Any Free/open Database software suitable for KS1 (8 yr olds)?
I'm new to this forum - am a programmer-turned-manager working in ICT in UK HE/FE, with a free/open source background.
My mum is starting a new job teaching KS1 and she's been asked to cover ICT. She's not as technically illiterate as she likes to make out - is fine with email and the web and all the MS Office stuff.
But the curriculum she has to cover next term is about databases - an introduction to the basic concepts, how and why databases work. Well, I can sit her down and clue her up about the basics.
But to get things working in the classroom she needs a software package that's suitable for 8 year olds.
I've seen 2simple's 2investigate package online - Mum used some of the 2simple suite at a previous school, and likes it. But her school is tight for cash and is not likely to cough up for license fees for it, or for MS Access either.
What are the alternatives for a database package that's suitable for an "average" 8 year old?
I know there are visual interfaces like phpmyadmin, pgadmin to Postgres and MySQL - but they are all a bit too "close to the metal", good if you understand the basics of how databases work already, but not as a teaching aid for the fundamentals...
There's also online platforms like freebase or Google Spreadsheets, but the QCA teaching material I have seen really demands a SQL-capable database, not just a spreadsheet (Is it unrealistic of me to expect 8yr olds to learn SQL? I don't think so...) and they have unfriendly interfaces.
I've looked round free and open source educational resources sites a bit, but they mostly seem to focus on the basics - operating systems, word processing, or little maths and language learning toys
- I haven't seen *anything* much directed at the age group between early years and secondary school.
Every child in the UK is doing this database bit of the national curriculum, right? How do others cope?
My choices now are persuading her to let the kids emulate a database with pieces of coloured paper (which would be fun, and worth doing anyway) or trying to write a friendly, funky front-end to MySQL or Firebird myself (which might also be fun, or worth doing anyway).
Any related experiences would be gladly listened to.
Thanks, I'll try Mum on it and see how it works out
Teejay, thanks for this - I had never noticed the Base part of OpenOffice before.
A test drive seems a bit fiddly, but it will help me to get the concepts across to my Mum, then she can make the judgement call on whether her 8-yr-olds can handle the interface...
Still think they would be better off acting out sorting algorithms with pieces of paper ;)
Looking outside the tabular box a bit
Thanks @chillbear, that's interesting, a bit more like freebase, dbpedia etc. But very US-focused and perhaps a bit forbidding to kids.
I would also wonder about data protection type concerns in using public services, as I would imagine kids will want to create data models that are meaningful to them, contain information about their lives.
Another problem in using something like Socrata, or Google Spreadsheets etc, is that everyone needs to sign up, kids won't have in-school email addresses or be able to access their out-of-school ones in the classroom.
I also saw this yesterday, knowledge-mapping software developed at the Open University - read some blog entries from parents who had been using it to structure arguments with their own kids, to persuade them why they could not get another cat!
The Open University : KMi : Compendium : Screencasts
That has a lot more appeal to me than "let's arrange data in a table, sort it in different orders, and press a button to draw a bar chart" - which might as well be a paper exercise, or a few lines of Logo. Mind mapping, linked data, social graphs, etc - the information processing world seems to have moved on a bit since the national curriculum for IT was last updated in 2000 ;)
@michael - Mum wants to find something free for economic reasons - but I would like to find something free for ideological reasons. :)
I am amazed at the responsiveness and helpfulness of this forum - I will have to find an excuse to stick around - hoping to make it down to BETT for a day, just to indulge my growing curiosity about the world of software for schools.