ELDER Project: More than just a Computer Project, A Doorway to Social Change


ELDER Project: More than just a Computer Project, A Doorway to Social Change

– Ontario

Monday, 14 November 2011, 02:43 PM

More than just a Computer Project: A Doorway to Social Change

By Michael Mak

Children are avid and skilled explorers of technology – they amaze everyone what they know or what they can do with a laptops, cell phones, mp3 devices or even the internet.

However, having computers and hardware is only one part of the solution. Without the appropriate software or electronic resources, it is difficult for children to be fully engaged and curious about the wonders and abilities of technology. Computers in classrooms are not only meant for using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint presentations, or surfing the web – they can be used constructively to improve literacy, numeracy, and even teach beginner’s computer programming!

KiHS Students

The homepage of the ELDER site

The Educational Linux Distribution Electronic Resource (ELDER) Project is a grassroots community movement that dedicates itself to providing curriculum ready, user friendly, and supported and most importantly FREE educational software tools for teachers, parents and students.

ELDER will also include lesson plans and video tutorials, so that these tools can be implemented with ease and used anywhere, anytime. Finally, ELDER will forever stay free and open source – so that anyone can contribute, have access to, and improve for generations to come!

ELDER is a project for everyone, by everyone. We sincerely hope that it can contribute to the learning, success and health of northern students, schools and communities in the future.

ELDER screenshot

Project Goals

The aim of ELDER is to provide educators, parents and students with learning systems that contains the best free software available in education and child-friendly entertainment. Currently, the ELDER project is working to:

  • Install open-source educational software in interested rural and remote schools in Ontario
  • Create lesson plans for teachers and video tutorials on how to install and use software
  • Develop an electronic open-source library with videos and books to serve as resources for teachers and students


What does it mean for First Mile technology development?

Open Source technology can be equated with “freedom” not only because the technology itself is free for anyone to use and distribute, but it also means it is free to adapt and change to the needs of communities and schools that use them. It starts directly with community need, where educators, students and parents can identify improvements that they wish to see in their classroom computers.


Through active collaboration with K-NET and other community partners, open source software can be appropriately selected and distributed along with clear instructions for installation along with the appropriate technical assistance. This allows for collective growth amongst First Nation communities, as different individuals gaining experience with the software can easily share, teach, and work with others without it. No longer do program licences or Internet downloading speeds hinder collaboration or accessibility; open source software can be shared or copied through a CD or USB.

And with hundreds of programs tailored for artists, musicians, educators or even for simple gaming pleasures open source software has something for everyone.

Simple, yet powerful: open source technology with ELDER drives First Mile technological development within First Nation communities.

Find out more