware
A large collection (over 45,000 at last count) of shareware programs available for downloading.
- STAR - Shareware Trade Association Resources
"The Shareware Trade Association and Resources' WWW Site is the best place to download the very latest program versions; uploaded by some of over 100 North American and European member authors-including some of Shareware's leading luminaries. " STAR has a searchable database of shareware programs, an on-line forum for shareware discussions, membership information, news, and publications.
Perhaps the largest shareware library on the planet, ShareWare.Com includes a search feature where you can search for software by computer type (PC DOS, PC/Windows, PC/Windows/95, Macintosh, etc.), browse their directory of shareware titles, look at the most popular shareware titles, and download tips and tools for Internet survival.
- The Shareware Shop
The Shareware Shop has sections on shareware listings, shareware want ads, featured shareware, reviews of shareware programs and a newsletter - "the Shareware NewsWire."
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