"As is probably the theme at the majority of
third-level educational establishments, student's exposure to OS
technology at the Institute of Technology, Carlow is
Microsoft-focused and desktop-based. This is easy to understand,
for the desktop is very much a Microsoft stronghold, and if an
institution can use the same PCs to teach business undergrads Excel
and science undergrads programming, then they will. However, what
many of my students often fail to recognize is that, as system
administrators, they will find themselves managing servers running
OS technology other than Microsoft's.
So in an attempt to expose my students to a more realistic view
of the technologies in use in the real world, I try to deemphasize
Microsoft's technologies in favor of the alternatives. As you can
imagine, Linux features quite heavily.
At the start of this academic year, I informally surveyed the 31
students enrolled in the module about their exposure to Linux. Most
(if not all) had some exposure to the OS. I probed further and
asked how many students had used Linux as the basis of their
third-year project (the previous year). One or two hands were
raised. Then the first shock came: someone blurted out, "nearly
everyone who used Linux last year went on to fail their project".
It came out that a number of individuals were missing from the
final year due to failing the project element in year three. When I
probed for the root cause of the project-failing problem, I got my
second shock: "Linux is too hard to install". I was shocked not
because these two statements were necessarily false but because
these 31 students had pretty much convinced themselves that success
was tied to Microsoft and failure to Linux."
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