Software Freedom/Information Goods Activity

The goal of this activity is have students produce, on their own, one primarily material and one primarily non-material product and to compare the nature of the good produced and to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of information goods.

Key ConceptsEdit

This activity aims to create an intriguing opening to the Software and Freedom Curriculum and to introduce and frame the concepts the section on information goods. It aims to help students find their own answers to a number of important questions that might include:

  • What is an information good? How is different than a material good?
  • What are the ways that information can be controlled? How is this control different or similar to ownership?


This activity is is designed to use and build upon work assigned to the students for other purposes and potentially in other classes.

In general terms, the required material includes:

  • Two assignments from the students' normal schoolwork.
  • Permission and collaboration from the teachers assigning the assignments above (if applicable).

The two assignments should be different and should be chosen so that one falls into each of the following rough categories:

  1. An assignment whose fulfillment involves or centers around primarily material or physical product. The project could be in any number of subjects. The essential criteria is the product fulfilling the assignment must not be easily or effectively copyable by students. Examples might include:
    1. An assignment to create a collage out of magazines around a theme or in response to readings in an history, English, or art class.
    2. An assignment to create a model or poster for a science class.
    3. A sculpture, drawing, painting, or other physical art project.
  2. An assignment whose fulfillment involves or centers around a primarily non-material or information product. As in the first example, the subject does not matter but the work must be easily copied and of the kind that students could easily collaborate together upon, divide work around. It should be the type of assignment that in an academic environment students could cheat on. Examples might include:
    1. A traditional style math assignment formed of a list of problems and solutions.
    2. A foreign language worksheet that ask for translations of words, sentences, etc.
    3. A science or humanities assignment of any type that asks for "answers" to questions where there are correct answer.

Teachers will need to have one assignment of each type coordinated in advance. Both assignments should be brief (i.e., not assigned for more than several days) and the assignments should be coordinated so that they are assigned on the same day, due on the same day, and assigned according to the instructions below.

The ActivityEdit