[CS-FSLUG] Microsoft Technology Mandated in GA Colleges?

Tim Young Tim.Young at LightSys.org
Mon Jan 7 13:45:44 CST 2013

On 1/7/2013 10:39 AM, Yama Ploskonka wrote:
> Thank you, Tim.
> As with anything Christian, there's the talk ("teaching") and then 
> there's the walk, "use", for real life, all over.

I do not know of any universities that teach that there is "one way, 
and only one way, and that is Linux."  I do know that some of the 
issues pertaining to OS choice have been worked through in the 
"computer ethics" class at Taylor University, and that a goodly 
percentage of the CS students leave with a good desire to use Linux 
at home.  BUT, I believe it is actually a dis-service for schools NOT 
to teach MS products, at least in part.  The plan is that people who 
leave a university are employable.  Most places you go to get a job 
will already have their technology in place, and the majority of 
businesses use Windows desktops.  Sorry, but that is just the way of 
it.  I do agree that it is great for people to do Linux at home, and 
if you are able to set up your own business using Linux, that is 
awesome.  But it is good to get experience in multiple OSes as a 
user, if you wish to be employable.

When I set up cyber-cafes overseas and techno training facilities, we 
usually try to teach a mix of technologies.  Both Open Office, and MS 
office, both Windows and Linux.  (Macs are very rarely used in Africa 
due to the cost of purchasing and maintaining them). If you are 
trying to give someone a skill that they can use, you need to give 
them the skills the employers will be looking for, but also the 
understanding for how to use things.  For example, the people who 
only knew what icon to click on to wrap text were totally floored 
when MS switched to their "ribbon" interface (Word 2007). If you knew 
the concepts behind it, it is easier to adjust to a different 
interface.  Teaching people how to think, not just rote memorization, 
is paramount for equipping them to function well in the world.  )

> Austin Community College, where I did some Wind Energy past Fall, 
> also "teaches" Linux, as an option among the usual junk.
> Most of the administrative tasks are web-based - that is, 
> administrative employees and students interacting with 
> administrative matters do so using a browser. You would think then 
> that the OS could be any - just put a browser on top. Nope, it's 
> some Redmont spawn, with antivirus, etc., the works.
> We know that universities are often the farthest away places from 
> real world issues - their main duty is to certify that a given 
> person will spend enormous effort in obeying nonsense.
Heh heh.  I *worked* at Taylor University, and the philosophy of 
their faculty is nowhere near what you are stating.  Maybe that is 
why the Taylor University computer people are in such high demand. 
Taylor goes through a lot of pain making sure students think.  What 
I, personally, get from someone who has a degree is that the student 
has learned how to learn and hopefully has a broad understanding of 
the basics.  My job is to teach missionary computer people, and they 
usually have a great desire to learn but have not faced the broad 
spectrum of computer basics that I have had.  I certainly can see the 
difference in people who have had a good, broad set of computer 
teaching from those who have not.  If you are programming a 
multiplayer game, it helps to know about basic networking.  If you 
are choosing which technology to use for streaming teaching media to 
students, you should be aware of how the different options are 
affected by home networks and IPv6.  People who do not have a broad 
spectrum of knowledge often make poorer decisions when looking at 
some of these things.  For me, that is what these colleges are for, 
forcing you to have a broader scope of knowledge than you might have 
chosen if you just learned on your own, as well as making sure you 
have learned how to learn.

But I will be the first to say that I am biased by my in-depth 
knowledge of the Taylor University staff and their teaching 
priorities.  Not all universities may do it the same way.

> That is the actual meaning of a degree: as an employer, I have in 
> front of me someone obedient, compliant, and reasonably devoid of 
> initiative. Of course I complain that my managers are no good, but 
> at least they are "safe".
Maybe for you, but I know many people do not see it that way, as I 
stated above.  I have taken on many interns (college students who are 
still taking classes, most of who get college credit for their time 
with us), and it has not been my perspective to look at their 
education as you are saying it.  I look at the actual classes they 
have taken so I know what knowledge they have, I look at their grades 
and recommendation by faculty to know how "self driven" they are and 
how sharp they are.  And I look at their choice of major to determine 
somewhat where their interests lie.  But again, that is me.   That is 
how I think.  How I think has somewhat been shaped by my time at 
Taylor, but also by my 15+ years working in missions tech.

     - Tim Young

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