Friday, November 30, 2012

[ MSWL - Legal Aspects ]

Linux FUD in the American classroom

Takeaway: FUD still exists — even in the institution of education. Jack Wallen calls out for everyone to spread a little truth — even if that means standing up to your chair, CEO, COO, or instructor.
It was brought to my attention, by Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland (in his article, aptly titled, “Linux FUD in College Education“) that the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) continues on, strong as ever. Only this time, the FUD isn’t limited to corporate America — now the FUD begins in the classroom. That’s right, the very place where nurturing the mind is tantamount to developing the free-thinking leaders of future generations is laying the FUD on thick.
In a modern textbook for a Management Information Systems class Linux is being portrayed as:
  • Rarely used (only when budget is very limited)
  • Only has one commonly used application (OpenOffice)
  • Created by “a loosely coupled group of programmers who mostly volunteer their time”
Not a single one of those statements is valid and current.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand that our educational system is hyper-challenged for budgetary dollars. I know students are going to high school with no texts at all! But the idea of using outdated materials within a university Information Management class is unfathomable.
Information Management. If there’s one class that certainly benefits from being current, it’s that. But instead, they are spreading FUD ripped straight from the early years of Linux.
Of course that is also quite a narrow scope of a view. Canonical just released the following bits of information:
  • In 2 years Ubuntu has been pre-installed on $7.5 billion worth of hardware;
  • Canonical is working with leading ODMs in Taiwan;
  • Ubuntu will account for roughly 9% of all global PC shipments by 2014.
Rarely used? One commonly used application? Wrong and wrong. When it comes to information technology (and PC sales), facts can no longer be America-centric. The global view of Linux and open source is widely different than that of the US.
This whole mess is also made even more pronounced when you think of how so many schools in the U.S. (especially schools in small or rural areas) are running out-of-date hardware and software that was considered new over a decade ago. These schools are not only giving their students information that is barely relevant, they are missing out on the possibility of bringing new life to their IT and doing so for free.
I understand that the age-old war between open source and proprietary software will continue on. Open source threatens proprietary software at its heart — the bottom line. Educational systems — especially universities who feel an obligation to crank out MS-centric students into the world of business — are not going to willingly open their hearts and minds to systems and software that could possibly cause Microsoft to close the flood gates of funding. I get that. What I do not understand is the idea that it’s okay for schools to be handing out misinformed texts that will do nothing but perpetuate the lies.
FUD is a tactic as outdated as AfterStep. There is way too much information available now, and anyone writing a book filled with mis-information should simply not be publishing. And for a university MIS program to be pushing said books onto their students is irresponsible. Schools should be striving to solve the problems, not be part of them. In no way, shape, or form does FUD belong in a classroom — be it about Linux, Windows, Mac, or Android.
If you spot FUD in the realm of education, stand up and point it out — to the teacher, to the department chair, to everyone necessary. Do not stand for the spread of lies in the institution of education. Period.
The educational system needs to open up it’s mind and spread truth, not lies. Linux has continued to gain momentum. Every platform has its place and its purpose. The very idea of a one-size-fits-all universe is over. The revolution of FUD will not be digitized. You have your orders.

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