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Old Software or Open Source?

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-give-'em-all-slide-rules dept.

Education 454

Pakled writes "I teach a high school multimedia course. We were scheduled to get new software this year but due to several pointy haired bosses, no software was ordered. The software I have to teach is Flash 5, Dreamweaver 2000, Photoshop 7 and (god help me) Movie Maker. The question is: is it better to teach old commercial software or their open source counterparts (Komposer, Gimp, etc.)? Is the steep learning curve and slightly less uniform design worth a little student frustration to teach them software written in the past 5 years?"

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454 comments

Wow shortest Ask Slashdot ever. (5, Funny)

notaspunkymonkey (984275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586161)

Yes, next question?...

Re:Wow shortest Ask Slashdot ever. (5, Funny)

trainman (6872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586227)

Agreed. This person came to slashdot to ask such a question?

It'd be like asking Larry Ellison, "So, I have this old version of Oracle we use in the classroom, but I want to upgrade to something newer. Tell me about this MySQL thing I keep hearing about...."

Heaven help us if RMS ever gets wind of this article....

Re:Wow shortest Ask Slashdot ever. (5, Insightful)

notaspunkymonkey (984275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586599)

Having been modded as redundant I feel need to elaborate. (Sorry was in a strange rush to get my first ever first post) We are talking about high school children now - and as such the emphasis is surely on the do's and don't of good graphic design, its about teaching kids good techniques, and style. This in my opinion is best performed using tools which are freely available to the children so that they can go away and practice what they have been taught. Using the latest version of Photoshop is likely to hinder their ability to practice as not many highschool kids in my experiance have the money to drop on the latest and greatest Adobe produce, sure they can go and download a copy from a torrent site - but is this something which we should encourage, all be it indirectly. If you use GIMP and the other Open Source software which are freely available, they can practice techniques and gain a good insight into the design - before they go on and perfect those skills in higher education. Where they may have the budget to purchase the latest over priced packages.

Re:Wow shortest Ask Slashdot ever. (1, Insightful)

kermyt (99494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586699)

am I the only one that sees the irony of labeling a first post as redundant?

Either/Or (5, Insightful)

s_clarke1 (1198113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586169)

In my opinion, a gathering of both would be far better... I mean, realistically in the commercial world, it tends to be the "high flyers" which companies go for, (Photoshop, Flash etc) however, teaching students the opensrouce alternatives, gives them a better feel for newer software, and shows them how adaptions have been made.

Re:Either/Or (5, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586351)

I'd second this but for a different reason. First an anecdote. Long ago when I was taking freshman physics lab, they gave us the worlds crappiest equipment to do classic physics experiments. Why? Not because they were cheap. On the contrary, keeping that crap working must have cost a lot. No the point was this was about education on how to do science not proving the results of those experiments.

There were two reasons. 1) we needed to learn how to do data analysis in the presence of noise. 2) the next big science experiment is always done on tools not quite right to do it.

So it depends on what you want to teach your kids. You might be interested in the graphic arts product. You might be interested in vocational training on current industrial standard tools. Or you might be interested in teaching them how to coax an application to do something it was not really meant to do. Or even you might want them to lift the hood and build the next great graphics art tool.

If it's either of the latter then open source. If it's the first then both. If it's the vocational training then go with the older but more standard tools.

Wake up (3, Insightful)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586517)

Your students are far better off using tools that people used 8 years ago, than tools that no one uses today.

In particular, anyone who suggests using the GIMP over any moderately recent version of Photoshop for serious work should be sacked, tarred, feathered and shipped to Guantanamo. Photoshop 7 is light years ahead of GIMP today, and I will bet anyone here $5 that it's way ahead of where GIMP will be in ten years. (GIMP will then be twice as old, and if it's twice as good then it will still suck rod.)

Dreamweaver and Flash are also non-negotiable components of any web authoring introduction.

The students who are good candidates for open-source software will usually find their own way there. Don't force them to use OSS tools which are practically assured of leaving a bad taste in their mouths.

Re:Wake up (5, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586565)

$5? Wow, you certainly are sure of your convictions.

Just because you don't like GIMP doesn't mean that it's useless. I find it easier to use than Photoshop. The only problem with it is if you think the Windows way of thinking is the only way to think. But hey, that's what schools are for, right, teach kids what to do, rather than how to think.

Re:Wake up (0, Flamebait)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586713)

The only problem with it is if you think the Windows way of thinking is the only way to think.

Look, if you want to get out the ruler and compare dicks, I am not afraid. I have never owned a Windows machine, I've been running BSD Unix for over ten years, and I was using Photoshop on my Mac SE when you were still shitting in diapers and gumming your mom's baggy teat.

Separation from the "Windows way of thinking" is not GIMP's only problem. If anything, that's one of its strong points. It still doesn't change the fact that Photoshop is both the industry standard, and more powerful than its competition (not to mention easy to use, though your FOSS Elite Freethinking mind disagrees).

Re:Wake up (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586677)

I just discovered that GIMP has a clone tool. I could easily retouch a picture. Agreed, the UI is obnoxious as hell, but it has advanced.

BTW, Krita (from KOffice) is still behind GIMP (no script-fu), but it's running much faster in the multimedia race, and it already supports CMYK and 16bit color space.

That said, yes, it's sad that FOSS multimedia tools are years behind their commercial counterparts.

Re:Wake up (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586679)

I agree with much of what you say, but disagree with the conclusions. If you do not expose your students to tools they are likely to be using in the workplace, you are likely to do them a disservice, but it depends a lot on how long it will be until the use them professionally. What age does high school start? In the USA, I believe it's age 14. Assuming the students then go on to do a degree (typically 4 years in the USA) then they will be 22 by the time they are looking for a job. Eight years is a long time in software. There is about the same difference between the office apps I was taught at age 14 and OpenOffice as there is between them and Microsoft Office. I was taught Paint Shop Pro (3, I think) at school and it has about as much in common with The GIMP as it does with a recent Photoshop.

Teaching two or more tools will put students in much better position to learn new tools later. If they understand what they are doing, rather than how the tool is used, then they will be much better able to adjust later.

Dreamweaver and Flash are also non-negotiable components of any web authoring introduction.
Remember, this is high school, not a vocational college. An understanding of HTML would serve them a lot better than using any WYSIWYG tool, particularly an understanding of the CSS box model. The tools change, but the basic assumptions remain valid. I was taught some WYWIWYG tool that no longer exists, but I was also taught the basics of SGML. Guess which I've found more useful.

Re:Wake up (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586689)

Better tell Disney they should sack all their animators then you twit.

Oh, silly me, they're using Film Gimp; not plain old Gimp. Imagine, if it hadn't been open source, they could have waited five years for Adobe to release a version of Photoshop for the same purpose.

Re:Wake up (1)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586773)

I'm not talking about CinePaint, the benefits of open source code, or Disney, so I fail to see how your comment was any more worth hearing than a good after-dinner belch.

Alternative to GIMP/Photoshop (1)

klubar (591384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586763)

You should look into Paintshop Pro (or whatever it is called today). It's actually a decent program for around $100. Does 80% of what Photoshop does and 110% of GIMP. If the students go off and become graphic designers they will have plenty of time to learn photoshop.

I'd strongly vote for the commercial stuff as it's more relevent -- and even old versions will do enough. As your budget permits, buy a educational license or two for those who really need the most advanced features. (It's unlikely that most students will really need the features of CS3 for most work.)

What on earth is the point (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586173)

in teaching stuff that old? It'd be a bit like teaching Creationism in school.

Re:What on earth is the point (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586331)

Which is more important, the pen, or the thought driving it?
Why not teach students how
  • to think along procedural and functional lines
  • to consider the information in the abstract
  • to decompose the system and troubleshoot the gazintas and the gazoutas
  • to RTFM and search the web when the politician hits the fan
  • to calmly view ideas that one finds objectionable (Creationism, proprietary licensing)
  • to implement sound practices (version control, unit testing)
Binding the conversation to specific software versions seems a cop-out.

Suggestion (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586185)

Well, is a little of both an option? For some of them at least. Flash 5 is almost a completely different program from the modern versions of flash, the actionscript has changed almost entirely, and the layout is very different. The other legacy programs still have *some* semebelence to their newer versions, so letting them get their feet wet might be a good idea. However, you can present it in a way "this is what photoshop looked like a couple years ago and it still looks pretty similar. Due to restrictions we can't show you a current copy, however here is a free alternative called gimp that can do all of the same things, and you can play with it at home!"

Re:Suggestion (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586265)

that can do all of the same things
Not so, but it is enough if all one wishes to do is touch up a picture.

Re:Suggestion (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586591)

Enough if you want to do 90% of what Photoshop can do (basically you don't need CMYK output). The only thing it won't do is run Photoshop filters, or have a crappy MDI interface that gets in the way of actual work.

Teaching Graphic Design (4, Informative)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586191)

Although Gimp resembles Photoshop it isn't the same. Some skills are transferable but if you are teaching graphic design it's silly to teach anything other then what industry uses. It means they must relearn many skills once they enter the job market. If your teaching at a higher more theoretical level then it might be acceptable because more of it transfers. But if it's a trades school or technical college you're better off teaching the actual industry tools regardless of cost.

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586363)

A person who understands theory can figure out anything. A person who learns how to click a specific button in a specific place is useless.
It's not a vocational school, so don't teach to a vocation.

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1)

stuporglue (1167677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586719)

Agreed. My university graphics course taught principles, and let us use whatever tools we wanted. Examples were mostly shown using Photoshop, but some were shown with OSS tools. I did all the assignments except for the Flash animation ones with OSS tools (Gimp / Inkscape). Another possible angle : If you want students to continue to do graphics after the class, why not teach them on the tools that they can freely and legally get? If they think they need Photoshop to edit a picture, many of them will either not bother editing pictures, or will pirate the software. That said, being able to put the "Photoshop" bullet point on a resume may be more useful than "Expert GIMP user"

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1)

slp2007 (1198771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586765)

i agree completely. i don't understand why people "teach software." i studied architecture and industrial design starting in high school and we learned theory, engineering standards, how to draw, materials, etc. we didn't "learn autocad." even after i switched to comp sci, i never concentrated on a single piece of technology. i don't know how many programmers and designers i've met that can only work in one ide. a designer should be able to communicate regardless of software involved, and a programmer should be able to write their code down on paper. i wouldn't hire any professional that says, "i only work in dreamweaver..." teach them about design theory. teach them about programming. who cares what software is available.

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1)

flewp (458359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586545)

I haven't used the Gimp in years, but I can see it be using to teach the ideas. While it may not have the same exact tools and features, if it can be used to teach the ideas and concepts, it might be a viable alternative.

That said, given that PS is THE standard in the industry, I would say it's best to teach with it. Not only can you teach the theory behind everything, you can also teach the program they'd actually be using. People here on /. may not like to hear it, but the Gimp is NOT a viable alternative in the industry, so knowing a specific program is almost as important as knowing the theory and ideas.

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586549)

This is high school, man. High school. The only thing unsuitable about teaching the gimp instead of photoshop -- and saving thousands in the process -- is the freaking name.

It's time to get over it. We all know that photoshop currently has no equal in the professional graphics design industry. But again, what exactly does that have to do with an introductory graphics class in freaking high school? Don't try to blow the situation out of hand.

Bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586559)

How does it make a difference knowing what "dodge" or "burn" means in a photo application where the tool is held?

How does it make a difference knowing what happens when you change Gamma, colour balance or use a gaussian blur when it's accessed in a different panel?

As the other poster says, you're teaching theory, not "how to get a job as a Photoshop 7 user", which is just as well because it'll be Photoshop 2010 (the year we wore contacts?) by the time they leave school and start work. And knowing PS7 won't help any more. Unless the pace of "innovation" slows down a lot over the coming years...

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586663)

Wait... so if he teaches them Photoshop 7 [riapple.com] , they'll be better prepared to use Photoshop CS3 [flashdevices.net] than if they learned with GIMP? The interfaces are completely different, so they'll have to re-learn things anyway. Why not let them use a modern tool to learn on?

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1, Redundant)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586727)

Agreed. Transitioning from APS 7.0 to CS, CS2 is an incremental change. New filters, a few new tools, better previews, all in all, if you have a solid grasp on 7.0, going to CS2 is not going to be a challenge. Although changing Alt-F,S from "Save" to "Open As" had to be one major step of retardation.

Flash 5 on the other hand... completely different beast. The students will probably be better off learning the concepts of an open source alternative.

-Rick

Re:Teaching Graphic Design (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586759)

The question was for a high school, not a vocational college. Most of the people attending a high school will not go on to become graphical designers. Most will, however, have some need to do some graphics work in the future. Teaching them a tool that they can download and use for occasional work is a good idea. Teaching them transferable skills is a better one.

Throw in a little school-angst... (0, Redundant)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586193)

Refuse to teach the class citing insufficient materials. The software required is not there, so you can't do it.

Then give everyone a copy of gimp and ubuntu anyway.

Re:Throw in a little school-angst... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586387)

Get a fucking job and you'll instantly understand why all these *idiotic* "just refuse" comments that invariably pop up like stinkweed whenever a professional conundrum is posed to Slashdot make the adults laugh bitterly. Refuse for a stupid reason (like this one) and you're likely gone. If you're not gone, you're pegged as being "difficult," and your future with the company is limited. The only situation in which you can refuse to do anything at work and *usually* come out unscathed is if it's due to immediate physical danger. That's all there is to it. Some day, you'll understand.

Re:Throw in a little school-angst... (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586501)

Oh hey, I usually don't feed the trolls but here is some info for starters:

I'm a Sr. Systems Programmer for a very large hospital.

I'm under the strict impression that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, just like I do. Titles don't mean much, and the truth and facts are what they are. If it is *physically* impossible to do the job you are required to do, because you do not have the tools to do it, YOU, the EMPLOYEE are *charged* with the (gasp) responsibility of holding your hand up and saying, "I need X to do Y and if I don't have X, I can't do Y."

Then, when you are denied X, revise your "CQI" or TQM or whatever TLA your org calls it... goals to reflect that performing task Y is *no longer* something you are required to do, because ultimately you will do it wrong. ...that's my usual angst response. In reality, I like my job enough to *RESEARCH* not one way to do a job, but the best way to do it - which includes looking for the best tool for the job.

Re:Throw in a little school-angst... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586609)

How about when you are given tools that have been shown to be more than adequate many times in the past, but then you suddenly raise your hand, stomp around, and say "But this won't do at all"?

Re:Throw in a little school-angst... (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586519)

Absolutely. It's foolish to think one could strike out against the holy employer.

Depends on what you're trying to do... (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586197)

The question is: is it better to teach old commercial software or their open source counterparts (Komposer, Gimp, etc.)?

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to teach them design or are you trying to train them in the use of software programs to accomplish any old goal?

If you're trying to teach them design principles in general, then I don't see what the difference is between outdated commercial software and their OSS counterparts. If you're trying to teach them to use software skills in software packages they are likely to see in the real world/college after graduation then that's not the best way to go about it.

If you're trying to teach both, I really don't know what to tell you. Probably retool a bit to put more emphasis on the design part and less on the use of specific software. Design skills change but not like specific software needs.

Good luck.

Re:Depends on what you're trying to do... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586425)

what does it matter what side you use as long as it does what you require? is Gimp enough for you to teach students how to do something or is an older proprietary solution superior in this regard? If you can get away with using OSS equivalents than by all means go for it- maybe note a few things about the older proprietary software [eg. in gimp you do this but in photoshop you...] there's not really much sense in going with a piece of software because it is more familiar and yet doesn't do what you want now does it? Not only that but students can get their own copy of FOSS sotware to use however they like- legally.

Re:Depends on what you're trying to do... (4, Insightful)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586485)

I think the key is that he/she is trying to teach. I just recently graduated from college and had to use A LOT of very expensive impressive software. I would have loved to do some of it from home and to continue to learn about things on my own. But I was not going to spend $1000 to play with some software. So the result? I STOPPED LEARNING THAT STUFF. Go for things the kids can continue to learn from on their own. Plus when working on my own I've gotten better (and free) help on Open Source stuff then on other types of software. So unless you plan to be their only teacher on the subject, use as much Open Source as you can. Only if you cant find an Open Source version should you use the pay for stuff.

Re:Depends on what you're trying to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586487)

Also depends on HOW you teach.

If you're teaching kids to write down step by step, including values of levels, what clicks you do to create or modify images, then it's probably better to use whatever is closest to what they will use.

If you're teaching for understanding the fundamental ideas of how to do it, and they can later adapt those concepts to whatever menu system they're likely to come across, I'd go with more recent OpenSource stuff, partly because they can download those programs at home without cost, and are more likely to practice/play.

Concepts (5, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586201)

Use whatever software allows you to teach the concepts to your students in the easiest manner. The tools change much faster than the concepts so don't fret too much about which tool to use. Whichever one is easier for you to use and teach with, use that

Re:Concepts (1)

TobyRush (957946) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586639)

I couldn't agree more with the parent's first sentence. As a teacher, I think teaching the concepts that underlie these programs is much, much more effective than having the students memorize icons and menus. It still ruffles my feathers when I see classes entitled "Learning Dreamweaver" instead of "Basic Web Site Design." Should we rename "Beginning Painting" to "Learning to Use the Silver Brush® Grand Prix(TM) Super Brush"?

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586205)

How about a sheet of paper, and get this: pen AND pencil.

Use Both (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586209)

I would use both. The Open Source stuff is not too bad and increasingly used. Having one (painful) session with the old stuff will mean they will not be shocked when they are face to face with it in the workplace.

With Gimp and Photoshop, there is little question. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586231)

Gimp clearly cannot compare with Photoshop, and you'd be hard pressed to find Gimp in any professional office. If these students intend to find work with their skills, then Photoshop by far is the best option of the two.

Well I'll be hard pressed (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586543)

Gimp clearly cannot compare with Photoshop, and you'd be hard pressed to find Gimp in any professional office.

Well I'll be haarrd-pressed![1] I work for a small business, and I use GIMP to prepare product images for the web store.

[1] Said in the tone of "Well I'll be dog-gone!"

Re:With Gimp and Photoshop, there is little questi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586647)

Photoshop clearly cannot compare with Gimp, and you'd be soft pressed to find (a legally licensed copy of) Photoshop in any professional office. If these students intend to avoid jail with their skills, then Gimp by far is the best option of the two.

doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586237)

it doesn't matter, just don't teach them the program, but teach them what the program does.
It doesn't matter if its gimp or photoshop, just as long as you know what the diffrent between ansharpen mask, blur and gaussian blur is.

What are you teaching them, and why? (1)

buzzn (811479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586239)

Is this vocational training, or are you trying to teach them how the software works? If you're doing future-job-training, then you have little choice but to teach what they would be expected to know in the workforce. You won't be doing them a favor by giving them obscure and not-in-demand skills. Older versions of commercial software are largely the same, as vendors don't rewrite from scratch, they generally just add new features. However, if you want them to learn how a graphics filter works, using open-source software is obviously a huge advantage. Why not expose them to both?

Both... (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586243)

It's probably worth teaching the students on a selection of software, concentrating on "how to get stuff done" rather than on what particular apps to use.

People who were only taught a single app for a single purpose often have problems adjusting to other programs, they don't understand what features to look for but rather just where to look for them which ofcourse falls over if the software changes, even between different versions of the same application.

It's also worth considering, even if you teach the most up to date and widely used software today... A lot can change very quickly in software, the apps you teach may not be used anymore when your students go out into the world of work, or there may be much newer versions in use. Conversely, many companies keep using even older versions of apps because they still get the job done.

So basically teach the widest selection of apps you can, explain the differences and similarities and focus on the job that needs doing rather than the tools for doing it. Also for anything that is open/free provide your students with a copy of it so they can take it home.

Depends on the students (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586245)

"Good" students should learn how to learn a variety of applications to accomplish a variety of goals. That way they are comfortable when Version++ appears, some future innovation spawns a new application category, or they work someplace that uses nonstandard IT. Mediocre students should learn the least number of "the magic incantations" that make the dominant vendor's application do the job.

Get whatever (including open source) for the first group and get Genuine Microsoft/Adobe stuff for the second group.

Re:Depends on the students (1)

Cycloid Torus (645618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586447)

Start with the premise that they are all "good" students - even the "mediocre" ones. Teach the outdated industry standard because you need to ground everyone in basics, but do offer open source on CDs. Some of the "mediocre" ones will surprise you. An "A" for a mediocre student may be a life changing event.

Teach the commercial software (3, Insightful)

joshv (13017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586259)

Oh come on. Is PS7 really that different than more recent versions? Not really. Better to teach them on old commercially viable software, where there is a real market for the skillset. Very very few people get hired for their skills with the Gimp.

Re:Teach the commercial software (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586527)

I think the answer is obvious. Why don't you let the students decide? Explain the situation, explain the pro's and cons. Then put it up to a vote. Even better make the assignments such that they can be accomplished using either tool set and let individual students decide which one they want to use. Obviously this will take a little more effort on your part and will require the students do a little more learning on their own to become familiar with the specific tool they chose.

After all is said and done you would at least have a better idea which way to go in the next session (or if it works out well you could leave it this way).

Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586261)

As an instructor who does have access to the latest and greatest commercial programs (like Adobe creative suite) I would suggest the open source route (at least w.r.t photoshop/Gimp, Dreamweaver/NVU). That will allow your students to lawfuly download the software for home, and still learn the underlying techniques and skills you are trying to teach.

That being said, for employment the students need to list the latest trends that the phbs all over the world recognize. Transitioning from Gimp -> CS3 or PS7-> CS3 will take about the same amount of time IMO.
So perhaps introduce both types of software, and then utilize the one that is best.

Principles (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586263)

How about teaching your students the principles of what they are going to do, so that (with some acclimatization) they can adapt to any software within the category you've taught.

For instance, as far as image editing is concerned, it would be nice to talk about brushes and layers, and filters, all the while showing that while different software can have various options, located in various menus, the work can be accomplished on either, as long as the person knows exactly what they are trying to do.

That way, your students would be more than just click-monkeys, who know little more than what sequence of buttons to push according to a flowchart.

Because otherwise they will wind up like our Pathology department administrator who, when I suggested that to save the school tens of thousands of dollars a year they should use OpenOffice and discontinue the MSOffice site license, turned to me and asked: "But without MSOffice, how will our people do any work?"

Movie Maker (2, Interesting)

svo (128675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586277)

Just out of spite, what would be the free/opensource alternative?

Kino or Cinelerra? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586725)

Just out of spite, what would be the free/opensource alternative [to Windows Movie Maker]?
I'm assuming Kino or Cinelerra run inside vmware could substitute in theory, even if its performance might not be sufficient for real-time use.

Ohh-Kay (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586297)

Multimedia course in high school, just great~

Anywho...Are you teaching them how to use tools or how to get a job?

I think OS is better because it tends to teach the theory, and it saves school a bucket load of cash. If you goal is to make cogs, go with what you have. If your goal is to make people who can think and achive a high standered, go OS.

A good painter understand colors, a great painter understands where the colors come from. a Master painter know the breed and care of the animal they get their brushes from.

Re:Ohh-Kay (1)

paulatz (744216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586473)

Master painter know the breed and care of the animal they get their brushes from.

Yes, but he can also paint with his bare fingers, if necessary.

Re:Ohh-Kay (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586521)

A good painter understand colors, a great painter understands where the colors come from. a Master painter know the breed and care of the animal they get their brushes from.


That's a GOOD analogy there. In fact, I would venture the observation that it applies
for any skill or trade in question. And I'd be striving to make better "painters" in
any course that involves the use of computers. Far, far too often the coursework in
high schools and colleges leans toward just "prepping for the workplace" and making
cogs out of people instead of teaching them the ability to think- which is really what
education was intended to be, not training, which is what they end up doing all too
often...)

OS is better (2, Interesting)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586299)

I would go with the OpenSource. It is free (mostly as in beer) and there is generally great community support. You could trial it for a year and if it fails then go back to the old software..

The biggest hurdle in open source software imo is getting people out of their comfort zone in order to use it.

In saying that I am slightly bias as I disagree with people using the likes dreamweaver for anything other than RAD. Better to code by hand, you learn more. The number of people I have using dreamweaver/contribute that come to me with problems that they could have solved if they had even a basic understanding of HTML.

A lot of apps have OS counterparts that do the job as well or better.

Even in work I use OOo instead of MS Office while everyone else uses MS office.

principles or programs? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586305)

Is the goal to teach them the principles of the software they'll be using, or is it to teach them how to use a certain program? If it's the first, then either should do the job equally well (assuming they're both capable of exemplifying the principles you intend to teach). If it's the latter, then you should clearly use the software that's already there. The next question is one of support--who will be installing/supporting the software? If it's someone else, have you discussed installing OSS on the machines with them? And are you expecting them to troubleshoot issues for you when something goes wrong? Having run a computer lab, there's nothing worse than someone coming along saying "I want to teach this program" and then constantly coming back to you saying "Figure out these issues for me, because I don't know how to troubleshoot." It's not a problem if you're given a chance to use the software for a while beforehand and catch up on the issues/fixes in various forums. But when it's just thrown in your lap, it can be a royal pain.

Hardware (2, Insightful)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586315)

How old is the hardware? Something to keep in mind is that an older version of Photoshop may run better on older hardware than the latest version of Gimp.

There is not OSS equivalent... (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586317)

to Movie Maker. There is nothing anywhere near that simple to use or basic. The few projects I know of (kdenlive, avidemux) are still overkill by comparison.

Teach the ability to learn (3, Interesting)

ispeters (621097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586325)

I'd hope the class is more about how to use software than it is about how to use this software and, as such, I'd use whichever software you're more comfortable with. If you already have notes and lessons planned around the existing, old software, use that. If you have to make new notes anyway, why not introduce your class to the world of Open Source?

Ian

In short.. (2, Insightful)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586329)

The older software will be your best bet - why? Many places still use older versions of the industry standards. It wasn't until recently that my place of employment upgraded to CS2 on every primary production machine - some machines still had Photoshop 6, and I think we've got one with 5.5 still that some sales reps use (this is at a newspaper). Second, the UI will still be relatively uniform and familiar in subsequent versions.

It sucks, but better to teach them something they are more likely to encounter in some version or another. Don't hesitate to introduce them to open-source alternatives, but keep in mind that they will rarely be used in a professional environment (cue flames here - I'm an open source user myself, but I have yet to encounter any place that uses The GIMP in any sort of professional high volume production)

Teach them how to learn how to use the software. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586337)

If you teach them how to do things without teaching them how any one particular application works then the learning curve won't be nearly as bad, and they'll be far more proficient when they go to a new job with a different peice of software and they can just 'pick it up' since you've taught them how to think more about what they're trying to accomplish. If they really know what they are trying to accomplish, figuring out how to get the tool help them do it is a lot less difficult.

Most people learn how to make a peice of software do a few specific things and then call themselves graphics artists. They usually end up working at McDonalds after they get out of school as well. Since they aren't really capable of being graphics artists, they just know how to use XXX application to do a few things.

Along with this line of thaught, you can use both open source and commercial software to teach them. You can show them exactly how bad a user interface can be by letting them use Gimp, then show them the same bad UI design in commercial software by using MovieMaker.

Jokes aside, if they don't get tied to a specific tool/software package, they will benifit more from your lessons than if all you do is teach Photoshop/DreamWeaver 101.

Industry (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586343)

You should be teaching them what the industry dictates, surely. With the exception of The GIMP, I don't think you've got much choice. If you're teaching them the older versions, it's likely to be more useful to them if they later on get work in the industry that use the newer versions of that software. As opposed to them learning a different GUI, and potentially different software-based concepts.

Not entirely sure this is the best place to be asking, anyway.

You're asking that here? (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586347)

It's obvious. Teach them the open source alternatives. Is your job to teach *interfaces* or *skills*? Teaching the skills required to do a half-decent job in video editing, web-design, and image-editing is a greater problem than how to navigate a particular interface. Teach the kids how to look at what they are designing, how to interpret the results of their actions and how to adjust those actions to get the results they want. *Those* skills will carry them much farther than learning a particular interface.

So, that said, it doesn't really matter which platform you use as much as it matters that it is an available platform that they can easily (and legally?) get their hands on. When I was taking programming classes back in '86-87, one of the most frustrating issues was that while we had Pascal at school (Apple ][e's) we didn't have it at home (mix of C-64's and trash-80's). That meant that whatever we learned in school had to be translated into something else to use outside of school.

hmm... now that I think about it, maybe that was a good thing. Whatever. Anyway, the platform the kids can get their hands on to use outside of school, legally, would be the open source ones. This is based on the assumption that not *all* the kids are in a position to just go out and buy/crack Photoshop...

Pointy haired boss (1)

jiadran (1198763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586359)

What is meant by pointy haired boss? Is this a reference to Dilbert?

Re:Pointy haired boss (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586505)

Perhaps. I personally see it as a reference to the stereotypical management types that have pointy hair and were still breast-feeding when half of the people here were learning C.

Think of it as a mockery on management people, i.e. those who don't really have a clue about the technical side of things, but somehow manage to dictate the technical what decisions are made within an organisation.

teach concepts not software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586369)

I'd vote for teaching the newer software whether it was open source or not.

How to perform a specific function (the menus/keystrokes/whatever) will most certainly change over the years - if you know "what" and to do and "why" you are doing it, then figuring out "how" to do it shouldn't have that steep a learning curve

Personally I'm still waiting on the computer I can give voice commands to...

Dear Choir: (4, Funny)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586371)

Dear Choir:
        I teach a high school theology course. We were scheduled to get new books this year but due to several pointy haired bosses, no books were ordered. The books I have to teach are (god help me) pagan scrolls from the 3rd century BC. The question is: is it better to teach old religions or their open text counterparts (Christianity, Hinduism, etc)? Is the steep learning curve and slightly less uniform world view worth a little damnation to teach them religion founded in the past 5000 years?

Free as in Kool-Aid (1)

tji (74570) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586385)

At least with the Open Source software, you can easily give your students a way to use them outside of class and continue to use and grow their knowledge.

With the commercial software, especially the packages you mentioned, the costs are prohibitive for high school students. So, they would get started in your class, then have no easy way to continue learning or put it to practical use.

I would try to stick with software that has good multi-platform support, including Windows support, so students can easily run it without installing Linux on their parents' computer. Or, if not, work from a Linux LiveCD environment, which the kids can replicate at home.

And, if the open source alternative doesn't measure up, stick with some commercial software and do a mixed class. It doesn't have to be either/or.

Find a Flash replacement first... (2, Insightful)

nowhere.elysium (924845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586391)

Seriously: if you can find a F/OSS package that's analogous to Flash in behaviour and output, then yes, by all means, teach them the F/OSS stuff - they'll learn to think outside the GUI, which will do them no end of good. If, however, you can't find a suitable replacement, then don't. Flash 5 is not even remotely appropriate any more - it bears little to no resemblance to the current versions of Flash. Photoshop 7 is fine, although the layering method has changed a bit: you can now nest them, as well as play about with layer comps, which you can't do in pre-CS versions. Dreamweaver - well, do you really need to ask? As for Movie Maker: you can download a free version of Avid, or try and get hold of Kino or something along those lines. Teaching them Movie Maker will not do anyone any favours.

Some different than others... (1)

EtoilePB (1087031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586413)

Photoshop 7 is still close enough to CS2 and CS3 that honestly, translating from one to the other isn't much problem. Also, although PS7 is old it's still very powerful and very useful. The learning curve fropm PS7 to PS CS3 will take maybe a week for most people to make the transition -- but GIMP and PS CS3 are like two different planets.

You've been given a choice???? (1)

WibbleOnMars (1129233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586433)

They're letting you make the decision? Woah. Most places I can think of would have mandated a set of standard applications. Granted you didn't get the applications you should have got, but you still have the previous standard ones, so I'd be surprised if you weren't required to use them.

However, if you really do have the choice, I would definitely at least *show* the alternate apps to your students. Preferably, teach them how to use both sets of apps, and emphasise how they do things differently -- It's a very powerful learning tool to see how two different apps achieve the same goals; it makes your students think about what the goals are and thus getting a deeper understanding of what the software is actually doing, rather than just learning a single app parrot fashion, where they may learn how to do specific tasks, but never get the ability to imagine what else is possible.

Consider This (5, Insightful)

sherriw (794536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586435)

Since you are talking about highschool and not college, I'd say go with the open source option and touch on the older versions of the commercial software. Here's why...

-If they find that they enjoy what you are teaching, knowing an open source (and FREE) software tool will make it easy for them to continue tinkering with it at home. They can download the same tool they used in the classroom and continue to hone their skills at home if that really is their area of interest/career path. In the end, it's their eye and talent as an artist that will determine if their career at this early stage, learning the software is secondary. Practice is key. Chances are a student can't afford a legal copy of Photoshop for their home computer.

-Odds are that it will be a few years before they get into the working world anyway, so even if the school board gave you the latest versions of the commercial software, chances are that what they end up using in the working world will be several versions in the future anyway.

- Once you've learned one tool, it's usually easy to learn another of the same type. Like learning programming languages. Once you have the basics, the icons for the tools and the menus are trivial.

- Many artists do freelance work when they are first trying to break into the graphic design/art world. Knowing a free tool will keep their costs down.

- It will help support the free/open source software movement, and make them aware of the wide variety of awesome free/open apps available to them.

- Many employers even if they provide a commercial graphics program, will allow you to install and use your own preferred tool if it's free/legal/legit/compatible.

- Giving them an additional taste of the old version commercial software you have will mean they've been exposed to two different tools- an advantage in the long run. Choice is good.

the fundamentals (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586445)

Yes, it is worth it to use open-source alternatives. It's a waste of opportunity when a course that is actually a training course for specific applications is misnamed with a more general term. I remember way back when taking an 'digital composition' university course that was by all rights simply several weeks of Finale! training.

Not only is open source entirely suitable for an academic environment, but any interface shortcomings will allow/force you to focus on the actual fundamentals of, as you put it, multimedia. (I didn't see any audio app mentioned.)

Which course would be more useful in the long run: one that focuses on the novelty features and interface of the latest commercial applications, or one that focuses on the design process in general and treats the apps as the tools they are rather than main focus of the course? Learning how to learn unfamiliar applications is far more valuable than developing overly-specific fluency with a few of the latest.

Stick with Photoshop (2, Interesting)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586451)

I don't know about the others, but if you want them to actually be able to easily apply what they're learning outside of the classroom (possibly even in jobs), an older Photoshop is better than GIMP. GIMP just isn't Photoshop, and Photoshop is the standard.

And yes, they might actually use these skills. I took a desktop publishing class for fun in high school and learned to use PageMaker. I then got a job during college that involved creating publicity materials for an academic department (flyers for events, etc) in PageMaker, and from there got a job doing layout at a local paper also in PM. And no, I'm not a graphic design major or anything - I was a cognitive science major and am now in a PhD program, but layout is a hobby of mine (and possibly the only visual art-type-thing at which I have any skill). And that newspaper job paid much better than anything else I could have gotten at the time.

If some of the other open-source programs are more similar to the standard clossed-source ones, they might be valid alternatives. Or you could let them explore with both programs (for example, more advanced students might be able to do projects comparing the capabilities of two different programs).

Stop encouraging piracy. (4, Insightful)

Average (648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586457)

Yes, the percentage of your class that will be in the industry will be using Photoshop and Dreamweaver (although those programs will be totally different in 5 years).

But, I think you're better off encouraging students' curiosity for use *at home*. Which would you rather hire to use Photoshop, someone who's spent 100 hours using Photoshop 5 in a classroom a several years ago, or someone who's played with everything in GIMP for 600+ hours, built some webpages, entered some silly photo-editing contests, etc, and is still using it?

In reality, of course, if you subtly imply that Photoshop is the only way to go, they'll just pirate it to work at home. This is pernicious. I'm betting 'moral education' is a part of your school's mission statement. Live it.

Teach students to use Open Source software. Hand out discs with the PortableApps files. Accept ODF/RTF/TXT/PDF files as well as DOC.

Free Software: Yes. Also, yes. (2, Insightful)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586479)

From a short-term practical standpoint, i don't see a problem with teaching e.g. GIMP instead of an old Photoshop version - as long as you don't require features the free alternative doesn't have (GIMP has no HDR) you should be fine. Additionally, kids can also use the software at home and when they have completed the course, which is a big benefit - I am required to learn Maple [1] and didn't pay up for the draconian license which would require me to wipe it off disk as soon as i am no longer an university student. Also, old Photoshop knowledge most certainly won't help them in the job.

Ethically speaking, as a good teacher you should absolutely abstain from proprietary concepts: Your obligation is to teach them something useful for society, not to teach them something useful for Adobe. Proprietary software essentially says that research into the functions and cooperation between people is forbidden, while free software actually encourages sharing knowledge and cooperation for a mutual goal. Read Stallman's essay on the topic [2] and decide what would be the ethically correct alternative.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maple_(software) [wikipedia.org]
[2] http://www.linux.com/articles/32587 [linux.com]

Best value for the students (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586503)

I think you need to try and get the best value for the students. Even old software can be of use, if it allows them to learn the underlying usage concepts, or to learn the basic functionality. If in the new version these concepts are no longer in use, and if the basic functions are mainly accessed differently, then you are not providing much value anymore. In these cases you'd definately provide more value if you use newer OSS applications. If the OSS applications share the same underlying usage concepts, and/or allows you to access basic functionality in the same way, then it could also be worth using them. In case the comparison is even (OSS and old version of commerical software are similarly close to the new version) there could still be a case to be made for OSS: your students can easily get hold of the software and use it at home.

However you should not neglect the factor that your students may need the buzzword factor - it may be more helpful to them to have the right tools listed in their resume. Of course if the commercial application is not suitable for practical use anyway (feature set too small, unstable ....), then the OSS version would win out again. The priority must be your students needs. I think you need to evaluate all factors carefully for each application.

Teach the Eclipse (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586509)

Screw dreamweaver! get them off that piece of crap as soon as possible. If they are going to be doing any kind of development, they should be learning how to do it properly in a real IDE. Sure Dreamweaver has come a long way but why would you pay money for something that you can get for free that is used by more developers than dreamweaver.

Debatable (2, Interesting)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586531)

This is such a debatable question, especially on Slashdot.

I do web development/design for a living, so I will try to provide a little bit of insight.

I use Photoshop CS2 for the majority of my work... the problem being that I use Gentoo Linux. I have a WinXP install running under VMware just to use it... this is mostly because I learned how to use Photoshop when I was young, and I just stuck. I use gimp for the quick edits, and it does this VERY well. Examples: Crop/Resize, Add Text, maybe add a drop shadow, etc.

When it comes to Dreamweaver, I've always hated it. It was slow, and a painful mess last I used it (version 4 or 5). I'm a programmer, so I suppose I am a little biased, but I code all of my X/HTML by hand. Teach your students how to code HTML by hand. Students tend to use Dreamweaver as a crutch. They learn how to point and click with it, but never really understand what exactly they are doing. When I was in high school, I used to attend a national competition called "Skills Canada". Every year in the national round, there was always at least ONE person who freaked out and dropped out of the competition because Dreamweaver was not set up the same as they used to have it back home. Now, I, and others, used notepad or notepad++, etc (Ya-ya! I know Dreamweaver has an IDE built in -- I still don't like it). We had no issues because we saw, and built the code whereas the competitor who dropped out did so because they were dependent on the visual interface ("It's different, what the hell do I do!?").

When it comes to Flash, there isn't much of an alternative... Flash is what you need. I personally own Flash MX2004 and I like it fine. I'm planning an upgrade to the next release (CS4 I think it will be?) or if there is a nice update to the latest version (like a service pack)... I've heard it has some issues (mostly interface stuff).

As for my recommendation, someone above mentioned for you to teach until you receive the required materials.

Whatever Will Work (1)

cled2k (1198765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586539)

As a web designer I still use Photoshop 7 and Dreamweaver 2000 and I don't think anyone would know unless I told them. Why would anyone else care what software I use anyway it's all about the results I can create not about the tools I use. By the time these children grow up there will be the same amount of colors in the world, Photowizzbang Version 17 will still use a mouse or a pen tablet for input and Dreamwizzle 2020 will still have a text based source editor.

Your Software Suite is Fine. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586541)

From the suite that you gave, with the exception of certain new features, the core of those programs have not changed much over the years.

Here's the thing that I noticed about most good software titles: if their original premise is held and the public accepts it, the basics usually don't change. The core of Microsoft Windows, for example, has not changed since its inception (it's quality is debatable, however). Neither has open-source software like emacs, grep, etc.

The tools that you are teaching them are the ones that they are most likely to use in the field. If you teach them alternatives, while they might have knowledge of how to use GIMP, for instance, that's not going to get them really far in resume comparison as supposed to if they knew Photoshop, even if it's version 7...

Whichever illustrates the principles. (1)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586557)

Since this is a high-school class, I assume you're not expecting them to leave with something they can put on their resume. By the time they're in the job market, the software will have shifted yet again. Therefore, anything that illustrates the basic principles will do.

That said, it looks like you have a choice between Gimp and Photoshop, no real alternative to Flash 5, possible alternatives to MovieMaker, and as for Dreamweaver, the only advantage it has over hand-coded HTML + CSS is in saved time, and even then, only for people who already know HTML + CSS and can fix any problems that Dreamweaver creates.

product specific? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21586573)

Teach them the concepts, not the specific software itself. You're not an adobe or macromedia trainer, why pigeon-hole their education to a particular vendor's products? The software industry is always changing but many of the concepts in the software stay the same..

Teach methods and learning, not applications. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586629)

Teach methods, not applications. To use the standard example as illustration: there is no point teaching MS Office because "everyone uses office". Everyone does not uses office, especially the version you will be teaching. By the time your students leave, go through university and get in to the real world, everyone will be using a much newer and probably quite different version of MS office.

To generalize, software is becoming modified and updated continuously, and will throughout these students lives. In other words, if you teach them only a particular software package, and not the basic methods and how to learn then the teaching will not be useful for more than a few years. By way of illustration, I remember my old school had RM Nimbus machines with DOS 3.x and Word version something rather small. That was 15 years ago.

In conclusion, it probably doesn't matter if you use OSS packages (The difference between Open Ofice and MS Office today is tiny compared to the difference between them now and $FOOOFFICE in 15 years). It's probably best if you have both available and make your students learn and use more than one package for the same kinds of jobs.

PS I know it's not about Office in particular, but that sprang quickest to mind as an example.

gimp & cmyk = not possible (1)

toxygen01 (901511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586637)

I would to point out that GIMP doesn't have cmyk support, so it's pure insanity to teach students program for graphics which has no use in real print world. If I were you, I would stick with Photoshop 7 (or 6). Except few features (multi-layer selection, smart objects, healing tool) I do not miss anything in PS7 or 6. They are much faster and not bloated with things you will probably never use. Remember, newer is not always better. If you have seen movie Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, it was done using maya 1 beta through maya 2.5. http://www.lava.net/~shiro/Private/essay/gdc2002.html [lava.net] . And so far, I have seen only one movie which surpassed it in quality (another Final Fantasy movie). And today we have version 8.5 and it is not much mirrored in quality of CGI movies made... and that's 6 years from 2001 when FF:SW was made. I do not know about other open-source software you mentioned(Komposer) but my guess would be that they are no match for commercial software (but if you mention Movie Maker, maybe they are :). Still, who would cut video in movie maker... my last sentence: if people could live with old software, so can you...

Not really a difficult decision (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586643)

You didn't mention it, but, for example, concerning Corel Draw, the older version are the best.

Everybody can pick like, Version 4 or 7 and do a heck of a job with it. Today, it is most fluff, bloat, etc.

Stick with the older versions, which doesn't mean you shouldn't use any OSS.

A reason for OSS (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586653)

If you teach them to use Gimp, then they can legally and without cost do their assignments at home. They could also use the skills you've taught in order to, from home, make nice art for friends' web pages, etc.

If you only teach them PhotoShop, they may be forced to (a) use a pirated copy at home or (b) not use their home computer at all.

Easy decision (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586681)

The old stuff, every time. My reasoning, even though it is old, it is by the same companies, so presumably the newer software is a logical progression on their features, so even though it'll be different, when the people you are teaching encounter the new stuff they'll have a basic understanding of the purpose of the programming, how the particular coders work and the step up shouldn't be too hard. Think of it like this, it's easier to learn italian when you know latin than when you know English.
However you do have to decide whether you value educating people to use software that you think is ethically better over the small difference in the relevance. I personally would find myself as a teaching deciding to use the old software as that's what I think will give the best education, but each to their own.

If it's been said once... (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586693)

...its been said a million times. Teach concepts and the ability to extend knowledge of those concepts into the real world. Don't teach specific applications.

Face it, when the slashdot faithful were in school we were taught on a different set of software than what we used at uni, and later in the workplace. Software changes on a year-by-year, month-by-month basis. Rote memorisation can get you far in, say, simple mathematics, but it doesn't extend so well into areas that change rapidly. Heck, I was brought up on ancient Acorn Archimedes machines that had approximately 0% penetration in the workplace but our teacher was bright enough to teach us what a windowing system was, what a hard drive did, how networks worked, how databases worked... no specific implementations, just concepts.

Current teaching, as I've experienced it, has fostered a generation of computer users who are stupefied if they come into contact with an application they've never used before. I've even seen people confused by using the same app in a slightly differnt setup (e.g. Office with customised toolbars). Such a mindset has further fostered the idea, IMHO, that people can't cope with being given a choice in using the best tool for the job since they'll be incapable of using anything that differs from the norm.

In answer to your query, if I was given the freedom to I'd like to show children an example of each popular variant of each subset of programs - here's one word processor, here's another one that does this thingy differently, here's a typesetting program that comes from an entirely different direction - all the while stressing the functionality they have in common and what differentiates them from one another. The same methodology can be extended to almost any app that has more than one example out in the wild databases, image manipulation programs, animation software, video software... here's a linear video editor, here's a non-linear video editor... pupils will learn how to spot what bits of apps do from being exposed to that functionality in other programs.

Disclaimer: I am opinionated and have never worked in a school environment. Can you tell? ;)

Old Commercial Software (1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586695)

Definitely better off teaching them old commercial software. Why?

Because no one is going to get a job for knowing Gimp of Komposer. However they could actually get a job for knowing Flash 5 and Photoshop 7.

Use the Open Source, Luke! (1)

tsandholm (266502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586731)

As education departments tend to operate on a shoe-string budget, many will gladly accept discounted commercial products from vendors. The vendors do this, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but as a marketing ploy to reel-in future customers. Why do you think Apple gave away all those computers to the grade schools? Why does Sun deeply discount their computers to colleges? My 16 year old daughter was bashing me over not having a windows system at home with a graphics package. I handed her a laptop with SuSE and Gimp installed. Within a couple of days she was creating wonderful drawings. Sure, it took her some time to learn. But now she loves it! All of the vendors offer professional training on their products. Lets keep public education in the open source category, and when the kiddies grow up & jump into the workplace, then their company can send them to the product specific courses.

It doesn't really matter (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586737)

By the time your students reach the workforce, the packages will have gone through many revisions and what you're teaching them will have little bearing on what they'll have to know.

I'd say use both - the versions you have as well as open source. And tell the PHBs that since what you're teaching them will be sorely out of date by the time they're in a position to use these skills, not to waste money on commercial software again.

If you were a college teacher you wouldn't have these problems.

-mcgrew

Have you used Gimp? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21586769)

Because if you have I don't think you would be asking. Gimp has a horrible user interface. It has an OK feature set but the user Interface makes it almost completely useless unless you HAVE to use it. I don't know about the other OS equivalents. Don't teach GIMP though.
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