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Scratching The Itch? On LPI's Academic Advisory Council

December 4, 2018 - by Brian Smith

There may be no greater return on investment, and for not just the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) or any professional or learning organization, in the quest for human knowledge, than focusing on young adults who are still planning their careers. They are the next generation of leaders.  Academic programs are essential to the early success of young adults, and LPI's combination of low barrier to entry and representation throughout the world, provided for an ideal foundation in Academia.  But as Academic partners grew in number, LPI Executive Director, Matt Rice, faced a challenge.

He started with a simple question to partners:  "What do you need?" The answers from Academic partners varied, and every meeting with just a  partner resulted in an often exponential exchange to find common answers among other partners. Although LPI had existing Advisory avenues for commercial and non-profit endeavors, the answers to question of need that came from Academia were different, interwoven and complex.  To address this, the Academic Advisory Council (AAC) was born to provide a mechanism for collaboration between partners and LPI's leadership. The goal? Enabling and addressing the needs of Academia.

At LPI Global Summit 2017 in Dublin, Thomas Michels became chair of the still young AAC.  Now, one year into the role, we sat down with Thomas at the LPI Global Summit 2018 in Benidorm.

Knowing, Then Goals, Then Groups

Before Thomas could answer Matt's standard question, "What do you need?", Thomas spent the first month working with the council, This was "before we knew what we needed to do.

New long-term goals were an immediate focus for the new chair, and established by the end of his first month.  Goal setting was, and still is, a group effort in the AAC, involving all thirteen members. Although the initial goals were long-term in nature, they were designed to show some achievable and impacting results within six months.

Another focus during Thomas' early tenure, was to define the AAC's structure.  Working groups were quickly formed around existing and ongoing developments, including some newer developments.  Learning materials, an on-going Academic need, was now addressed by the Learning Materials Working Group consisting of a supermajority of the council; around nine to ten members according to Thomas.

New developments tend to be smaller, with one having only three people.

Individual Student Itch

Formal university programs in technology will always be a target for any Academic development, from curriculum to materials. But as Thomas was quick to point out, the AAC working groups are to "develop for students and schools."  Expanding this point further, the focus is on the needs of "individual students" to be successful in their careers, starting with LPI Certification.

As with most open source projects, needs always begin with those individuals having an itch they need to scratch.  The LPI AAC working groups will develop the scratches to help those students.  It flips the traditional market survey, industry trend and other reports, away from the technology leaders and back toward the students, the next generation of technology leaders.

It's an approach that may not be of interest to some in industry, training, and professional development.  Part of this may be that any return on investment is either poor, immeasurable, and may even be seen as charity by those entities.  Nevertheless, this has essentially been the occasionally indirect, sometimes unspoken, but continuing mission of LPI for two decades.

Continuing Mission

Over time, via these types of efforts, and among many individual students at the school level, LPI will address the individual itch with a collaborative scratch. This will happen with many individual locales and  nations, in order to foster greater common developments. That eventual commons will serve to create a new set of formal courseware designed for the Academic and university level curriculum.

As Chairman of the Linux Professional Institute Academic Advisory Council, Thomas encourages anyone interested in Academic developments to become involved with the AAC.  And for those who are willing, he has these questions.

"Who are you and what is your Academic Background?"

"Why do you want to join?"

According to Thomas, of the current thirteen members, four to five are "core members" and continually involved.  Thomas is looking for more core members who can contribute at the same level of involvement, hence his latter question of why.

Are you someone willing to work with students and schools, asking them "What do you need?" It's the same question that goes all the way back to what Matt, LPI Executive Director, always asks any partner.

LPI AAC Chairman Thomas Michels can be reached at thomasmichels@gmx.de .