We need quite a few of them. I had suggested the approximately $200 keyboards that can be downloaded into the computer into a word processor since we need about 200 of these keyboards to allow classes at the various campuses to share the devices.
Buy at least a few of the Alpha Smarts, if at all possible–our teachers have become addicted. They are a great way to allow students to input text without being distracted by all the options available in a word processor. Also, they are so light weight; many teachers choose to take them to meetings over a PowerBook. Finally, they are a wonderful resource for special needs education–they are very sturdy (ours have been dropped many time
If someone else did the work, I suppose the correct solution is for them to include a copy-left agreement a la GNU. I don’t know how you’d enforce such a thing as an individual. A better bet would be to blast the thing out through free distribution channels so the charged-for variant couldn’t compete.
On the other hand, the notion that all kids’ software should be free is silly. Part of the answer to “How else can poor schools afford it?” is that society has to attach as much importance to good educational resources as it does to strong booze and fast cars. Part of the job for educational software is to become good educational resources quality of existing software is certainly a mix–but even good software sells only when there’s paying demand. Economy of scale seems to be the best bet for making it cheap.