[clug] Linux in education

Steve Walsh Steve at nerdvana.org.au
Mon Oct 8 08:24:26 GMT 2007

Adam Jenkins wrote:
> Schools/universities are meant to be making students truly 'job ready'.
> Too many people are confusing their task as that of trade schools, private
> colleges, etc., which is to teach how to use a specific
> application/product.
It's a little realised fact that there are two types of Universities in 
Australia - Vocational/Research, and Traditional.

Traditional Universities (for the most part) comprise a large amount of 
classroom time learning how something works in theory. If you're lucky 
you might get to touch a 30 or 40 year example of something similar to 
what you're learning about in your 3rd or 4th year, but it's mostly dry 
theory. Graduates of traditional universities end up going on to get 
jobs as consultants or similar.

A Vocational/Research Universities explain how something works in 
Theory, then sets the students loose on the real thing to see how it 
works, how it doesn't work, how to break it and (most importantly) how 
to fix it. I did my Engineering degree at UC, and we learnt a ton of 
stuff a friend doing the exact same degree at ANU didn't. The inverse 
was also true, where he learnt a whole ton of theory that we didn't, but 
then we were in for the Beer, Satellite Dishes and High Powered 
Transmitters. We learnt why Elliptical Waveguides were better than 
rectangular at some frequencies, but we didn't spend ~3 weeks picking 
the formula to pieces to prove the fact.

Oddly enough, it's the traditional University where you will find Linux, 
and the Vocational Uni's are where the kids will learn about .NET, MSSQL 
and other junk. Yes, I know linux is used in research, but you generally 
have to get through the first 3-4 years of your degree before you're 
allowed near the research side of stuff.

Hitting kids in primary school, where their teachers are already 
overworked and undertrained, does get them into Linux, but hitting them 
when they're in College and/or Uni is, in my opinion, the best time to 
get the FOSS hook into it.


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