Sunday, December 30, 2007

MIT's OpenCourseWare Model is Proliferating Online

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare effort has been offering free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1800 courses per its website. Some of their courses offer a substantial amount of video and audio content. I remember stumbling across this resource via my employer's intranet about a year ago. Frankly speaking, I didn't think the concept would go very far because you couldn’t earn credit…

Well, I was wrong. It’s catching fire and over 100 universities worldwide have setup similar models and some are top tier schools such as Johns Hopkins and Tufts.

I was searching for a good UNIX course but I haven't found one yet. Surprisingly, it appears MIT’s Linear Algebra course is quite popular with the OpenCourseWare community.

By the way, I don't have any affiliation with OCW or any of the higher learning institutions mentioned.

Added later:

UC Irvine OCW
Notre Dame OCW
Utah State OCW
Osaka OCW
Japan OCW Consortium


Anonymous said...

You're going to be hardpressed to find a UNIX(R) course, especially a good UNIX(R) course anywhere.

Academia has failed miserably in producing the next generation of UNIX(R) hackers and engineers; consequently, what few of us that remain out there in the industry are dying out.

We're a dying breed. How many people do you know, that know and can use sed, AWK, m4, yacc, lex, make, C, troff, nroff, and so on? I know only a few, and I can count them on the fingers of my one hand.

The only way things will get better is if we take matters into our own hands, and train the future generations in the arcane arts of operating environment that is UNIX. Only then will UNIX be arcane no more.

I'm really disgusted with academia. This is one of their biggest sins; hopped up on Java and Linux, they failed in the most disgraceful, miserable ways possible: the kids coming out of colleges / universities in IT and CS degress are useless. No concrete, useful knowledge is taught, only "concepts", and those only through theory.

Unknown said...

Interesting and telling comment ux-admin.

I would have to you agree with you. There aren't many people out there who can fully use the array of tools you mentioned in your comment.

How would you propose training the next generation of UNIX(R) engineers if academia is failing to fill the gap?

Anonymous said...

I propose that each of us take on at least one student, and train him/her in the art of UNIX, both the art of UNIX system administration, and the art of UNIX programming.

I'm already doing what I can: during the course of my UNIX career, I've trained apprentices (I officially no longer have anything to do with UNIX), and I have a very promising apprentice now. I'm always looking for people interested in learning UNIX (not Linux, I really mean UNIX) and I'm happy to teach and share my knowledge.

Each of us that are left should help out. Companies often employ interns out of universities and colleges; I propose that each of us takes these young people and teach them useful things about UNIX:

- how to think in system engineering/scalability and CMM terms
- how to configure things like mirroring, DNS, web and mail servers
- how to program clean, portable, scalable scripts, and understand and use regular expressions effectively
- how to design scalable systems and networks
- how to design and implement firewalls
- how to design and implement HA clusters
- how to write portable UNIX programs in C, use lex and yacc effectively
- how to link properly, and use the link editor effectively
- how to use make and m4 to automate system administration tasks and development.

At the end of the apprenticeship, a student should be prepared for, and be able to take a sysadmin certifcation test, not for the purpose of being certified, but because it is a systematic knowledge test. Plus, being certified would give these young people a shot at obtaining employment easier.

And: no sysadmin is ever complete without being a better developer than developers themselves. Only then is a sysadmin complete, and may call himself/herself a master of the craft.