This week I was at Department of Computer Science, Rajiv Ghandhi Institute of Technology , Kottayam in connection with a short term training program for young Computer Science Lecturers of various Engineering Colleges. AICTE has made attendance in this kind of training programs mandatory for all lectures( of course for promotions). Usually, these programmes are conducted in a leisurely manner. Teachers take a break from their routine work and enjoy the course as leisurely exercise . The course at RIT was also running in the same manner. There were expert talks on java html and some other hot technologies, but nobody was bothered.
I was asked to take 4 sessions ( 12 hours) on developing web applications in LAMP environment. The first thing I asked the course coordinator was to arrange classes in the computer lab. I made a few simple slide explaining how to write “hello world” in php and did the entire presentation in the lab. I asked every one to actually type the scripts and upload it to a web server.
I found out several interesting thing. Most of our young computer science lecturers have never used thing like ftp, ssh and vi. I had some real trouble in making them understand the basics of web programming. Another strange thing was that no one knew sql.
At the end of my fourth session , I forced all of them to write a small database driven mark list lookup and printing program. Most of them were astonished to see that such a web application is trivial.
I am pretty amazed to see a vertical drop in the quality of teachers in Engineering College . ( I feel this daily at my college too). Nobody knows programming. The only programming experience they have is in Turbo C. Any programming with out an IDE is disastrous for them. ( I have banned the use of Turbo C in my college. Our students have no problem adjusting to gcc and vi. But some of our teachers were frantically looking for conio.h :D)
Any way, the two day program rekindled my interest in FLOSS as a tool for better Engineering Education. I am going to motivate some of my student about it.