[nSLUG] New User Advise

robert ashley at chebucto.ca
Tue May 10 18:21:56 ADT 2005

On Tue, 2005-10-05 at 16:39 -0300, Donald Teed wrote:
> On 5/10/05, robert <ashley at chebucto.ca> wrote:
> > Yes. But also these seemingly endless possibilities, presenting
> > themselves without a readily intelligible structure which makes for some
> > early-learner confusion. I've learned, for example, that I have to be
> > resourceful and design my own learning agenda. That's a long way removed
> > from taking weekly classical guitar lessons.
> > 
> > Actually, I've thought of proposing 'Linux lessons', a weekly one-on-one
> > lesson schedule, from master to student. Master sets down the early path
> > of learning and doles out assignments of progressing difficulty. Master
> > watches students go through the paces of the assignments, evaluates and
> > prescribes improvements, doles out next assignment.
> If music was invented in 1970, and a class of new instruments appeared
> all over the world, and were constantly changing and evolving since 1992,
> do you think we would have a standard way of denoting, classifying
> and instructing it?  When airplanes were this old you could
> easily kill yourself by getting the airplane up, and then getting
> the air and fuel mixture (2 manual levers) wrong.

Yes, this is all true, of course. I don't want to level criticism for
Linux lacking a mature pedagogy, but merely point out that this is the
reality and learners have to wrangle with it. Learners and experts alike
tend to come down on lacklustre learners and their deficiencies. The
self-deprecating 'newbie' stuff plays right into an apologia for

Mine is a gross generalization, especially as I haven't had this problem
yet. On the other hand, I make no apologies for being a beginner.
Everybody has occupied the same boat at one time or another. 

It's just my observation that while much e-press attention is laid upon
the commitment new users should make to accrue the FOSS benefits, there
is practically no attention paid to developing a systematic, robust way
for learners to accomplish it. The learning environment, therefore, not
the learners, nor the experts, are really to blame. It's a difficult,
often confounding, sometimes raucously contentious environment. Experts
are familiar with it, and they can negotiate it, but learners are not.

If I'm right, we should soon see an emergence, then a proliferation of
more structured learning settings, like community-held classes, short
programs in recreation departments, seminars for seniors, university
electives for non-geeks, public library intro classes, and community
events like the recently held installfest or the upcoming CEOS at Dal.
Such instruments are all learner-centred. It looks pretty positive.

I think what these instruments address are weaknesses, not in learners
or teachers, but in the Linux learning environment. It would signal
entry into a more mature phase in the evolution and dissemination of

> In the case of Linux, the developers have different camps,
> and the basic philosophy is that this is a Unix for the users
> and by the users.  Everything about Linux and open source will
> resist there being a standard that every distribution will adopt.
> I suggest that if you want to enjoy it, just pick one thing and
> stick with it for awhile.

This is reassuring because it bolsters a general consensus I perceive
held among many other experienced users. I intend to follow this advice.



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