Sometimes I feel like I’m ahead.
Sometimes I’m certain that I’m way behind.
Have you watched this RSA Animate video? As of this Thanksgiving morning, the Youtube video has been watched 6,070,127 times.
The video was made from a speech given by Sir Ken Robinson in 2008. That’s three years ago. I think today was my first time watching it. In “Internet years“, I am somewhere between 21 and 30 years late watching the video. Behind!
By contrast, I’ve been involved with free software since the 1980s. Back then, it was called public domain or freeware (mixed in with shareware). Some of it wasn’t really as open as we see today. The GNU General Public License (GPL) has formalized and supported a movement to make software a core element of an open society. (Note the geek-friendly numbering.)
- Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
- Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
- Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
Our view of education needs to be informed by GPL freedoms, OER and the open channels of the Internet. It will also help if our view of education embraces the four freedoms of the GPL.
- The freedom to use the knowledge of our world for our own purposes
- The freedom to examine the sources of our education and to make improvements which suit us as learners
- The freedom to pass our learning to others, perhaps as teachers who make it a life’s work
- The freedom to engage our communities with the educational changes we think are important and to be unfettered by top-down, one way or the highway thinking making a goal of steady improvement a goal which trumps someone else’s (too often arbitrary) standards
We might also want to ensure the four freedoms from Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Just as Thanksgiving in the United States is a day of gratitude, let us be thankful we can use free software and the open channels of the Internet to express our opinions and to share our excitement and to make contributions to the common wealth.