Forcing students to use nonfree network services and software as a topic of a future campaign

Nico Rikken nico.rikken at
Sun Nov 24 08:48:45 UTC 2019

Hi Demetris,

That is unfortunate.

Personally I believe we already have so many different topics to focus
on (governmental policies, PMPC, Open Standards, Router freedom, DRM
exemptions, eduction, etc.) and so I like to align my efforts with the
FSFE campaigns to have a greater impact. Doing a few things right,
rather than a lot of things badly. But of course you are free to
initiate an effort yourself.

>From your writing I get the impression that this was an incident
uncommon at your institution. Considering this case is about a single
file, perhaps you could have got it from another student as a pragmatic
solution in the moment? And considering that there is a proper solution
provided by the insitution, you can ask the lecturer why the file
wasn't uploaded there. And go so far as to make a complaint within the
institution about this incident.

More general speaking I would try to talk with the lecturer and explain
why this is important to you, and work out a solution that works for
the future. Perhaps there was a reason the lecturer couldn't upload the
file. But putting the file in an e-mail could have been a non-Google

(I'm not trying to be pedantic here. In my days in Uni I have failed an
exam as some PowerPoint slides didn't render properly in LibreOffice
and so I missed some information. From that point onwards I got a
friend to convert them to PDF's. And I agreed with a lecturer to use
Scilab instead of Matlab in class as long as I used Matlab in the exam,
not to confuse the exam supervisors).

Yes it is worthwile to stride for the issue at large. But for your own
interest it is often best to start the conversation in the small.

Kind regards,

On Thu, 2019-11-21 at 20:14 +0200, Demetris Karayiannis wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm sure many of you are aware that students at all levels of
> education 
> are forced to use nonfree software, and more recently, nonfree
> network 
> services in order to receive their education and fulfil the course 
> requirements (see for prior writings
> on 
> this).
> I'm having a bad day today because I'm currently a studying at a 
> programme that is an exception to the above, with a lot of focus on 
> using free software. But for some reason, a tutorial today was behind
> a 
> Google sign-in wall and the lecturer didn't want to export the
> tutorial 
> (which is just a jupyter notebook file) and upload it on the
> existing 
> learning management system for students to download and study.
> This led me to imagine some possible ways in which the FSFE and/or
> other 
> organisations in the free software movement could try to work on
> this 
> topic:
> 1. A survey of students and instructors about their experiences
> and/or 
> policies in mandatory nonfree software and nonfree network services
> in 
> university classrooms (which can establish the magnitude of the
> problem, 
> and help identify ways to change this)
> 2. A campaign for instructors to pledge not to mandate the use of 
> nonfree software and network services and/or eliminate them from the 
> curriculum of their courses
> Apologies for the hastily written email, but if anyone in the list
> is 
> interested in this topic, I'd love to here more.
> Best,
> Dem

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