Digitally illiterate kids and FOSS in schools

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I just finished reading this interesting BBC News article asking if our children are becoming digitally illiterate. The TL;DR version of the article is that children are some of the biggest consumers of technology between video games and cell phones, but asks whether the technology curricula in schools is adequate to help fill the demand in the workforce for high-tech jobs.

I’ve always wondered about how useful it is to teach students to use market-dominating software packages, such as the Office suite, as opposed to encouraging students to understand how the programs (and their devices) work internally. Aside from not preparing our children for rewarding high-tech careers, teaching children to depend on proprietary software such as the Office suite only reinforces the market dominance companies like Microsoft currently enjoy.

As I write this blog post, a paper I wrote and published in the CU Honor’s Journal comes to mind. It proposes a rapid transition to FOSS in public schools. Not only would this save public schools huge amounts of money to support important programs such as the arts and sports, but it would also familiarize students more thoroughly with technology. I’ve uploaded my entire proposal if you’re interested in more specifics.

What do you think about this idea and the claim of digital illiteracy among kids?

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Ben Limmer