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Overwhelmingly, students are being required to use tools in the classroom that they are forbidden to study, share, or modify. Not only do programs like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom invite a potentially malicious third-party into the educational environment, but more importantly, they increase society's dependence on proprietary software, software that denies its users their freedom.
By contrast, free software is software that respects the freedom of its users. In a perfect fit with the principles of good education and science, free software allows its users to:
- Use the program for any purpose, not discriminating against specific fields
- Study the source code of the program to understand how it works, and change it to fit their needs
- Share the program in order to help others
- Distribute modified copies of the program with others, giving the whole community a chance to benefit
We call on school administrators at all levels to drop requirements for students to use proprietary software to participate in a course, and to adopt a free software replacement for every nonfree program being used. As students, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, we stand together for the following principles:
- It is an injustice to require students to sacrifice their freedom to proprietary software in pursuit of an education.
- Using free software in the classroom communicates the importance of values key to a free society: sharing, social responsibility, and independence.
- With its focus on study and collaboration, free software is far more suited to the spirit of pedagogy than the dependence and abuse caused by proprietary software.
Please sign here to show your support. If you provide us with information about your educational institution, we'll contact them on your behalf and invite them into a discussion on how to educate the next generation of technologists, rather than serve as marketing and influence arms for proprietary software companies.