Linux in Schools

It’s well known that there’s a shortage of qualified candidates to fill IT jobs. Employers are urgently looking for people to fill DevOps, development, sysadmin, and other IT roles—especially employees with experience in the cloud, web technologies, and Linux—to manage the infrastructure powering their businesses.

According to the Linux Foundation, more than 1 million courses in Linux and open source software have been taken by aspiring IT pros through its partnership with EdX. But to meet the IT workforce’s demands for skilled employees now and in the future, we need to start preparing people a lot earlier in life—in pre-K through 12th grade (PK-12) schools.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

Many of today’s students use laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets in school, but few have access to their underlying operating systems or software tools. Even though the popular Chromebooks are Linux-based computers, students usually aren’t allowed to interact with the operating system. Usually, they are reduced to consumers of educational applications to produce content such as videos, presentations, essays, research papers, and more.

Validating learning

Open source advocates and educators are doing great things to teach PK-12 students the skills they’ll need in the workforce, but there are a limited number of certification opportunities for students to validate their learning. Certification is strongly recommended, if not required, for employment in many IT jobs, so I believe that this is an area that’s ripe for opportunity.

Here are two options for students who want to validate their knowledge.

  • There’s no charge to take EdX’s free online Linux course, sponsored by the Linux Foundation, which also has a $99 certification option. The course is taught by Jerry Cooperstein from the Linux Foundation, and the verified certificate provides proof of knowledge and skills gained.
  • Cisco Networking Academy provides courses in NDG Linux Essentials. The courses can be found in colleges, high schools, and vocational training centers, and can lead to Linux Professional Institute certifications and the CompTIA Linux+ certificate.