On Sat, 2010-06-26 at 04:00 +0000, Jim Henderson wrote:
I've been kicking this around for a little bit
now in my own head, and
I'd like to propose that the project develop a strategy around user
education and training.
For those who don't know, in my "day job", I work for Novell's
Training department as the testing program manager. In particular, I
have responsibility for the business end of the practicum exam delivery
(and if you want to talk about that with me, feel free to contact me off-
list, I'm always happy to talk to people about their exam experiences,
even if I can't get into specific details for their exam).
In my role, I also am involved in technical certification, and work
closely with people who develop training (I used to be a trainer myself
for eDirectory, and developed the training materials to meet objectives
we had for that product) as well as being involved to some extent in
developing the next generation of training delivery.
I was intrigued by an article in this month's Linux Format about Ubuntu's
"Lernid" training system. It sounds like that project has a plan of
sorts for training users on using their system, and this seems to me to
be a way in which we could grow the community from which we are looking
to draw contributors.
In the forums, we've also had a couple of people express that some
training on openSUSE would be very helpful and useful for them (either
personally or to help people they knew learn about Linux and start using
The way I see it, we could break down training into a few classifications:
1. End-user training
2. Contributor training (for example, how to write effective bugs, code
style conventions, things like that)
3. Community training (where to ask what, what to expect, that sort of
In items 2 & 3, a lot of that content is in the wiki already - I see the
largest opportunity as being #1. There may be a loose collection of
things that fit in there as well (such as the howtos for configuring
certain video cards), but from a training perspective, some structure and
flow between the topics (along with analysis of how the topics can/should
flow from one to another) is something that's I think is missing (I may
be wrong and just haven't looked in the right places).
What I'd like is for the project team to consider that end-user education
(in particular) is something that could help us attract more users and
help them achieve a more comprehensive view of how to use openSUSE more
effectively. Things like skills migration from Windows to openSUSE would
be something I see as key; one forum user put it as "people learn by
making connections to that which they already know"; I see that in my
official job role as well - the students who are most successful are the
ones who can associate what they're learning with something they already
know - even if it's not a direct 1:1 mapping.
Please keep on-topic replies on the list so everyone benefits
Education in the openSUSE Project is actually a passion of mine and I
join with you in any efforts that can grow the community base through
education. As some of you know, I worked to establish the Helping Hands
project here in openSUSE a couple of years ago, and though it didn't
really get much traction, I still keep it open in my mind as something
we need to get back to someday. Others are also out there interested in
reviving Helping Hands or some other form of education and training.
However, I must point out that what you are proposing isn't a strategy
per se, but rather an activity to support a strategy. A strategy
highlights your strengths and/or strengths you want to develop towards.
For example, any one of the following would be considered a strategy:
* Be the project with the most number of packages/packagers
* Be the Learning Project where people come to openSUSE in order to
learn about Linux
* Be the project that develops the most new tools
* Be the project that <insert whatever here>
And in order to achieve that strategy, we would thus implement an
activity of educating people so they have the skills to make <insert
your strategic proposal here> happen.
Likewise, in your job, Novell's strategy isn't to be an educator, but to
sell a line of products that meet specific enterprise needs. And in
order to be sure to sell those products, Novell implements a Training
department (activity) that educates its customers on how to use those
So, I do not oppose your idea here. I join in solidarity with you in
finding ways to educate users, developers, etc. But the education would
be, as I said, an activity to support an ultimate goal or strategy that
positions openSUSE in the open market.
I would also like to emphasize to everyone here that whatever strategy
we end up with, that strategy merely establishes the Project's
priorities. It does not prevent anyone from doing something they'd like
to do which isn't defined within the strategy. Of course, the caveat is
that you may or may not get as much support (resources) as you'd like to
get. Then again, maybe you would. That's a risk we all take whenever
we start up a new project or initiative until we get real buy-in from
stakeholders. In other words, if you have an idea and you feel you can
start pushing it... Go for it! :-)
In other words, if you've got an idea for training and education, let's
move forward on it. Don't wait for a Strategy Proposal to say its okay
for you to do it.
Bryen M Yunashko
openSUSE Board Member
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