Education for IT

For a while now I am thinking and re-thinking the misalignment of the computer science education system and the real world needs of IT industry.  And it’s not only me, and it’s not only in Cyprus.  I’ve seen it myself of course, but also heard it from many people around the world.  There are not enough candidates to hire, and the quality of the candidates even coming out of the top schools is very poor.  It’s not rare to see a candidate who has no idea what a loop is, yet holding not one, but two bachelor degrees from both UK and American universities.

While I understand that there are differences from school to school and university to university, and that Computer Science is an academic discipline, not a practical tutorial for the programmer wannabes, I still think that there is something wrong with how computers are taught today.  And there is more than one problem.  Here are just some of those that I could think of:

  • There should be a balance between theory and practice.  Computer Science graduates should have some practical value, not only theoretical.  They should be able to assemble and disassemble a computer, configure a simple network, and write a simple program, at a very least.  Without that all their theoretical baggage is useless.  Or so I think.
  • Technology in general and computers in particular have evolved a lot in the last few years.  And they continue to evolve.  Academia is too slow to react to the modern world and something has to be done about that.
  • Academia is too slow in adoption of the new teaching methods.  These days pretty much everyone has a computer and access to the Internet.  Anyone can use Google, Wikipedia, and other excellent tools.   But those excellent are only a the beginning of the integration with the official teaching process, even though some of them have been here for years.
  • The world itself is changing.  Younger generations differ from the older ones quite a bit, especially in their attention spans, the breadth of attention, and requirements for feedback.   They have a bigger need to see immediate effect than we had, and we needed that more than our parents needed.  The world is getting faster, snappier.  And I don’t see a reflection of that in academia.

So we with all those things I was thinking what can be done and how.   I don’t have a solution for any of these problems of course.  I don’t know what will work and what won’t.  But one thing that I was fascinated to see, for example, was this interview with Sridhar Vembu of Zoho.  These guys in India see the problem and even think that it’s magnified for them with an even faster rate of development and with lower access of the general public to the good education.  And it is absolutely amazing how they went about solving the problem, experimenting, and also the results that they have achieved!

Via O’Reilly Radar.