Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The best things in life are free - Software Freedom Day

Sometimes people say in response to free software, you get what you pay for. They are thinking about free beer and not freedom. The best things in life are free and often free in both senses of the word, free as in beer and free as in freedom.

We had a nice article in todays Borderwatch. In fact we have had quite good media coverage about Software Freedom Day along with the visit to Mount Gambier by Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation founder. Each year interest grows in the event and the idea of free software. The numbers we have come to our event increase each year. We know that 500 visitors this year is ultra conservative as a library person indicated that the figure could be as high as 1000.

It concerns me the number of people that talk to us that are not aware that there are these free (as in freedom but also as in free beer) options. They are keen to hear about them and keen to give them a go. We heard about vulnerable older people going to computer shops to find out why they could not access attachments from their grandchildren to be sold expensive proprietary software when their needs could be met with free software. They were not aware of their options and the thing is that school is all about giving people options.

I was proud to overhear people on the day talking very positively about the free software that we give out at Grant High and saying that it made good sense and was a good idea.

This SFD event is a timely reminder for us to think about using the free software in our classes and encouraging its use. Richard Stallman advocates that schools should only use free software. While he has a very good point, the softened stance of 'Learning with the free software first' means that students can continue with their learning beyond school unencumbered and the door is open for other software to be introduced later if needs be. For many people, the free software serves their needs well.

The language that we use is also important. We use a wordprocessor not word, a spreadsheet not excel, a graphics package not adobe, etc.

Please consider

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