Free Software Community of India writes Open Letter to teachers of

"We would like to remind the teachers from Kerala how you stood for Software Freedom and became a model for the entire world. You resisted offers of free of cost training by Microsoft and Intel. You created a custom GNU/Linux distribution with software you needed in schools, and provided technical support and training to teachers across Kerala."

Please sign this letter,

We got 14 signatures on the letter so far. If you agree with the letter, consider signing and promoting. If you know any teachers/schools who might be interested to use for online classes, let us know, we have people willing to provide technical support.

If you'd like to be part of the campaign team or want to volunteer to give technical support or help with documentation, join us

@praveen Where Microsoft was defeated, Google won through their gratis offering. It's hard for libre to compete with gratis.

Disappointed to see the organization that deployed tens of thousands of GNU/Linux computers in schools choosing to run G Suite.

OTOH, G Suite is well-integrated and convenient to use whereas the libre alternatives listed don't speak to each other. And someone has to do the hosting and sysadmin work required to support the millions of students and teachers.


@njoseph @praveen If you outsource teaching tools to Google, this is just digital colonialism. You will have the farce of children not old enough to read needing to "consent" to Google's terms and conditions.

@bob @praveen Though I absolutely agree, I'm not feeling very hopeful in this case because of the lack of a competing alternative solution (like Ubuntu vs. Windows).

What is needed is the political will to resist Google. The letter to teachers is a step in the right direction. It explains the problem very well to an audience who might be unfamiliar with surveillance capitalism and digital colonialism.

I remember how India pushed out Facebook's Free Basics through large-scale resistance.

As mentioned in the other toot, Moodle is well established and has all kinds of plugins including BBB integration for voice and video. Just have a look at Moodle plugins. But you are correct about political will. We need mass campaigns like we did for net neutrality. Though we can't win this on features alone as hosting is going to be costly if we try to imitate g-suite.

@njoseph @bob
We have to think outside mimicking classroom where teachers expect all students to turn on camera and see their faces, and think of more asynchronous modes like recording classes and questions etc. Peer to peer streaming and offline copying via pen drives etc has to be considered to make it affordable. Just hosting at school is not sufficient if all students are connecting from their homes. But teachers has to part of these discussions.

@praveen (2/2) I can think of decentralized and centralized solutions to this problem:

Decentralized: A distro for self-hosting containing well-integrated educational applications with SSO and minimal maintenance overhead hosted at class/school level.

Centralized: A company centrally hosting the given list of free software solutions for all of Kerala's schools, who also do the required customizations and upstream contributions.
But neither is as cheap as gratis or easy to do in the short-term.

I don't think Kerala choosing GNU/Linux was not an easy thing either, as you can see Kerala is alone in this choice. They created custom distro and provided technical support for all kinds of problems including missing drivers. The important thing was, teachers understood what is at stake.

I don't think we lack features or integration. Moodle is well established and has plugins for all kinds of extra features including BBB integration. We only lack political will.

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