How do you boost the quality and quantity of open source education in New Zealand? You start by endorsing top-shelf courses and encouraging the creation of more.
The newly formed Open Source Society is planning to sanction training courses and certification schemes that meet its standards. NZ OSS is also encouraging the creation of open source training courses for certification by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the achievement of international standards such as CompTIA — best known for its A+ certification — and the Linux Professional Institute.
Vladimir Kosovac, a tutor with computer training company Spherion, is leading the team.
“We want to introduce a more coordinated approach to open source training and education in New Zealand. There has to be more training centres.
“Universities usually require people to do some Unix or Linux programming, but not to a great extent,” says Kosovac, who hails from Belgrade.
“There are a few companies that have good expertise in providing Linux training on all levels from individual users to large corporates.”
Auldhouse Computer Training provides Red Hat certification in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Spherion, which teaches 350 students across the three main centres, uses Linux modules as part of its NZQA courses. Both also provide training in Microsoft products.
Kosovac says in the past six to eight months more people have started to show interest in open-source training — mostly people who are interested in IT as a career and want to do systems administration or engineering, programming or web development.
Spherion student Joe Boyce is busy on a course introduction to Linux, which involves history and the basic set-up of a Linux network. He believes there has been a marked increase in the development of Linux networks. “If you don’t have at least an understanding of it you close off that part of the market to yourself.”
James Day, who’d like to be a network administrator, is learning about basic Linux console command. “I’ve used the DOS console in Windows and it is quite similar, though I find that the Linux console is more comprehensive and has more flexibility.”
Brandon Robert, who also wants a networking career, is enjoying learning about Linux virtual desktops.
All three students are also learning about Windows products.
Auckland training company Future Skills, meanwhile, is developing Linux courses aimed at a lower level: those who want to use Linux desktops.
Future Skills currently provides training for the National Certificate in Computing using Windows and Microsoft Office and is developing an open source equivalent that will use Linux and OpenOffice.
Most training providers seem to be offering higher level courses for administrators and technicians, says Future Skills tutor and coordinator Ken Lomax.
His company is a bit different in going down to the user level, he believes.
“Linux has been traditionally regarded as high tech. I’m hoping to get it away from that perception in the sense of training a lot of people out there to use it without necessarily understanding the technicalities.”
Lomax says the course should be accredited by NZQA by the end of the year. Future Skills intends in future to develop higher-level technical training courses such as for systems administrators.