"It is indeed a strange world when educators need to be
convinced that sharing information, as opposed to concealing
information, is a good thing. The advances in all of the arts and
sciences, indeed the sum total of human knowledge, is the result of
the open sharing of ideas, theories, studies and research. Yet
throughout many school systems, the software in use on computers is
closed and locked, making educators partners in the censorship of
the foundational information of this new age. This software not
only seeks to obscure how it works, but it also entraps the users'
data within closed, proprietary formats which change on the whim of
the vendor and which are protected by the bludgeon of the End User
License Agreement. This entrapment of data is a strong, punitive
incentive to purchase the latest version of the software,
regardless of whether it suits the educational purposes better,
thereby siphoning more of the school's limited resources away from
the school's primary purpose. The use of such closed software in
education may be justified only where no suitable open source
Educators have been called upon throughout history to combat
censorship imposed by various powers over the flow of information.
The censorship being applied today comes in the form of licenses
that lock away the tools to build the information age and laws that
limit fair use in ways that are unprecedented in the modern era.
The powers imposing this censorship attempt to create an artificial
scarcity of information and the tools to work with that information
to feed their greed. Where would education be today if, for
example, the mechanism and idea of the Gutenberg press were not
only hidden, but protected by threat of dire punishment under the
law if anyone dared to attempt to "reverse engineer" it?
We are well into the beginnings of the Information Age. It
stands to affect the people of the world at least as profoundly as
the Industrial Age. It is time for the opening of the tools that
will be needed to build this new age. Teaching our children to be
passive purchasers of closed, proprietary solutions to problems is
not enough. Constraining students to move the mouse within the
confines of the instruction set of a few closed, proprietary
programs merely cages those students and constrains our
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