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The Sorry State Of IT Education
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tcritchley07
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tcritchley07,
User Rank: Strategist
4/25/2014 | 9:33:22 AM
Re: GREAT ARTICLE - YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD
That's what I meant in my comment below this one about 'prescriptive' teaching/learning.

Terry Critchley
Keith Fowlkes
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Keith Fowlkes,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2014 | 9:14:01 AM
GREAT ARTICLE - YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD
Larry, 

Thanks for your post and I believe you are RIGHT ON THE MONEY with this one.

My experience as a CIO and as a college faculty member has shown you to be so correct.  In the classroom, my students have had a very difficult time with being given abstract assignments (assignments that aren't laid out step by step for them) and pulling the pieces together to find a good solution or meeting a goal.  Occasionally, I've heard "why don't you just tell me the steps and I'll do them" in class and that is just not how real life works.

As a CIO, I've hired many, many people in my career and hired many excellent IT professionals.  Possibly one of the best that i've known was a woman with a philosophy degree.  She was comfortable with the abstract, creative and tenacious in finding solutions from the chaos.

I see so many students, politicians and parents say "just get my son or daughter a job after college" but it is so much more than that.  It is about crucial foundational skills for thinking critically and abstractly and coupling these skills with business and technical knowledge that moves the person from being a "techie" to being a contributing and fully functional team member with more skills than just programming a router or installing a motherboard.  Those fundamental skills of writing, math, philosophy, biology and more prepare students for a much larger "life of the mind" and open opportunities to them that go far beyond the technical.

Thanks for your post!  GREAT article.

Keith Fowlkes
CIO - Centre College
tcritchley07
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tcritchley07,
User Rank: Strategist
4/25/2014 | 8:58:09 AM
Sorry State of IT - Lawrence Garvin
Just to start, I don't think the S/38 existed when Lawrence Garvin tested his RPG program in 1974. That's by the by. Not sure what country we are talking about here but the UK new school syllabus is totally prescriptive and, in my view, unsuitable for moving into 'coal face' IT. Look for it on Google.

Terry Critchley
KevinC353
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KevinC353,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2014 | 1:16:09 PM
Re: It's all in the liberal arts!
There are many degree programs that teach the scientific method. Which goes a long way towards the common sense training, if you actually believe one can 'learn' common sense. I don't have an issue with Liberal Arts degrees. I think they have a purpose. I do however believe that most should not be 4 year programs. In reality, most degree programs outside of highly technical or role specific ones(e.g. medical, engineering, law), should be 2 years of study. Gather the knowledge you need, then transition into the working world. The majority of people don't actually get jobs in the field that they studied. For the majority of roles, it would be far better to experience life on the job and continue to take the occasional class online to supplement your knowledge.
joshuapk
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joshuapk,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2014 | 9:16:26 PM
It's all in the liberal arts!
What's funny about this is the fact that degree progams that would instill critical thinking skills are shunned, with quips like "Would you like fries with that?"  I'm talking about liberal arts degrees.

I went to a liberal arts school after I had started my IT career as a software developer.  Because I already had the needed skills, I decided to get a degree I wanted.  This turned out to be a BA in Philosophy.  I had a number of excellent professors who stretched my mind and taught me how to think through problems, see abstractions, and otherwise examine subjects critically.  Most of these skills were directly applicable to my professional work.  But they were also applicable to a wide variety of life circumstances - my degree has helped me a great deal.

My wife went to Johns Hopkins University as well as Ohio State.  She talks about their differences.  Take Chemistry, for example.  At Johns Hopkins, you might get a lab assignment:  "Given chemical compounds X, Y, and Z, make the new compound A.  You have three hours.  Go!"  You had to be able to know how to synthesize that compound A, or know how to find out.  At OSU, however, the assignments were more like, "Given chemical compounds X, Y, and Z, follow the formula I am giving you to make the new compound A.  You have three hours.  Go!"  No thinking involved in this assignment - just do the steps the professor has outlined for you.

This is why the RHCSA and RHCE certifications are so valuable.  Microsoft (and other certs) say, "Answer these hundred questions correctly and you get a cert!"  RedHat says, "Here is a real broken system with a real OS installation.  Fix it any way you know how, and then install these X number of services.  You have X hours.  Go!"  If your system doesn't come out as they specify, you don't get the cert.  You cannot obtain a RHCE without being able to think through problems.
johnathanbick
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johnathanbick,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2014 | 1:16:05 PM
Sorry State of IT
IT is in a sorry state today especially those involved in managememt. The management wants to increase the number of h1-bs to 300,000  a year. 5000 is the number of new houses built in the bay area each year. Around 200000 is how many bay area residents will be displaced as a result.

This example shows the short term thinking that prevades the IT industry Perhaps management should be made to take some basic math courses.
KevinC353
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KevinC353,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2014 | 12:57:19 PM
Re: This seems the complete opposite of reality
@KoletteS710 The Youtube link is https://www.youtube.com/user/ShrikeCast. He also has a website associated with the series: https://gumroad.com/l/ccnatraining.

 

To follow up on some other great comments I read..

I think that IT is a great field for those that really enjoy learning. Unlike many careers where you may learn most of your skill sets early on, those in IT need to continue the learning process for the rest of their career. If you realize that at the start of the career choice, I think you will be fine.

Despite the current short term profit over long term goal mentality in business, we all must be aware of the cyclical nature of the business world and the IT sector. IT took a big hit due to the private sector not seeing employees as a part of the business and more of a capital expense. Yet that happened all across the economy. When we start to realize that those same "capital expenses" are our consumer base, things will start to flow in the opposite direction. It's a cycle much like the IT role in corporate America in general. We had the day of the IT Rockstar, which turned to IT Specialists, we will most likely return to the IT rockstar in a couple years until new ground breaking tech changes the game again. 

I also don't have a huge problem with the Visa IT wave. Some that I've met have been fantastic individuals that I respect greatly, but most aren't as flexible in other areas of business. Being able to see the endgame and anticipate how the end user's worklife will be affected by changes you make is an important part of being an IT professional. If you cannot empathize and put yourself in their shoes now and again, you are thinking short term. 

 
tomskaczmarek
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tomskaczmarek,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2014 | 12:34:49 PM
Re: Forcing education

 

In our time of specialization, obtaining and maintaining an employable skill set is a challenge. Being shown the door can be devastating because HR departments are particularly clueless about the requirement for cross-functional knowledge, the kind that Garvin was suggesting is important in his commentary.  

 

DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2014 | 12:25:35 PM
Re: Forcing education
It is always a business decision.  Nothing is ever done for "IT".  As IT is a means to an end supporting business.  You can still use a type writer to create a letter but the business has determined its more efficient to use a word processor.  You can still use a word processor to create a letter but the business has determined its more efficient to use a desktop computer.  You can use a desktop computer to create a letter but the business has determined its more efficient to use a tablet with a cloud service.  As business technology advances so does the cycle of implementation and replacement.  When companies went from type writers to word processors they didn't get rid of all the secreataries that didn't know how to use a word processor and again when desktop computers replaced word processors.  But in IT, Mainframe people were replaced with UNIX people and then UNIX people replaced with Windows Server people.  Change the business techology the business users stay with re-education while the IT support people get replaced. It's to bad the IT people are not upgraded the same as the technology.  

 
tomskaczmarek
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tomskaczmarek,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2014 | 12:21:08 PM
Re: Forcing education
@DDURBIN1 Precisely. IT is there to serve the business in cases where IT is not the business.

Your term "business technology" is interesting. Many technologies impact business, some more than others. Can a business invest in all of them?

The mobile app that you mention is also interesting. How deep into the technology of mobility ought the company that is deploying the app go? What aspects of the mobile app should the company care about? Who in the company needs to know what about the technology to make it profitable for the business?  What are the long term implications of limitations on knowledge about mobile apps and devices?
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