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Education and the future of software freedom

Presented by: Erin Rose Glass

Erin Rose Glass is a researcher and educator who has worked across universities, community colleges, academic libraries, and industry to promote technical literacy focused on ethics, user governance, and community values. She has co-founded a variety of community-driven ed tech initiatives that center ethics and user freedom, including Social Paper, a platform for socializing student writing funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and KNIT, a digital commons shared between UC San Diego and the San Diego Community College District. Her research publications focus on the intellectual and political stakes of digital infrastructure related to education and research, including her dissertation, Software of the Oppressed: Reprogramming the Invisible Discipline, which examines the history of ed tech in higher education through Paulo Freire’s philosophy of critical pedagogy. More recently, she led the Developer Education team at DigitalOcean before joining Chainguard, a start up focused on software supply chain security. She lives in California with her family and pack of fluffy creatures, big and small.


As the political stakes of digital technology become increasingly apparent, it’s clear that an ethical approach to software use and development is more important than ever. While a number of organizations and advocates are doing important work to advance ethical forms of software practice, we continue to miss one of the key sites where software habits and expectations are reinforced and normalized at scale, that is, institutions of education.
In this talk, I will discuss the inadvertent role higher education plays in teaching students to passively accept broad forms of digital surveillance and control through its use of popular educational technologies like learning management systems, word processing software, and test taking tools, and how this submission leads to the broader mass helplessness in the face of current technological struggles. Starting with my chance encounter with free software as a humanities graduate student, I will highlight a range of promising contemporary examples of experiments in higher education that push against exploitative trends in educational technology and expose students to the differentiating value and possibility of software freedom. As we chart the course of the future of software, these examples shine light on the importance of educational institutions in the struggle for software freedom and the urgent need for broader community support to help sustain and encourage these precarious endeavors.


Audio-only version


7 months, 3 weeks ago

Tagged with

charting-the-course · libreplanet-conference · lp2023 · LibrePlanet · LibrePlanet 2023 · FSF · LibrePlanet 2023 video · video · LibrePlanet 2023 keynote


CC BY-SA 4.0


This talk was presented at LibrePlanet.


LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference. The FSF campaigns for free/libre software, meaning it respects users' freedom and community. We believe that users are entitled to this; all software should be free.


We do not advocate "open source".

That term was coined to reject our views. It refers to similar practices, but usually presented solely as advantageous, without talking of right and wrong.


Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 by announcing development of the free operating system, GNU. By 1992, GNU was nearly operational; one major essential component was lacking, the kernel.


In 1992, Torvalds freed the kernel Linux, which filled the last gap in GNU. Since then, the combined GNU/Linux system has run in millions of computers. Nowadays you can buy a new computer with a totally free GNU/Linux system preinstalled.


The views of the speaker may not represent the Free Software Foundation. The Foundation supports the free software cause and freedom to share, and basic freedoms in the digital domain, but has no position on other political issues.