Friday, February 17, 2006

Is Anybody Teaching "The Worry-Free Web Server?"

Redmondmag.com, "The Independent Voice of the Microsoft IT Community," writes that:

"The open source Apache Web server is by far the most popular Web server in the world. According to Netcraft Ltd.’s December 2005 survey, nearly 70 percent of the developers they surveyed said they worked with Apache. That same survey revealed that only 20 percent worked with its nearest competitor, Microsoft’s IIS." (http://redmondmag.com/features/article.asp?editorialsid=552)

This is a very good article discussing the merits of Apache, concluding that unless you need Microsoft IIS to integerate with other Microsoft products on an internet, "Apache is a better way to go" for Web services.

OK, so here is my question. Apache runs 70% of the world's web servers. It is free. It can be set up on an old (and I mean OLD) PC that most people would love to donate to a student instead of putting it in landfill. A student who learns to set up Linux, install Apache, and then host websites now has some real, tangible skills to bring to the marketplace. And they don't have to be able to afford to buy an expensive computer and software to keep their skills up after school. So why is Apache not taught in our schools?

1. Because there are no marketing dollars promoting it at Ed Tech shows.
2. Because teaching Apache requires a skill level that may not be available from existing teachers.
3. Because it's less glamorous.

The last point affects both the teachers and the students. If I have limited computer background, and I have a choice between learning Photoshop or Publisher to teach to my kids, or learning Apache and core networking concepts, I'll choose Photoshop and Publisher any day. And if you ask the students what they want to learn--same answer.

I talked yesterday with a neat guy helping to start a technical school in a public school district. They are going to focus on computer media--publishing, video, etc. I asked him if they had plans to teach any programming or networking--he said not now, since the first thing they have to do is to attract students to the school. OK, I understand that, but it does seem to me that the computer classes then become a lot like the dance classes--in most schools, they are fun to be in, but someone serious about dance goes somewhere and takes private lessons to get the real fundamentals.
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