Talking to Masters Students in DIT
Well I gave my first talk today to DIT Masters Students this morning. Early start on a Saturday morning, they have a day of Case studies and get in speakers once a month. Great idea to get some first hand knowledge on topics rather than reading about them.
As I said it was my first talk, in the past I’ve always gotten someone else to give a presentation as I’m more the organiser behind it. This time I decided to bite the bullet and give a short talk. It went well I think. Not knowing what our target audience views on the subject we asked a few questions to give us an idea of the level of knowledge on the subject. Again the students were masters students, it’s a managerial course aimed at Information Technology.
A show of hands raised shows us a lot were working already in IT, and some as managers, others were doing it as a follow on course from their undergrad. None of them seemed to have had much if any experience in the Open Source field. Few said they had used Open Office and that was about it really.
There were four speakers including myself this morning, Patrick O’Connor and Paul O’Malley gave a talk on “Teach your boss to floss“, Breaking their talks down into two parts. They covered how their experience in the work place and working with SMEs is benefiting SMEs using Open Source in every day business.
Next up was Declan McGrath, who was talking about the “Relationships between the Open Source communities in Ireland“ in general, focusing on Ruby as he is a ruby developer. He gave a quick demo to the students to show them how easy it was to set up. I have to say I was rather impressed and something I will definitely follow up on.
Finally me! I spoke on “To Ubuntu and beyond: Where individual participation can take you“. I tried to explain how I got into Open Source. My involvement in it, the role I play and how there are many ways you can contribute. I used the example of a ladder, going from point A to point B. Some people in life take the direct route, know they are a developer and know what they want to do and how to achieve it. I’m not that person, I know I love technology, I know I dislike coding to an extent, I want to contribute, I’m good at other things, so the path I take is not direct it’s a lattice I weave and go up and get to places find out more about things and work where I can in places I can make a small difference. It’s my contribution.
I have to say I was a little disappointed in the lack of feedback and questions over all to the speakers. There were only two questions posed that were then referenced by all speakers throughout.
Q: Why has Open Office not taken off as well as Microsoft Office?
Q: Even in large a company, managers are only trained in (proprietary )standard products/applications?
I’m not sure the answer to the first question. Alan Bell found figures to show how some countries have adopted it.
But to the second statement, I guess to me I find some managers don’t look outside the box, look for alternatives, and are in their comfort zone. The idea of change is often feared from a mangers perspective and I also think they don’t want to deal with their co-workers after the change has been implemented. So for the quiet life they leave it as is.
I’m glad I did my short talk today, it’s given me a bit more courage to do it again, I left some Karmic CDs there and students did take them, so I hope at the next Ubuntu Hour people will come along with suggestions after trying it out, or if they need help, we can point them in the right direction.