Ict@innovation: Free your IT Business in Africa/6-2
Module 6.2: FOSS Training as a Business
Identifying FOSS Business Opportunities
FOSS training can be undertaken as part of an existing business function, academic pursuit in educational institutions or as a sponsored group activity. The type of training method chosen will influence the revenue, steps to be taken, facilities and content.
If FOSS training is undertaken as part of an existing business function, then it could:
- leverage the company's competitive position in the industry.
- access a ready pool of participants from the company.
- co-share facilities with other courses, thus the investment is low.
If academic institutions are involved in FOSS training, then
- it could target students who might not yet have loyalty to proprietary software.
- it could be incorporated in Computer Science courses.
- cost might be reduced in the acquisition of licenses for proprietary software
If FOSS training is pursued as sponsored group activities, then
- it could include workshops, seminars, exhibitions
- it should be targeted
- the training duration should be short
- cost should be undertaken by the sponsor
Selection of candidates for FOSS training can be done using
- role/function in organisation
- educational background
- identified need
FOSS training curriculum should be comprehensive and detailed. It should include all topics covered for the equivalent proprietary software.
Arnold Pietersen (CECS) provides some practical examples of FOSS training he conducted or intend to conduct, below.In 2006, Arnold came across Open Workbench (which is the same type of programme as MS Project). He started using it for CECS' project and was impressed by the programme. It dawned upon him that this might be a useful tool for NGOs. Arnold visited the websites of some of the major training companies in South Africa to see what they offer with regard to MS Project 2003 Level 1. He then modelled the Open Workbench course based on the MS Project 2003 course outline. This he thought would provide for benchmarking or comparability. Since then he has conducted numerous courses by sending e-mails to NGOs and CBOs to announce course dates. Participants are now requesting for the Level 2 course. The last course was conducted with 16 participants. With improved marketing he surmise more course and regular courses could be conducted. Participants attending are from across the board: NGOs, CBOs, government, individuals, schools. The course is being charged at about 80% of what a MS Project course would cost. CECS now want to target students at universities who studies project management.
CECS received some money from OSISA to develop an open source course for entrepreneurs and latched onto TurboCASH. CECS have been conducting numerous courses for the past three years. A contracted trainer is conducting the course who install, train, supports TurboCASH as a business. The organisation have had requests from individuals and organisations especially Cape Town and Durban to attend the training course. There are very few companies offering TurboCASH courses, let one NGOs.
Last year July CECS started conducting Web Design Training Using Joomla courses which proves to be very popular. The courses are well-attended. CECS also derive other opportunities from conducting this course such as organisations wanting to contract the organisation to migrate their websites, to conduct on-site training, individuals and organisations wanting to purchase manuals. The manual is still very much work in progress. It was a question of do we spend a year or two trying to develop a "perfect" manual or do we start with some material and then built upon that as we gain experience. A scan was undertaken regarding the Joomla training environment in South Africa before CECS embarked on the training.
Arnold is now in the process of putting together a course for Ubuntu Linux for absolute beginners. Participants will bring their laptops to the course. The course will map to a certain extent to say a Windows XP Level 1/Beginners. He thinks that critical for the course is showing people how to install Ubuntu. When people go wrong at the partition stage, they then blame Ubuntu Linux for all their woes. Thus, we need to give them a solid understanding regarding installing Ubuntu Linux. This will be a pure end-user course.
It is difficult to estimate the demand for FOSS training. FOSS training can attract learners if the application has been widely adopted in the industry. As an example FREEBSD has been promoted by AfNOG over the years thus FREEBSD training is likely to attract more users. People are prepared to pay for courses, whether it is FOSS or proprietary, provided that these courses address their real business needs.
Identifying Training Opportunities
Training opportunities can be identified in the following ways:
- Surveys should be done to identify training needs.
- Identifying popular applications (e.g. by looking at downloads from sourceforge.net and freshmeat.net).
- Subscribing to newsletters, mailing lists and participating in relevant forums.
- Attending (either actively or passively) ICT conferences, workshops and other events such as Software Freedom Day.
- Accessing market reports, e.g. Gartner, Government, etc.
- Identify FOSS applications that may satisfy market needs.
- Participating in relevant tenders, request for proposals, requested for interest, pre-qualification exercises, etc.
Marketing of Training Courses
- Direct advertising through local press, magazines and professional publications.
- Register and contribute in forums, mailing lists, blogs, etc.
- Taking advantage of ICT conferences, workshops and other events such as Software Freedom Day as a marketing opportunity.
- Contributing articles to the local press and other media houses.
- Maintaining a presence on website portals that bring together trainers and potential trainees (e.g. http://www.flosslit.org.za/).
- Organise computer literacy events in schools, educational institutions, etc.
What follows below are courses with an international repute. We provide a brief description of the courses.
OpenICDL refers to the International Computer Driving Licence based on open source software.
OpenICDL is a test of practical skills and competencies and consists of seven separate modules covering computer theory and practice. To achieve OpenICDL certification, a candidate must successfully pass a test in all seven modules.
OpenICDL Module 1 is a theoretical test of computing knowledge at a general level and modules 2-7 are practical skills tests. The following are the modules:
- Concepts of Information Technology
- Using the Computer and Managing Files (Ubuntu Linux)
- Word Processing (OpenOffice.org Writer)
- Spreadsheets (OpenOffice.org Calc)
- Database (OpenOffice.org Base)
- Presentation (OpenOffice.org Impress)
- Information and Communication (Mozilla Firefox & Mozilla Thunderbird)
You must be registered with the ICDL Foundation in order to offer the OpenICDL.
Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC)
The Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC) program is designed to certify the competency of IT professionals using the Linux operating system and its associated tools. It is designed to be distribution neutral, following the Linux Standard Base and other relevant standards and conventions.
The LPIC program is designed in multiple levels. Determining which tasks were suitable to each level was done using a "Job Task Analysis" (JTA) survey. As with all of the LPIC exam development processes, the JTA was developed and executed using recognized psychometric processes, to ensure its relevance and high quality.
The LPIC program consists of three levels of certification: LPIC-1, LPIC-2 and LPIC-3.
Junior Level Linux Professional (LPIC-1)
- Pre-Requisites: None
- Requirements: Passing Exams 101 and 102
- Overview of Tasks: To pass Level 1 someone should be able to:
- Work at the Linux command line
- Perform easy maintenance tasks: help out users, add users to a larger system, backup & restore, shutdown & reboot
- Install and configure a workstation (including X) and connect it to a LAN, or a stand-alone PC via modem to the Internet.
Advanced Level Linux Professional (LPIC-2)
- Pre-Requisites: You must have an active LPIC-1 certification to receive LPIC-2 certification, but the LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 exams may be taken in any order.
- Requirements: Passing Exams 201 and 202
- Overview of Tasks: To pass Level 2 someone should be able to:
- Administer a small to medium-sized site
- Plan, implement, maintain, keep consistent, secure, and troubleshoot a small mixed (MS, Linux) network, including a:
- LAN server (samba)
- Internet Gateway (firewall, proxy, mail, news)
- Internet Server (webserver, FTP server)
- Supervise assistants
- Advise management on automation and purchases
Senior Level Linux Professional (LPIC-3)
The LPIC-3 Certification program represents the culmination of LPI's Certification Program.
LPIC-3 is designed for the "enterprise-level" Linux professional. The program has been developed with the input of hundreds of Linux professionals from around the globe and with input from some of the world's leading technology companies. It also represents the highest level of professional, distribution-neutral Linux certification within the industry.
The LPIC-3 program consists of a single exam for LPIC-3 "Core" designation.
The following are the Ubuntu Certifications:
- Ubuntu Certified Professional
- Deploying Ubuntu Server in an Enterprise Environment
- Ubuntu Desktop Training
Ubuntu Certified Professional
The Ubuntu Certified Professional (UCP) is a training certification based on the LPI level 1 certification. To earn the UCP, candidates are required to pass the LPI 101, LPI 102 and the Ubuntu 199 exams. Exams can be taken in any order. Two, five day courses, Ubuntu Professional Courses 1 & 2, will assist System Administrators to pass the required exams and achieve the Ubuntu Certified Professional certification.The certification tests student's ability to:
- Install and configure Ubuntu systems
- Perform routine administration tasks: boot and shut down the system, manage user accounts and file systems, and maintain system security
- Configure network connectivity and key network services
- Work productively at the Linux command line
Deploying Ubuntu Server in an Enterprise
This hands-on course will provide participants with the skills they need to deploy, configure and maintain secure Ubuntu Server Edition within the enterprise infrastructure. The course is based on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and will help system administrators to implement services at an advanced level. Extensive lab exercises in a multi-server virtual machine environment will help attendees put their new skills into practice.
If you are an experienced Linux or Unix system administrator working in an organisation, which is about to, or has already, deployed Ubuntu desktop and servers in the office, this course is for you!
After completing this course, you will be able to:
- Install and deploy an Ubuntu Server in an enterprise environment
- Use Debian package management tools to:
- Install, configure, update and upgrade packages
- Set up a repository
- Manage a mirror service
- Automate updates
- Monitor server status remotely
- Define and implement a Backup strategy
- Create and deploy virtual Machines using KVM and libvirt
- Manage directory services and authentication using OpenLDAP and Kerberos
- Keep servers as secure as possible
Ubuntu Desktop Training
This course provides both home and office users with hands on training on Ubuntu. No prior knowledge of Ubuntu is required, although computer literacy is assumed and is a pre-requisite. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS must be installed on the computer hard disk before starting this course. The Ubuntu desktop course is designed to be modular. If all lessons are studied in a classroom, it should be completed within two full days. However, topics and lessons can be selected as required and a day’s content designed to suit the key learning objectives.
- List companies, organisations or schools who is conducting FOSS education and training in your country
- Critique or support the case study in 6.2.2
- Make a list of other FOSS certifications which might be available
- What are the obstacles, if any, you might perceive in people not wanting to attend FOSS training courses?
- Which FOSS certification is more recognisable in your country?
Participants will engage in an individual exercise the list the benefits of training. Their responses will result in a plenary/discussion.
Participants will list their knowledge of FOSS certifications/training. Participants with similar lists will be grouped to discuss and present the benefits of each certification/training.