At 12:37 PM -0400 6/24/99, Jared Buckley wrote:
>Ok, so to get things started off, here's a question that we need to ask
>ourselves before we begin considering a draft proposal for creating an
>"approved courseware" program:
> 1) Should we engage in granting our seal of approval to
> various vendors courseware and training programs?
> o Additional future source of revenue for LPI.
> o Creates a tie-in that should increase
> participation and visibility.
> o Gives us some measure of control over how
> the programs are developed.
> o Requires many additional resources from LPI
> including, but not limited to staffing.
> o Until a successful program gets off the ground,
> approving vendor courseware will siphon funds
> away from our core responsibility: test creation.
> o Creates potential ethical problems in that we're
> essentially awarding preferred status to vendors.

We need to go back to our strategic vision and ask ourselves why we are going down this road. The most succinct vision statement is at the top of the LPI homepage:

"A community project to develop professional certification for Linux."

The LPI Mission Statement expands on this:

"The Linux Professional Institute believes in the need for a standardized, multi-national, and respected program to certify levels of individual expertise in Linux. This program must be able to satisfy the requirements of Linux professionals, as well as organizations which would employ or contract them.

"Our goal is to design and deliver such a program from within the Linux community, using both volunteer and hired resources as necessary. We resolve to undertake a well-considered, open, disciplined development process, leading directly to the establishment of a recognized and widely-endorsed Linux certification body."

The question we need to answer is:

How does LPI approval/certification of vendor training programs
contribute to this goal/mission/vision?

Put another way,

Do we really want to follow the Microsoft model with its Microsoft Authorized Training Centers, Microsoft-certified instructors and Microsoft-certified courseware?

I don't think so, because this runs counter to the entire open source philosophy. If the standards are properly formed (and that process seems to be moving along well) and the testing process has the proper degree of integrity, then the marketplace will validate the quality of the training through the success rate on the certification exams. If the training provided by some vendors does not prepare a reasonable rate of its students to pass the exam, then the word will get around and those venders will fade from the scene. Free enterprise at its very best.

Taken from the other side of the issue, does LPI want to take on the legal baggage of liability for the quality of a training program? What happens when someone takes an LPI-certified training program and cannot pass the exam after repeated tries? Whose fault is that? Do we want to let the lawyers have the last word on this?

Someone on this list has said companies demand certified training. Do they really mean certified classes (the process) or skilled, certified workers (the end result)?

Without fees for the certification of training programs, how will LPI finance its operation? Now we are down to the real question! Microsoft has established a cash cow by linking the training and the certification process. Is that the model we want to follow?

There is a certification model out there I recommend we use as a benchmark. The Project Management Institute ( is the keeper of standards in the project management profession. They publish the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) which is available from their website. The PMBOK is their open standard; everything covered on the exam is in it. Vendors are free to design their own courseware and market their own courses. PMI has no role in the training process other than to publish the PMBOK. The Institute raises money from administering the exam ($500+ a pop), membership in the organization itself (individual and corporate) and selling books. Their program is worth a look, and their standing in the PM world is something LPI should seek to emulate.

Bottom Line: We need to ask ourselves why we are taking this journey. Are we trying to establish a noncommercial standard to enhance the acceptable of Linux as a mainstream operating system and thereby have a major positive impact on our industry, or are we trying to establish a revenue stream?

Tom Pilsch
Georgia Tech College of Computing
Continuing Education

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