The range and the stability of free software has improved and is improving. Here are some, recommended by Jack Kenny,  that you might not have discovered yet.


One teacher told me: “Jing takes the pain out of explaining processes on a computer. I can explain how to do something on the computer and record the explanation which is then available so that I don’t have to keep repeating it.” The free program enables any one to make a short recording of activity on the desk top. It also enables students to create explanations too.  Simple and ingenious.


Free, high-quality word processors are so common now that it is difficult to decide which one to use. Google Docs has been taken up by some schools as their basic for document creation and sharing. Probably the most elegant and sophisticated is Buzzword from Adobe.  The virtue of the online word processor is that you always have the latest version and it is available anywhere that you have an online connection. I would argue that no one has done it as beautifully as Adobe.



ReadPlease (for Windows) will read back to you any the text that you have written.  You can even choose the voice that software reads in. Invaluable for proof-reading. This is probably the piece of free software that I use most frequently.


Photoshop.comPhotoshop Express

The fact that Photoshop Express exists seems to be a well kept secret. The free version of Adobe's flagship program, which has just become a part of, has some limited editing tools but is beautifully designed. It also offers 2Gb of space in which to store your images.



Ted Nelson, who invented the term "hypertext", says: “Hyperwords breaks the iron prison of the web browser.”  What it does is make practically every word in Firefox into a linked word.  Click on a word and you will be transported. It is hoped that later this year Hyperwords will be extended to Windows.



This is an astounding site that enables anyone to make movies. The effects that it enables you to do and the ease with which you can do it are impressive. This is the kind of software that makes you look back to see how far we have come and to look forward to envisage the future.


Designed in Sheffield, Anithings says that it "is a brand new children's creativity tool. It enables animated stories to be created simply and quickly, allowing children's creativity to run wild."  The intention is to eventually make it a paid-for product but in the mean time just enjoy it.



With software of this quality there is little reason why anyone should pay out for mind-mapping software. Brilliant.



Evernote is a ragbag where you can store anything - files, graphics, images, sounds, videos - as you wander round the Internet. Then you can interrogate the software to relocate what you stored. The astounding thing is that if you have any images with words visible it will even bring those to your attention.



This is a major piece of software. Since meeting, some time back, Mark Shuttleworth, the brains and inspiration behind Ubuntu, it has been good to watch the development of this wonderful software. The latest version is impressive.  Find an older machine and run it on that.  If you don't want to download the files, you can always get a free disk.  You will find that it breathes life into a middle aged computer and will give you an insight into how far open source has gone.

Jack Kenny is a freelance journalist and chair of examiners for English with Edexcel. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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