Linux training has changed a lot in the last 10 years.
I have put together a summary of some of the training options and styles we have provided over the last 10 years in Linux Training. Many things have changed of course in that time period. With as little as %3 of computer users running Linux on a regular basis training is really in an infant state. The question is: “Where is Linux training headed?”
CD Sales and CD Training
10 years ago we were developing Linux training on CDs for people and packaging that with CDs that has Linux distros. The process of burning CDs was beyond the skills of most new Linux users then and the bandwidth that was required was out of reach for most people as well so they focused on purchasing the CDs. I can remember one Mandrake release (now Mandriva) in which we shipped 600 orders alone for the distro. Today we do not ship any CD distros as most people have high speed Internet or can get access to a friend’s Internet. In those days it made sense to ship training with the distros as people certainly needed the help but did not have the resources they have today.
We moved into the online training for Desktops and servers as the world began to show interest in Linux and people were looking for alternatives that had text, quizzes and movies to help them learn. Again, this was a successful direction and for several years there was a lot of interest in online training. However, as Linux users became more proficient, they began to start looking for more sophisticated information. We still sold CDs with Flash videos, as we still do today, for training but people were really in a situation where they needed live help, someone they could as questions of and get quick answers.
In order to supply support for questions and train people in the process we began training in live classes, traveling and taking with us enough laptops to have a complete lab setup. This was not only time consuming but expensive. Live classroom training is not only expensive because you need to purchase equipment, pay a trainer, develop and print materials, advertise and pay for a space to train in. Unfortunately, the expenses tied with the time that it takes just make this avenue impossible to sustain in both time and money.
Virtual Classroom Training
The alternative is live classroom training online, a virtual classroom. Students can log into the instructor’s computer and watch demos, ask questions and view interaction between servers as well as listen to other questions presented by students. The value of the virtual classroom is that it does not cost a lot to present with the technology available today. You can figure on paying close to $100 a month to have an application to present classes with. There are free options and there are expensive options. Ultimately none of them work 100%, regardless of what they tell you. The virtual classroom does provide access at any time to instructor supervision, question and answer and demos which are so important in learning. The virtual classroom is here to stay. This certainly provides access and interaction that students need without the expenses and time required for a physical classroom.
The Future of Linux Training: Social Media?
The future of Linux training is really about social media. We have been working with social media and answering questions and providing resources in real time for several months and see great opportunities for social media. One of our sites: http://beginlinux.com has been more an more focused on social media with good success. However, this also means someone, a real human, must be available to answer questions and respond as quickly as possible in order to help people. We are actually supplying part time now Linux support people online and working with people. Certainly there is a lot to learn but there is huge potential.
As always we will be adjusting our models of Linux training to try to provide the best resources we can and there will be more changes down the road.