Why Is Open Source Important For Education?

An article from the Digital Divide Network reads:

Free and Open Source Software is important because it can help NPO’s and CBO’s stop spending valuable resources, which could and should be directed elsewhere, on software. Proprietary software, software produced and marketed with restrictions on its use, is never really owned by the organizations that use it. For example, an NPO generally cannot legally give its workers copies of proprietary software to use at home. Schools cannot send their students home with the software they use at school, and students aren’t allowed to copy proprietary software to share with friends. Free and Open Source software renders these kind of concerns a complete non-issue. It’s really a very simple and elegant solution to an artificially created problem.

This particular idea has come up in my research several times. For instance, why should a programming language such as Visual Basic be taught in schools when students have to purchase a copy for home? Why not Python when it’s a great language, it’s open source and of course, free. The same could be said about using MS Office vs. Open Office.

So there was reason #1 that Open Source is important for schools. Now what can YOU add to the list? Feel free to draw outside the lines.

2 thoughts on “Why Is Open Source Important For Education?

  1. Open Source software is a true meritocracy that enables students to make a meaningful contribution to the world, either through the curriculum or their own private endevour.

    Notable examples of this are:

    Aaron Swartz, whose bio is here: http://www.aaronsw.com/

    Blake Ross, who has a short wikipedia entry here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blake_Ross

    But almost every OSS project has teenagers (usually recognizable through their enthusiasm though their actual physical age is seldom, if ever, made explicit) filing bugs, making suggestions, writing documentation and learning about the process of software development in order to take greater responsibility in the future.

    Making a difference to the world has got to be a lot more motivating than re-inventing a slightly square wheel purely to get a grade.

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