Re: The Sorry State Of IT Education
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4/22/2014 | 11:45:33 AM
Re: The Sorry State Of IT Education
In a recent commentary found in InformationWeek, Lawrence Garvin observed that IT Education was in a "sorry state." This commentary generated considerable comments from the community.

The premise of the commentary was stated as follows: "As our traditional corporate silos continue to collapse, IT professionals will need to take on more cross-discipline responsibilities to advance their careers."

Garvin points out that in the history of computing and information technology in the mainframe era the vendors provided much of the training to perform "the necessary business functions" of IT, while the employers trained the employee on the "business of their employer." He suggests that there is a dearth of talent to meet the needs of the new environments. He believes that business skills and critical thinking are missing in the dominant training approaches which are exemplified by the high school students who learn on their own or go to a trade school. The results is that the "industry is now flooded with hundreds of thousands of IT professionals fully capable of performing procedures they've been taught, but incapable of thinking through a problem."

The suggested answer to the dilemma is as follows:
  • Encourage professionalism which must include continuing education for the profession,
  • Allow employees to invest time in learning, and
  • Provide the opportunity and resources to develop critical thinking skills.

As a former IT executive and now as the director of a professional graduate degree program, I concur with the observations and conclusions. I believe the program that I direct is one of several that take the business of educating future IT leaders seriously. We offer foundational knowledge developed through the application of critical thinking to problems we present through coursework.

We encourage cross-disciplinary thinking when we teach subjects such as Project Management, Governance, Service Management, and Enterprise Architecture. One cannot be successful in these courses, and one cannot be a successful IT leader, without thinking about the business management and information technology aspects of these subjects. We need professional degree programs to provide the business and technical background required to succeed.

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