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Re: [school-discuss] MySQL in classroom

On Saturday 21 August 2004 11:16 pm, troy@banther-trx.homeunix.com wrote:

> I would love to get more into SQL but am limited on funds.
> It would great if I could obtain more information on how SQL is being
> placed into production on school campuses.


There are several good open source SQL databases running around.  Personally, 
at Concordia University Wisconsin, I have installed and teach a database 
class with MySQL.  As with many products which have evolved over the years, 
you have the interpretation of a standard, the standard, and programs that 
are close to the standard.  MySQL seems close to the ANSI standard SQL, or at 
least close enough that my students have gone from MySQL to Oracle and other 
managers without a problem.

I cut my database teeth working with dBASE II on an AT&T 3B2/300, and later 
converted the application to FoxBASE.  My first major project was to track 
orders and sales for a corporate product center.  This included an X.12 
Electronic Data Interchange implementation.  Fairly heady stuff for 1985.  My 
first exposure to SQL was Informix 4GL for Unix.

I've found that MySQL and Perl make a good combination for quick applications 
and for teaching database fundamentals.  As teachers, we should be teaching 
the concepts and fundamentals, encouraging the students to explore the 
documentation for the more advanced features of a language.  If they 
understand the 3rd Normal Form or Bryce-Codd Normal Form of a database 
design, if they can join tables, if they can optimize queries, and if they 
can use the documentation which comes with the DBMS, I believe they have 
learned what they need to know.

With some work, students could even learn this using (perish the thought!) 

I also with the observation that we who advocate open source are often guilty 
of shooting ourselves in the foot.  We get so tied up in the movement for 
quality, available software that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  In the 
end, the DBMS, the window manager, the OS which does the job at hand is 
probably the best choice.  Hence, I don't care if a student uses Gnome or 
KDE, Postgress or MySQL, groff or LaTeX, as long as they understand the 
underlying concepts and can produce a final product.