Reasons for schools to use Free Software

We should try to keep each point as short as possible. These arguments should be a resource for people who want to approach a school, teacher, or related body to ask them to use Free Software.

Note that this has been converted into an official FSFE leaflet and been translated into numerous languages: http://fsfe.org/about/printable/ and will now serve as the living draft for a newly designed edu leaflet.

If you like to participate and get in contact with the edu-team, please write to edu-team@fsfeurope.org

Draft for the new edu flyer

Intro Text

With the increasing usage of information technology, software competency has become a key skill in modern society. Software is taking an essential part of our lives for the way we communicate, socialise and produce. In the overwhelming majority of sectors and industries, students of all ages require strong IT skills to become employable, productive, and competitive.

Free Software applications provide the best tools for educators. They foster transferable skills and concepts based upon international open standards, rather than familiarity with individual products from particular vendors. Free Software in education upholds scientific principles of participation, collaboration and peer review, and in doing so develops additional learning skills by sharing knowledge and achievements amongst students. Free Software usage also encourages a culture of participating and doing instead of just consuming.

Advantages

Sharing

Schools should teach children to be good members of the community, to help each other and to share with each other. With proprietary software, teachers are required to prevent such sharing and to tell the children that sharing of useful software is wrong. Using Free Software allows schools to set a better example and teach children to share and cooperate and thus join a whole community that shares knowledge.

Equality at home

With free software, teachers can give a copy to each student. Thus parents are not put in a position of making a financial decision, and children of families with less financial resources can learn with the same tools as every other child.

Learning to program

Some children will be interested in how software works, and some will be interested in writing software. When a school uses Free Software, they are in a position to help interested children learn about computers to any depth.

The possibility/freedom to tinker motivates children to learn more.

Learning to use software

Nowadays, it is not enough to know how to use a certain office program. Young employees need the capability to adapt to any software. It's important to understand the concepts underlying a whole category or type of software (such as a spreadsheet or a word-processor), not merely how to use a particular application. The variety of Free Software products teaches exactly this. For a better understanding, a comparison of different concepts and approaches (e.g. LyX/LaTeX vs. Open Office) is invaluable. Free Software permits students to learn how software works and thus how they can make the best use of it. A key skill, demanded by employers.

Independence

If children learn to do things a certain way in school, the easiest way for them to do that thing in their adult life is to continue to do it the same way. If schools teach children to rely on proprietary software, they are giving the child a dependency on something which they have to pay for and which generally discourages sharing and good will in society. However, if a school teaches children to rely on Free Software, the software can never be taken away from the child (even in the child's adult life) and the child can continue using this software while helping others by sharing it.

Using and teaching Free Software also makes the school itself independent from any commercial interests.

No trouble with licenses

With Free Software, there are no worries about expiry dates or costs of the licenses. Free Software stays free in every sense. There is no risk to mislead any child to use an illegal copy (see also: "Equality at home").

Easy to administer

There are several ready-to-use solutions for many use-cases in educational scenarios. Maintenance of Free Software systems is highly automated and hence timesaving. Security and other updates can be implemented in a minute.

Free Software is stable, secure and reliable.

No licence fees

Free Software can save the school money. Since there are no license charges, the money can be use to train the teachers or for technical support to disburden the teachers.

Better use of old hardware

Free Software can be used with minimal hardware requirements on almost any hardware. Thus, it saves money again.

Modifiable, learning in native language

Free Software applications are being translated into almost any language (even into those where a translation could not be afforded by a proprietary software developer). Thus each child can learn and focus on the actual subject without any language barriers. It can even be adopted to local cultural characteristics

Outro Text

Free Software is being successfully used by countless educational institutions worldwide. Many found out that Free Software is not only cheaper, but due to its adaptability, the only solution that fullfills the needs of the school/university. This is happening despite the fact that big cooperations spent large amount of money to ensure that students get used to their products and will have a hard time switching later.

What is Free Software?

In order for a piece of software to be truly Free Software it must grant all four of the four freedoms below:

  1. Use: Software that everyone can run freely,
  2. Sudy: Software that everyone can inspect and adapt to individual needs or whishes.
  3. Share: Software that everyone can copy and share freely.
  4. Improve: Improved versions of the software can be redistributed: the whole community benefits from improvements.

Abut the FSFE

Same page as on tools leaflet. with "Support Our work, etc.

http://download.fsfe.org/advocacy/promomaterial/FStools/leaflet-fs-and-tools.en.pdf

Pictures/Graphics

Possible pics or graphics for the flyer: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:Green_and_white_machine.jpg (CC-by) http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:00034.jpg http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:014_Arahuay.JPG http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:031_Arahuay.JPG http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:9_moyan.jpg http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:Bash-gr-2-vert.jpg http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:Bsh-outside.jpg http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:Cazuca_PrimerDia.jpg http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:IMG_2004.JPG http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:Katane_boys.jpg

Related pages

Sources for further information

comments and sugggestions for new edu flyer

By Paul on discussion@

1. The new curriculum in the UK (http://torbaytechjam.org.uk/curriculu m/ ) has a focus partly on using computers responsibly, so you could argue that using free software comes under this, as you are not taking the irresponsible step of using pirated software for example.

There is also a focus on safety so again by using free software you can examine the software, and make improvements if there are problems, the software is transparent in what it is doing and how it works.

Young rewired state and google summer of code actually encourage participants to release under free licenses, as this encourages collaboration.

From an wider perspective too, taking part in free software projects has benefits for work experience, collaboration and working across borders with people being more concerned with what you contribute than your age, gender, orientation and ethnic background. So there is a lot of equality.

Granted here people still need to be careful as to what information they share, and take the same care about using forums as any where else,

Another hint by Andrés:

I would say when drawing people keep up with it being diverse: race, age, gender, urban tribe,...

Remarks by Nico

Equality at home is larger than cost, also it allows for practice outside of school; for fun, volunteering, or even professionally. Also relates to independence though.

Specific to learning to program is that students can learn by dissecting the projects they use on a daily basis.

Better use of hardware goes another way as well: schools can then afford more computers, or can keep them around longer, so as to enable more extensive software-based schooling.

Maybe include information regarding open standards, allowing easier combination and integration of teaching resources and teaching software (?)

it seems the categorization of the content can be improved. Maybe something like:

  • direct school benefits (cost, easy licensing)
  • indirect school benefits (reuse of old hardware, easy administration)
  • direct student benefits (open for analysis and tinker, ethical sharing, equality at home)
  • indirect student benefits (program-agnostic, learning in native language)

Remarks by Cezary on discussion@

The overall draft is quite good imho, so I would like to focus on importance of arguments.

I think it will be good idea to make some logical groups of arguments. I see a two or three groups now, with headers which should be added to the adequate groups:

1. Benefits of using FS in learning (it applies to both students and teachers). Headers: Sharing, Equality at home, Learning to program, Learning to use software, Independence

2. Gain from using FS for schools to cut costs. Headers: No license fees, Better use of old hardware

3. Advantages of FS for administrators: Headers: Modifiable, Easy to administer

Second and third could be merged, because they are pretty similar. Also headers *No trouble with licenses* and *No license fee* are redundant and should be merged.

I would also want to give my answers to Guido questions asked in ticket[1]: > What are the most important points for the audience? First group I mentioned earlier is most important, especially equality at home, learning to **use software** and independence(this is an issue especially at universities)

> What is the audience? Students and teachers, but also school administration/principals.

> What do we want people to do, after they read the leaflet? Check out FS alternatives and maybe try migrate to them. Maybe it could be a good idea to put links for some most popular projects like LibreOffice, Firefox etc.

Do we have graphics / pictures which help to support this goal? To support independence argument we can use image of locked computer or even better user chained to computer. I find some promising pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/11407107023/ https://pixabay.com/en/privacy-policy-data-security-445156/ https://pixabay.com/en/privacy-policy-keyboard-security-510730/

Best, cmd

possible Software packets to suggest

see also thread on discussion@ in Dec2015

[1] https://action.fsfe.org/ticket/45

comment on Diaspora

https://pod.geraspora.de/posts/4115985

I was looking for a similar flyer for young students and kids interested in programming but did not find the right one. Therefore I improvised during the talk.

I will look deeper into your flyers when I have more time left. For me the most important parts would be: the four freedoms, the social aspect to help your neighbourhood and having fun, free software as a jump base to create secure systems, the possibibilty to get all the programming learning stuff for free,

and some kind of graphic which illustrates the pitfalls in current computers (bios, video driver, wifi ...) maybe a Notebook with some magnifications and text listing the universal backdoors and possible exploits.

another hint on Diaspora

it was suggested to also have a look at this:

https://pod.geraspora.de/posts/4229421


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