[BSDCert] Open Source degrees
christiaan.theron at virgin.net
Thu Feb 23 20:03:04 EST 2006
> Hi Chris,
> On Wed, 22 Feb 2006, chris wrote:
>> I have recently withdrawn from the MSCA in messaging at my local
>> college. The instructor had to manually sit down with every student
>> to complete 12 of the labs, all of which did not work . In the end I
>> dumped the official Microsoft "official" manual and worked out what I
>> needed to do myself. For the whole of the semester he made the excuse
>> that a technician would be employed to make sure the lab was set up
> disclaimer: the following response is based on personal experience so
> it is terribly long and YMWV
> I'm assuming you typo'd and mean MCSA. I taught MCSE for over 4 years
> and I am not an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer). I was originally
> hired to replace the outgoing MCT who didn't have either the technical
> skills required to keep a Microsoft lab working or the social skills
> to address
> student questions. The private college had also invested a large chunk
> of $$$ to buy official courseware, official books, and become an
> official MS partner (one of the requirements was to have an MCT on
> Before dropping the MCT, the school had also learned (the expensive
> way) that the books were terribly written, the labs asked students to
> point and click to find screens (with many of the intermediate steps
> missing) and failed to ask any probing questions (like: why did I just
> bother to point and
> click my way to this screen?). My first task after getting the Microsoft
> lab to work again was to write a custom lab manual. That and do whatever
> it took to get the understanding into student's heads so they would pass
> their certifications.
> (An interesting side note is that by the time the school closed down,
> it had an entire room crammed with materials that had been purchased
> but weren't worth using. The contents were worth several hundred
> thousand dollars.)
> The other vendors' materials aren't much better. Cisco has been long
> notorious for having grammatical errors and downright mis-information
> in their "official" texts (the CCNA is currently over 1330 pages in 6
> pounds worth of 2 books), but this is finally starting to get better.
> I've yet to
> see a decent published CCNA lab manual and have been keeping my own
> custom lab manual from 1999 up-to-date through exam revisions.
> When the college wanted to offer a security course for the then
> upcoming security certifications, they asked me to put together a
> course with a custom manual. I included the security fundamentals that
> made sense to me to include in a text and a labs designed for FreeBSD
> desktops with some Windows, Redhat and SCO systems as targets. I also
> created custom courseware for learning Cisco PIX for the Cisco
> security exams and Checkpoint for the Checkpoint exams. As all of
> these were new certifications, published materials either didn't exist
> yet or were of poor quality. Now that the exams have been around for a
> while, I provide an "official" text as supplementary reading material
> but continue to use my own labs and keep them current as exam
> objectives evolve.
> Interestingly, even though I'm a current CCSE who has taught security
> for nearly 10 years as well as consulted on Checkpoint, I can't teach
> an "official" Checkpoint course at my current college as they are not
> an official training center. In order to do so, they would have to pay
> $5000 USD,
> I would have to write an exam and supply a tape of my teaching in
> order to be
> a qualified instructor, and the college would have to pay top $ for
> materials as only the official materials which are only available from
> Checkpoint are allowed--no custom courseware/labs here. I'm in no
> hurry to become "official" as my teaching philosophy has always been:
> yup, you need to understand these concepts in order to pass the exam
> but you're not leaving my classroom until you prove to me you know how
> and why to use the product.
> In my mind, this brings up several fundamental flaws in the current IT
> certification model:
> - exams are not designed to be practical. Unless the course teaching the
> material in the exam is supported by a larger context (e.g. one course
> in a well designed university/college diploma), it is a mistake to take
> a IT certification course to learn how to use the product. It
> shouldn't even
> be a consideration if you take a "boot camp" course as it is humanly
> impossible to learn a product in a week or consider yourself an
> expert after
> 40 hours of use...
> - it is so luck of the draw when you slap down your $ and put your faith
> in a training center and the instructor for the course. "Official" only
> means they spent the money in the hopes of making money. I'm sure we
> literally sell a book on training horror stories experienced by the
> people on this list (hmmm, wonder if that could be a fundraiser???)
> These are issues we need to keep in mind when creating the exam
> We may not be able to solve them, but we should try our best to
> address them.
>> That experience leads me to think that it may be better to consider
>> "official" Instructors/ Teachers/Lecturors training/lab support guides.
> I personally would love to see a well written:
> - lab manual for students which consists of enough background theory to
> get started, followed by a hands-on exercise designed to enforce the
> concept in the theory, followed by some probing questions to make sure
> the student "got it", followed by references to additional information
> should the student wish to pursue more information on that subject
> - instructor manual containing more background theory to provide a larger
> context, suggestions for class discussion, more probing questions to
> students as they do their labs, sample quizzes and tests to help
> the material
> FWIW, the only "official" lab & instructor manuals we bought more than
> once (because they were actually very well written) were for the CIW
> Security Professional/Analyst exams. Here is an example description:
>> specialising and concentrating on high quality instruction materials
>> and online distance learning teaching guides the BSD cert
>> organisation would be providing a higher quality of delivery in
>> sysadmin education than many of the big certification players. It is
>> my opinion that in terms of "official study guides" if BSD cert were
>> to concentrate on instruction materials/resources then this it would
>> have the double benefit of advocating the use of BSD to a lot more
>> system administrators than an individual "official study guide" could
>> and will generate revenue. If you win over the teachers then you gain
>> a very powerful ally in terms of advocacy. As a teacher Dru, just
>> think of how many sysadmins you have influenced to try BSD?
> It still comes down to an agreed upon framework to bring this into
> actuality. How do we:
> - collaborate without driving the editors nuts?
A small team of authors would have to work on the book.
> I really think a collaboration of people with real-world experience
> doing different
> things on differing BSDs would make an awesome text but I'm not sure
> how to
> compile everything together without losing anything
I think an e-learning application as in something similar to MS
e-learning, routersim or testout labsim products would suit this because
of the differing BSD issues. It may be possible to Open Source this as a
project , there are many tutorial sites out there but Learn Linux is the
best example of what I am getting at. To make this work, encourage
contributors by asking the BSD community to provide small sponsorships
to reward contributors. If the BSD community is willing to support
sponsorship, then the way to offer sponsorship is to make a reward for
contributors competitive, like an annual or monthly volunteer award
based on how much work individual volunteers have contributed.
If you want to hard copy publish, rather than have one giant text, is
it possible to publish smaller books on each BSD?
To make a publishing deal work, I think it will require more than just a
single book I think if you can sell the concept of an "official"
instructors pack then the publishers will see the money. That pack could
include an instructors lab guide and the instructor manual.
> - pay people? Putting a book together is a lot of work and time away from
> the day job that feeds the family
An advance from the publisher or royalties.
> - publish the result?
If a publisher will not provide an advance, then will a small team of
authors be prepared to work for royalties? If not then self-publishing
is the next option and in my opinion online distance learning as in
e-learning probably reflects the skills of the community..
> We've had some threads on all three of these. The framework hasn't
> started to gel yet though.
This does come down to budget. O'Reilly publisher is always interesting
to me because most of the books I have bought are also freely available
online. So if a Learn BSD e-learning application was developed, it may
go some way to solving the headaches of compiling everything from the
differing BSD, before seeking a publisher for hard copy manuals and
>> To me, my local college is a measure of market saturation of
>> certification brands. If a certification vendor has reached the local
>> college then they are big player. So here is a prediction, when the
>> first Open Source certification runs a course at my local college
>> that vendor will in all likelihood be the most successful "brand" in
>> open source certification. .
> Let's make it BSD then ;-)
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