Do we really need classes on Vista?

I just got a new catalog today from Thomson Course Technology. These folks publish countless textbooks and supplemental materials for computer and technology education courses.

I just got a new catalog today from Thomson Course Technology. These folks publish countless textbooks and supplemental materials for computer and technology education courses. Many of the books (as with most textbook publishers) are quite good and I've had good luck with books on general IT, web design, and productivity software. Even some of their Office-specific books were fairly solid in the way they taught desktop publishing and integration of productivity tools.

This latest catalog, though, featured an entire section of books on Windows Vista. Seriously? I could have seen books on Windows 95 or Windows 98 a decade ago when all of Western civilization wasn't completely familiar with the Windows way of doing things. But now, I couldn't even imagine teaching an entire course on Microsoft's latest and greatest. Not because I think Windows is irrelevant or because I'm such a Linux fanboy that I believe we should be teaching all open source all the time, but because anyone born in the last 15-20 years can navigate a GUI in their sleep.

I wouldn't teach a course in Ubuntu either, or Redhat, or BSD. I'd certainly include a comparison of operating systems, file systems, etc., in a general computing course and I'd gladly have my students learn to install and maintain a few different operating systems (open source or otherwise). One of the best exercises I ever did with a class was have them migrate an entire lab from Windows to Linux. The next semester, the next group of students migrated us back to Windows. Now that was useful.

But classes on Windows Vista? As if it is some truly revolutionary set of alien concepts for the average high schooler. Here's a selection of the topics these books claim to cover:

  • How to manage files and folders in Vista
  • How to personalize the Windows Vista environment
  • Working with the Internet in Windows Vista
  • Expanded coverage of Instant Messaging and other communications software
  • Working with Windows Media

Boy, I hope the students can follow along with how to IM under Vista.

Any chance we could devote our class time to systems design? Programming? Networking? Security? Maintenance and troubleshooting? You know, the stuff they don't know how to do? They'll figure out Vista in 15 minutes after they open up their new computer this weekend.

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