Computer Skills keeping pace in post secondary education?

Computer Skills keeping pace in post secondary education?

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I got my lovely email reminder that my mailbox was rapidly approaching my max. When I get one of these, it means I go through my folders, delete stuff or start my auto-archiving feature. The main culprit is usually the 75 or so internal mailing lists I belong to that are my "secondary" reading for when I schedule time or happen to "find" time while waiting for a meeting or sitting in the airport. My inbox is usually well managed this year with SUB 20 items, due to my new years resolution of staying on top of it and responding to mail. I quickly scanned it while having a mouthful of coffee and noticed a press release from a friend of mine (Daniel Shapiro) who looks after Academic audiences for Microsoft Canada.

The press release was about a survey conducted by Youthography with students age 17 to 20. It reads as if the participants were not directly enrolled in an IT Program at the time of the survey. The results found that 74 per cent of students in Canada feel a positive relationship with technology and student respondents were nearly unanimous about the value of a career in technology – over 91 per cent agree that a career in technology would be either somewhat or very rewarding. However, less than half of the student respondents felt their school is adequately preparing them for an IT-focused career, and only 53 per cent of students say their teachers inspire them to be innovative and creative. Even fewer (28 per cent) responded that their school keeps them informed about advances in technology.

From reading the press release about the survey - it's respondents were students who are not currently enrolled in IT focused programs. But when they take the plunge to pursue a study path in Technology, do you go University or College? Which one do you choose? Who's more up to date? Do you go for development or towards infrastructure? How do you know which institution will have current and future looking programs to equip you to work and lead the industry?

If you remember, I blogged about going to speak at Algonquin College earlier this week and let me tell you - there are some extremely bright and passionate people that attended. How I got to the point of talking with the students and faculty is an example of leveraging connections from broad events and how colleges (like Algonquin) can offer significant value by going beyond just curriculum. 

The session  came about because a student (Matthew Florczyk) attended an event by a colleague of mine and decided to email the team.  This started the ball rolling. I ended up being connected with Claude Brulé - Academic chair of Computer Studies and got a date and some content suggestions organized. I took it one step further and asked for some advance questions here on the blog and trust me - they were all asked during the Q & A session. These students and profs don't pull their punches - they want (and got) answers.

I had a great time and it was AWESOME that Algonquin would put forth the effort for getting something like this visit off the ground. I was engaging with both students and faculty, answering questions on the usual topics on features and benefits - but then getting down and dirty about Windows Genuine Advantage, Windows Activation and Digital Rights Management. I look forward to going out again - if Algonquin will have me.

Matthew came up afterwards and asked for the links I provided for additional resources. There were really only a couple (besides this blog) that are relevant.

TechNet Vista page for IT Professionals
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/windowsvista

Subscribe to Canadian TechNet Flash (the BEST way to stay connected about LOCAL CANADIAN content taking place across Canada)
http://www.microsoft.com/canada/technet/tnflash

The next upcoming tour - "Future of your Server Room"
http://blogs.technet.com/canitpro/archive/2007/03/30/what-is-the-future-of-your-server-room.aspx

What do you guys think? How did (or will) you pick your post secondary institutions?

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  • Should Universities and Colleges have the most current technology in their curriculum?  What is the purpose of university or college?  I believe that you go to university to learn how to learn and think.  College is a shorter program but should provide you with this opportunity too.  If you were to have more of the leading edge technologies would you miss the foundation of how these technologies were built?

    In the IT industry there are people who are awesome at what they do but cannot think outside the box.  There are people who learn the leading edge technologies in a six month program but do not know how to troubleshoot a problem.  I think that university and college should be looked upon as an opportunity to learn the foundation of a study and then be guided through a process where you can learn how to create.

    There are many people in the IT industry today whose post secondary education is not in the IT technologies.  However, through either the courses they did take or real life experiences they have learned how to study a technology and then learn the current versions.  

    The IT industry changes so fast that we must always be willing to learn the next technology and for the most part we must do this on our own time.  I have recently taken a couple years off for family.  People have commented that I may have to do my certifications over again.  However, I do not see this as a big deal since I would keep my certifications up-to-date if I was working.  The IT industry is a challenging and rewarding environment.  But the learning never stops if you want to be on the leading edge.

    Cynthia Bird