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== Ravi Dwivedi's personal website ==
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Free Software for Education

Last Updated: Wednesday 24 November 2021

Urgent: Sign the open letter to Kerala Teachers to switch to free software in education.

To join the campaign to promote free software in education, please send an email to contact at fsci.in.

Free software means that users get freedom to run, study, modify, improve and share the software. It does not mean that the software is free of cost. Free Software is a matter of liberty, not price. A nonfree/proprietary software is one which lacks any of these freedoms.

Free Software is controlled by its users, encourages learning and sharing. The liberty given by free software makes it an ideal tool for educational institutes. With free software, students can learn to build their own solutions instead of just being users.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook’s software is malware. Allowing Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other companies' proprietary software into education gives them too much power which they constantly exploit. An educational institute relying on proprietary software is helpless and dependent on such software.

Consult this list to see how much malware proprietary software is putting into education.

Therefore, educational institutes should rely only on free/swatantra/mukt software for education.

Self-Hosting

Self-Hosting means running our own services ourselves. When we do our computing using software installed in someone else’s servers, we lose our freedom and control over the software. The only way to protect our freedom is to self-host our own services. Educational institutes should self-host to have the services under their control. This would respect their liberty and privacy. Using software hosted on third-party servers like Google are very privacy-invading for students and teachers. Popular proprietary software are known to track and mistreat their users in various ways and so I would strongly advice against using any such proprietary software/services.

Money should not be the only cost involved in the decision of choosing software. Consider other factors as well, such as , respecting privacy, users getting software freedom, freedom of speech, political liberty, security etc. The malware like Zoom, WhatsApp, all Google products puts students and teachers under surveillance which has chilling effects in the long term.

If a tiny institute like the Department of SCMS, Savitribai Phule Pune University Pune, India, with so little skilled humanpower can wean itself off proprietary communication channels in a reasonably small amount of time, then other institutes can do it too.

If you would like to switch to free software as an educational institute, please write to contact at fsci dot in.

Resources:

Replacement Software

Free software replacements of all the proprietary software are readily available and should be preferred. A lit of free software for education is here:

  • Operating system: GNU/Linux distros like Debian, Ubuntu.

  • Online Classes: Jitsi, BigBlueButton.

  • Instant Messenger: Element, Quicksy, Conversations.

  • Uploading videos: PeerTube

  • E-learning platform: Moodle, BigBlueButton

  • Recording Lectures: OBS

  • Sharing notes, lecture videos etc. : Nextcloud, Lufi

  • Digital writing pad: Xournal

  • Document editor: LibreOffice, Cryptpad, Etherpad, EtherCalc, OnlyOffice

  • Form filling: KoBoToolbox, NextCloud Forms — Disroot provides NextCloud Forms.

  • Activities for children - GCompris: GCompris is a high quality educational software suite, including a large number of activities for children aged 2 to 10.

  • Email: Institutes can hire a free software consultancy, like Deeproot GNU/Linux to set up their own mail server. For self-hosting mails, Mail-in a-Box , iRedMail and Freedom Box are good options. Further, the users of the mail server(students, teachers, other staff etc) can use end-to-end encryption so that only the participants of a communication can read the mails.

Examples of adoption of Free Software in Education

Here are some examples of adoption of free software in education. Many of them self-host the services rather than depending on Google, Microsoft etc. If they can do it, others can do it too.

Successful Resistance Against NonFree Software (Source: GNU)