Chatting to a colleague the other day about my small venture into the world of Linux and open source, they suggested that it might not be such a great idea to have students learning this software in particular. They weren’t against it exactly, but made the comment that you could learn Open Office for instance, but in the workplace, what are you going to be using? – Microsoft Office, and Windows. Is it advantageous for them to learn something that they may never use anywhere else?
I think there are some that this would not be a problem for. There are some that would just be able to transfer the skills they have learnt from one set of programs to another. In fact, I think it probably is more about the skills than the programs.
However, I know there are also those who use computers because they have to (yes – even students), and therefore struggle when they change from one program to a new one (they’ve just managed to conquer the first one).
So, I guess I can see two sides to this picture, and I think it comes down to what we are teaching. Are we teaching skills? Or are we teaching the programs (content)? I think the skills are more valuable. It’s part of teaching how to learn.