View Full Version : Students, bring about a new generation of programmers.

November 23rd, 2012, 05:03 AM
Since I have come to love Linux (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2022720), I decided to start a Linux User Group at my high school in Los Angeles (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2077168). A few weeks have passed since its start, and something was bothering me. Students generally don't care about Linux because they are all used to Microsoft or Apple, and sometimes even Google. I've also tried holding a Linux installfest for some laptop users to no avail. The majority of students hesitate at this, and I understand. In this Microsoft and Apple-dominated world, people prefer conforming to software standards set by such companies rather than actually making software. Linux appreciation, I realized, can't happen without appreciating programming first.

Personally, Ubuntu, coupled with a smartphone, has been a major stepping stone to appreciating the web (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2036015). But I knew students needed some guidance to see themselves not just as users, conforming to existing software, but potential creators of great software, to innovate the technology of tomorrow.

Although I had to step back, I stumbled on this solution.

I felt like learning web technologies lately. I have been learning C and Python with books, but for web technologies, I thought it best to take the free route,like using a web service. That service was Codecademy (http://www.codecademy.com/#!/exercises/0Codecademy). I've been doing some exercises for Javascript and jquery, until later, I saw that Codecademy also has an afterschool kit to teach programming (http://www.codecademy.com/afterschool).

What a treasure! It didn't matter whether one was an avid programmer or novice. I only programmed in C, Python, and bash - I'm still studying introductory texts - for only a few months now, but having the opportunity to teach and learn programming together sounded extremely exciting. Already, I already envision myself hosting this in my school and probably in my local public library. That would mean a shift in agenda after all.

I am not trying to advocate Codecademy as the sole means to an end. On the contrary, I believe the tool Codecademy provides facilitates in sparking fire for programming.

Students - teens and young adults - if you love to program and want to enlighten others to do so as well, why not introduce this to your schools? Check out that afterschool kit and see how to work it out. Not surprisingly, this method isn't just limited to students. Adults too can try it out this out.

So I'm stepping back on Linux advocacy for now. Before advocating Linux, I have to advocate programming.

What do you think of this approach? Would you try this?

November 23rd, 2012, 08:26 PM
Advocate all the things, seriously.

November 23rd, 2012, 10:00 PM
Advocacy really isn't easy, no matter what the concept you're going for. Most people tend to be turned off by advocates and evangelists in general, whether it's for Linux, Microsoft, political parties, or religions. You'll get your recruits, but they won't be representative of the population at large.

I'm not saying you should back off, but you should take a close look at your target audience and what to realistically expect, and design an approach accordingly.

Programming in general, and Linux in particular, are not for the faint of heart. There's got to be a bit of adventure involved, and it's the adventurous types you need to appeal to.

November 24th, 2012, 06:54 PM
Advocacy also needs to stimulate your sense of purpose. What's the point of using an alternative when it's objectively less popular and can occasionaly be buggy?

People use software for a purpose, let them know, for example, that android is linux. If students are interested in coding or design for that platform then they would naturally be drawn to Linux.

Let them know that Linux occupies a HUGE role in server administration.
Get the word out that most "innovation" that goes into new Windows features or OSX is often available on Linux distros years ahead.

Also, something many students think about is how they're going to work in the future. Is it possible to have a job in an open source mindset? the answer is YES.

One of the most important things is that the open source community and the commercial computing world are not mutually exclusive. You can do both, you're not being a traitor.

Lastly, a message is most effective when it's crafted for a specific audience. Take that into account, and reach out to people in meaningful, relevant ways. Good luck! it can be tough being an advocate. :)

November 24th, 2012, 11:25 PM
You should know your quite the lucky person having a Linux user group i like your idea and i am quite the preacher of Linux, maybe you could blog about? i have tried no takers...
still in my area the Linux user group died out years ago website is not working and apart from Raspberry pi Debian and one open source hater/hacker whos used backtrack before no one uses linux where i am from it seems...
still carry on with your idea i love ruby my self!

Aaron Christianson
November 25th, 2012, 01:54 AM
Please do not teach something at which you are a novice. That is a sure way to turn people off to it. A teacher needs to be able to provide answers to questions.