[OSGeo-Discuss] Training and certification

Bob Basques Bob.Basques at ci.stpaul.mn.us
Fri Jun 10 08:27:00 PDT 2011


Sorry, I thought of another piece to this conversation that might stimulate the conversation. 

Here at the City we're currently pursuing a Public Works Accreditation for use of Best Practices. 

My question to the group would be, what would a theoretical response be from OSGEO on the question of "What are the Best Practices related to the use of Open Source (geo) Software?"  (or some such). 

Administratively, this type of question comes up often, and the vagaries of Open Source use don't seem to lend themselves to a concrete answer.   It seems like answering such a question with a more comprehensive level of training and certification in place would be much easier. 

Am I think about this in the wrong way? 


>>> "Bob Basques" <Bob.Basques at ci.stpaul.mn.us> wrote:


I'm liking this thread.  Seems like a long time coming to tell the truth. 

I think this training aspect needs to happen no matter what.  I'm still foggy on the details to implement, same as everyone else.  It needs to be thought about in the context of moving projects as well as the OSGEO org ahead.  I don't see this as something that is likely to step on the toes of anyone already building out training materials, but more as a unified method for such entities to build out their training materials. 

My thoughts in this area focus on the projects themselves.  I think there is more than one level of "certification" that needs to be thought about.   

1.)  First (and of my personal interest) is how a individual project relates it's capabilities to the masses via training and education, with adequate upkeep of same, once something like this is started, it needs to be kept up as the project develops as well.  I always thought this should be something that was kept close to the Project authors themselves, or at least in a project sanctioned realm of some sort, am I describing another development silo possibly?  It also seems like it might be best to only task the project builders with a framework or basic description requirement of some sort, but also directly related to the building out of a much more detailed tutorial or educational curriculum for both the trainers as well as the trainees. Tips and tricks for operation also seem like they may originate this level on a version by version basis. 

2.) This seems like an obvious OSGEO incubation chunk of some sort.  Even if the incubation piece is only looking at the training foundational aspects.  Once a foundational educational piece is in place, it should be much easier to build out detailed training materials after the fact.  Could this be related to some sort of ongoing incubation process, whereby a project is re-examined over time (see note below). 

3.) Some upper level recognition/certification system that can recognize an individuals adeptness at using the individual OSGEO products/projects.  This could be in partnership with higher level EDUs or even Private entities, and can be closely tied to a commercial effort without impacting OSGEO proper, which is (should be) in the position of facilitating this type of work, not competing with it. 

NOTE: A thought that popped up while writing this -How would previous incubated projects be retroactively brought up to some new OSGEO standards as they are developed, is there a re-certification process at some point that is already built in?, projects are constantly being developed/redeveloped over time.  What constitutes re-examination of a projection? 


>>> Daniel Ames <dan.ames at isu.edu> wrote:

I tend to agree with Cameron on this one. There is already the GISci certification process that we don't want to compete with. Plus which particular tools from the OSGeo stack would one be required to be proficient in to be "OSGeo Certified". I think that if a particular project wanted to create a certification program - perhaps with help from OSGeo - that would make more sense. One could become "certified in GRASS". But to say you are "OSGeo Certified" would be hard to quantify/explain.

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 1:08 AM, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com> wrote:

On 10/06/2011 4:07 PM, Paolo Cavallini wrote:

Il 09/06/2011 21:38, Tyler Mitchell ha scritto:

Anyone else thinking about this or want to weigh-in on what their thoughts were?
If this competes with the activities the professionals and enterprises are currently
offering, -1. We want OSGeo to support our work, not to compete with it. This would
have a number of negative consequences, IMHO.
All the best.

Like Paolo, I'm very nervous about OSGeo taking on a training role for the same reasons.
Providing good training is a difficult business, which is provided by many of the OSGeo businesses who back OSGeo. If OSGeo starts to act as a business by providing such training, then OSGeo will start competing against its' core supporters. This has the potential to fracture the very strong OSGeo community, which is a bad thing.

And while in principle, the idea of OSGeo providing a trusted, unbiased training certification program, I think a very quick review of the business case behind it will make it unfavourable. Either the training program will be of low quality and low credibility, or it will attach such high cost to courses that the courses will be harder to sell.

Creating certification takes a lot of work, which needs to be resourced. I might be wrong, but I can't see volunteers stepping forward to build a certification program, at least not in the immediate future. Maybe some Governments might step up (as has been done for certifying OGC standards), but I expect governments will have better things to spend money on. The other group who could write a certification program are training organisations themselves. But I don't think these training organisations are likely to make much extra money with a certification in place. And I don't think trainees are likely prepared to pay an extra 30% for their course in order to see a "certification" stamp. (And that 30% is just to pay for certification development, before OSGeo makes a profit).

I'd like to be proven wrong, but I don't think we are ready for OSGeo certification, and I think it is bad business for OSGeo to compete with OSGeo companies by providing training directly.

Cameron Shorter
Geospatial Solutions Manager
Tel: +61 (0)2 8570 5050
Mob: +61 (0)419 142 254

Think Globally, Fix Locally
Geospatial Solutions enhanced with Open Standards and Open Source

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Daniel P. Ames, Ph.D. PE
Associate Professor, Geosciences
Idaho State University - Idaho Falls
dan.ames at isu.edu

See you at MapWindow 2011: www.mapwindow.org/conference/2011
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