The payback for instituting a well-planned instructor-led Linux training program is both progressive and far-reaching. The following are areas where an organization can expect to find substantial benefits as a direct result of successful Linux training.
The GNU/Linux culture is inherited from the various flavors of UNIX. The evolution of Linux that occurred during the 1990s mirrors that of UNIX during the 1970s and 80s. Due to the nature of the GNU General Public License, the open-software culture and peer-review process have created an evolution that provides universal accessibility to computer professionals and power users alike.
The legacy culture of Linux makes an understanding of the roots of UNIX and the nature of free software critical. Gaining Linux fluency allows new users and administrators to strengthen their abilities to communicate with seasoned veterans of the Linux environment. Learning about basic Linux resources, the structure of a typical distribution, the wealth of contributed documentation available and the philosophies of the system's design all work to jump-start Linux fluency.
In larger organizations, senior administrators often provide on-the-job training for their staff. But the senior administrators' most critical role lies in planning for growth and evolution of the network of systems for which they're responsible.
When Linux instruction is provided in a classroom setting, students can dedicate time to intensive, hands-on training that achieves a well-rounded knowledge base faster and more effectively. Additional one-on-one training and mentoring—aimed specifically at the needs of the organization's workplace—is a better investment of senior administrators' time.
For both users and administrators, the scope of the tools and facilities available under GNU/Linux systems is enormous. When approached with “how do I...” questions, veteran administrators often respond with “Well, that depends.” With a GNU/Linux-based training solution, a wide arsenal of methods can be taught to solve potential or actual problems in many different ways.
A holistic classroom approach, which includes lectures, labs and a hands-on interactive learning environment, allows students to be rapidly exposed to methods, tools and techniques they otherwise may not discover for months. It is not uncommon to hear a student exclaim, “I never really understood how that worked!” or “What I just learned in that last session alone made it worth being here this week!”
The instructor-led setting allows students to pose questions and explore many aspects of conventional approaches to Linux-based solutions. Students interact with one another and discover how others have addressed similar configuration and maintenance issues in the past. This “shared” learning environment enables students to benefit from the experiences and discoveries of fellow learners and instructors.
Linux training programs should provide each student with access to a Linux system during hands-on labs. The labs speed the process from learning the basics to putting the knowledge to work, and support different learning styles among the students.
To avoid being overwhelmed by the rapid growth in today's networking systems, Linux users and administrators need to receive training that enables them to stay ahead of the curve. The combination of accelerated technologies and inadequate training is a setup for failure; staff members become frustrated and often begin to look at new opportunities for professional growth.
Furthermore, training is often perceived by employees to be a reward or a job perk. By providing a proactive training and development program, employers demonstrate that they value their employees and both parties feel there is something at stake in the continued employee-employer relationship.
Regarding training, there is a paradox that some organizations are afraid of: if they offer top-notch training, employees may eventually take their enhanced skills elsewhere. In fact, employees are far more likely to remain in an environment where they can grow their skills and develop their careers. Since employee recruitment has become so competitive, many employers seek opportunities to train and promote from within. Employees have ample prospects for advancement, while employers fill staffing needs without paying relocation fees, signing bonuses and other recruitment expenses.
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