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  • #2272956

    What Should I Teach?


    by itinstructor ·

    What is the most important soft skill and technical skill for IT professionals to have? I teach at a small community college and this info help me prepare classes in the future?

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  • Author
    • #3299246

      Soft and Technical Skills

      by maxwell edison ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft Skill – Listen to enhance understanding.

      Technical Skill – Ability to think and reason logically.

      • #3301687


        by lddhwaithe ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        one should be flexible able to except new concepts and ideas. dont dismiss any opportunity to refelect on new technology concepts.

        • #3301658

          don’t think of yourself as an “expert”

          by pedwards17 ·

          In reply to flexibility

          IMHO, the most important thing to keep in mind in the IT field is that there’s ALWAYS something new to learn. No one knows everything, so keep from acting like you have all of the answers. Even among the “experts”, there are differences of opinion.

        • #3324345

          Be Current

          by agbons ·

          In reply to don’t think of yourself as an “expert”

          New Technologies are arriving everyday in the IT world. Keep abreast with with the hot spots and keep moving. This is what is relevant! Don’t forget everything started from 0 and 1 now we are talking OOP.
          Have a nice day.
          Agbons David.

        • #3187553

          Teach the Language

          by n_jayper6 ·

          In reply to don’t think of yourself as an “expert”

          I think the language is most important part in which IT field is positioned, hence being yourself well equipped in popular language can really help one to grow and suceed…

        • #3301441


          by tjd ·

          In reply to flexibility

          particular for those on the helpdesk and absolutely for any providing phone support.
          Nothing hurts some much as explaining where the “any key” is for the 100th time or explaining for to the 30th person in a week that the reason they can’t acces the network printer is that their password is expired and they need to change it, then explaining why passwords expire when they complain.
          “Yes, I set that policy. No, I won’t give you a permanent password. And by the way, your password for the ERP system is not synchronized with your network password, so use the old password when logging in there. If you want them to be the same you’ll need to change that one also.”

      • #3301637

        Business Mind and documentation

        by orjan ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        Teach them to focus on the business side of IT. Teach them some basic economic skills and how to focus on the business benefits on the IT environment and how to calculate the cost of a break down. Teach them how to change an environment and test new, better whatever in a safe, minimum impact way. Teach them what their responsibility is and how mistakes can affect their company. Teach how to write and implement SLA in a meaningful way for different kind of organisations and how to stick to them. Teach them also the importance of documentation and how you should focus on the information needed, not the information available.

        Technical stuff? Really doesn?t matter.

        • #3301493

          IMHO, you’re wrong (sort of).

          by kaceyr ·

          In reply to Business Mind and documentation

          The technical stuff matters. A lot. Without it, IT doesn’t work.

          Everything else that you point out is also very important, but you need to understand that not all technical folks are *ever* going to care about it. The elements that you’ve outlined are more for business folks, not technical folks.

          I believe that any IT student would be better served carrying a business minor along with their IT major. That way they’ll be taught the right stuff in the right context, and (if they’re any good) they’ll be able to see the crossovers.

        • #3346623

          i agree on importance of documentation

          by eddie_is_okay ·

          In reply to IMHO, you’re wrong (sort of).

          otherwise you keep re-inventing the wheel. usually the guy that did the setup first time around isn’t there to show you what he did and how he did it.

        • #3346364


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to i agree on importance of documentation

          Writing / designing something someone else can read. It’s amazing how many times the basic concept of communication gets dropped as soon as people(me included once upon a time) go into developer mode.

          No one ever taught me this, I learnt wondering what idiot wrote this and then finding my name and a date from 6 months ago in the version header.

          If you are not writing but configuring, documentation is not something you do if there’s any budget left. In the real world if it isn’t documented then it has n’t been done until someone checks that it has (again).

        • #3301492

          Couldn’t Agree More!!

          by timeacct ·

          In reply to Business Mind and documentation


          You are right on target. Who cares about technnology for technology’s sake. Does it solve a business problem.

          If you learn to take to the people who control the money – then you will never worry about outsourcing!


        • #3301439

          Quality Quality Quality

          by bill.affeldt ·

          In reply to Business Mind and documentation

          As a young pup in It as a critical systems programmer and support person, a wise old sage taught me to never be woken up 2 nights for the same problem.

          Most of the IT people I know are great a fixing things that are broken but lack the skills to perform root cause analysis, and then lack the time and desire to go fix the root problems.

          As a lot of us know, defects propogated through the development process get exponentially more expensive to fix with each phase it passes through.

          Teach the new budding IT professionals to look forward and to look backwards. When fixing a problem …. make sure you fix the problem not the symptom. When creating new ‘stuff’ make it so it is easily understood and maintained.

          Also I would reccomend W. Edwards Deming as required reading. (at least go over the red beads experiment with them — espicially if they aspire to manangement)

        • #3344465

          Part of Quality is debugging skills

          by djarn ·

          In reply to Quality Quality Quality

          An item that has bothered me with new recruits from college is their lack of ability to debug software. In the classroom, software development is not exercised the same way it is in “production.” When subtle interaction between modules show up in production, the new recruite will often look at his modules as black boxes, not stepping through the code to see what might be impacting the output.

        • #3326118


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Part of Quality is debugging skills

          What I noticed was almost the reverse, they were opening up every box they came across and checking each one out, which is more workable but a tad inefficient.

          Makes you wonder what they are learning, if they don’t understand how encapsulation relates to a design. There again the number of global variables they put in do they understand black box at all.

        • #3318525


          by mrwizard10 ·

          In reply to Business Mind and documentation

          I totally agree with you. As an instructor here in the NW at a technical college, I try and bring the business model and rational into everything. Everytime that the business case is stated, IT at least gets more consideration than when they speak “geektalk” and expect it to convince nontechnical personnel. Teach finance, accounting, ROI, and financial impacts and you will go far.

        • #3318465

          Are you asking for the impossibles ?

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Business Mind and documentation

          Can you focus and present business costs and benefits of your organization’s IT assets ? sounds like you need some ITRM (IT Resource Management) tools. SQA is generally not taught as a subject anywhere because of the dynamics and dependencies of corporate cultures and platforms. While SLA is a necessary component of a business agreement, how many business entities keep their side of the SLA do you know ? probably zero. In an ideal world documentation should be accurate and usable and precise, perhaps you should do the documentation yourself if you are not happy with what you have or have not got, I still don’t believe that static documentation and information needs exist in today’s business world.

      • #3301584


        by kensmi ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        Soft Skill: Learning skills. Don’t be afraid to learn new concepts, and never think you are an expert. There is always something new to learn.
        Technical Skill: Firm grasp of the basic principles. I graduated as an electronics engineer in 1981 and got started in digital electronics back when a computer technician’s workbench included an oscilloscope and a Huntron tracker. It doesn’t matter how complex and fancy our systems get, the laws of physics and fundemental laws of electronics still apply, especially in my current job in network management.

      • #3301576

        Understanding why we are on the payroll…

        by mhasf ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        I see all too often that IT people are lacking in their understanding of the importance of cause and effect. In most cases, I see people approaching their assets (especially their servers) as if they are gaming machines at their homes. Running the backbone of a network is serious business and requires serious thinking.

        I try to share this with my younger and less seasoned coworkers. With proper attention to the fact that you are maintaing the heartbeat of your company, a network can and should be a trouble-free entity.

        My definition of a network is: “A heterogenious collection of devices that perform [network tasks] harmoniously in such a way that the user community does not and need not know that it exists.”

        In a nutshell, I want to be like the old Maytag repair guy.

        • #3301525


          by kensmi ·

          In reply to Understanding why we are on the payroll…

          This is an excellent point. So often we forget the big picture. In my environment, it is absolutely vital that we remember we have the success or failure of our company in our hands. The systems and the network are there to satisfy a real business need. Perhaps we should add a certain amount of economics and business sense to our list of IT skills.

        • #3318468

          network is more than devices, and they are indeed like a global jungle

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Understanding why we are on the payroll…

          Today’s networking (inter-, intra-, extra-, whatever) is not as controllable as it once was, application and user demands are no longer easily calculatable or predicative as in the old days. While I detest un-managed network planning and administration, I also understand and empathize with the complexities and limitations networking folks have to deal with.

        • #3346497

          As if they are gaming machines?

          by tomsal ·

          In reply to Understanding why we are on the payroll…

          First I’m curious as to what you meant by “I see people approaching their assets (especially their servers) as if they are gaming machines…”.

          Second, I point this out because aside from the casual gamer (non-techie they literally just want to play games), have you ever seen or known a hard core gamer who is also in the IT field or otherwise a “tech geek”?

          We, oh um..I mean “they” 🙂 are meticulous about their machines running as best and as fast as possible and with maximum uptime and minimum problems.

          We tweak, clean, check, update, fix, maintain our game boxes with efficiency that would make you think we get paid for gaming (ironically some do too..and quite well).

          Why because while gaming is fun for us we love the technology as well and we take it serious to have fun and enjoy it all.

          Of course, as I type this I’m picture a select group in my mind — the guys (and 3 ladies) that I hook up with online with various games from time to time. Naturally this whole thing I said doesn’t hold true for all gamers. Some folks just are lazy and never take care of their stuff.

        • #3326640

          Yes, gaming machines

          by brudab ·

          In reply to As if they are gaming machines?

          I believe the point at which he was aiming was that servers should not be tampered with continuously. Set one solid configuration from the start and then leave it alone…

      • #3301573


        by cmo ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        I think the most essential skills are something that cannot be taught, its something in the people that makes them successful in their roles i.e. tenacity, logical thinking and common sense. Finding analytical people with good listening skills and focus is key.

        Technical experience on top of the above makes for skillful people but without a little common sense and logical thinking you can teach as much tech as you want… won’t get the results!

      • #3301503

        Get Buy-in for your ideas

        by gdf ·

        In reply to Soft and Technical Skills

        I’m probably nuts for trying to respond to this at such a late date – who reads the comments at the bottom anyway? But I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and I think there are a couple of things worth knowing.

        1. On the technical side, learn programming skills, particularly object-oriented and event-driven. The language isn’t important, but the concepts are the very underpinning of modern computing. Too many old geezers like me never got past subroutine-level modular programming. Luckily, I’m not one of them.

        2. On the “soft skills” side, first I should say that I greatly dislike the term. There are numerous business and people skills that you need to learn to grow in this or any profession. Many are anything BUT “soft” – they’re rooted in business management and are required elements of MBA programs.

        There is one that, to me, has been critical in the IT realm: Get firm buy-in for your ideas. Don’t make major changes in your company without a) a clear and complete plan, b) support from upper management, and c) sign-offs from all your stakeholders that the proposed changes are good and that they’ll do their part to make them work. Sign-offs need to be real signatures, not just nods at the water cooler.

        You’ll soon discover that you can’t get the first signature until you actually learn to listen to what your customers need and adapt your plan to meet it, so many of the OTHER “soft skills” suggested by responders apply here: flexibility, good listening and presentation skills, and the ability to share credit with your staff and peers.

        • #3301469

          Organizational Skills better than “Soft” Skills

          by michelle.reavis ·

          In reply to Get Buy-in for your ideas

          We all operate in organizations – be they families, classrooms, or campanies. I teach students that communication, busines perspective, etc. are Organizational Skills.

        • #3346411

          I’ll buy that

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Get Buy-in for your ideas

          Sometimes you need even more.
          I know one bunch of graduate types who came up with a recording system.
          Their system was endorsed by management and key technical types.
          However in order to do the link to the rest of the world, the required product identifier was to be manually entered by an operator. (The only solution they were capable of)

          They somehow forgot that there were 75 products an hour, the data station was up two flights of stairs and said operator had about 900 other things to do, at the bottom of the steps.

          I laughed my orbs off when they explained, the guys on the shop floor would have lynched them.

          Even worse in my opinion, if it had been workable, the operators got absolutely nothing tangible out of the system.

    • #3299242


      by dafe2 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Most Important Soft Skill – Sales / Presentation

      Most Important Technical Skill – Security (Broad Focus)

    • #3299239

      If you’re in the US then…

      by packratt ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Teach your students how to look for a different career or how to be an expat..

      An IT career is a dead end in the US.

      • #3299179


        by maxwell edison ·

        In reply to If you’re in the US then…

        It’s “dead” only if you think it’s dead. Moreover, anyone who thinks it’s “dead”, or finds that it’s “dead”, would probably find a dead end path regardless of their chosen career.

        The opportunities are unlimited.

        • #3299115

          Reply To: What Should I Teach?

          by secure_lockdown9 ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          “The opportunities are unlimited”

          they sure are — as long as you keep your expectations real low.

        • #3299028


          by jdmercha ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          There are plenty of low-end opportunities, but very few high-end openings.

        • #3299012

          I agree

          by house ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          IT careers are plenty, but they require flexibility and adaptation on the part of the individual. I’ve had no problem developing my contacts within the industry, even in a “one horse” town.

        • #3301672

          Pay Your Dues

          by psu-curt ·

          In reply to I agree

          If you expect to come out of school and walk into a top-end Senior Analyst position advising the CEO – it’s not going to happen. IF you’re willing to take an entry-level postion, pay your dues, and work your way up, the opportunities are limited only by your ambition.

        • #3301557


          by house ·

          In reply to Pay Your Dues

          That’s the biggest problem that I see with these new grads. Everyone wants everything right away. It doesn’t work that way at all. Don’t think for one second that someone is going to be hired into a senior position straight out of university. I would never even consider that myself.

        • #3318254

          junior forever

          by eddie_is_okay ·

          In reply to Pay Your Dues

          Hi, I have been a junior IT guy for 6 years. i have my MCSE, and I have been looking for a new job for 2 years. Nothing!

          I like what I do, but I don’t like where I do it. The people I work with are very corrupt.

        • #3346525


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to junior forever

          You haven’t got Junior in your job title on your cv have you ?

        • #3346384

          Not in my title

          by eddie_is_okay ·

          In reply to Hmm

          No I do not have it specified in my title or my CV, but I have not been able to get a more senior position with my current work experience.

        • #3346393

          Join ’em

          by house ·

          In reply to junior forever

          Nuff said. Join them. 🙂

          It’s a dirty game.

        • #3346134

          Mentor mode engaged.

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to junior forever

          Don’t know where you are, or your exact circumstances, but certainly in the UK, six years would be considered very experienced. Your technical skills would have to be very unmarketable or there’s some sort of presentation failure.

          If you aren’t getting put forward for interviews, your cv/cover letter is failing you, or your expectations are cutting you out of the picture. I got cut out for a year from one agency because I forgot to update the salary range I was looking at. It looked like I wanted 10k above market for the job. Other constraints like within 10 miles of home, free healthcare will kill you as well.

          If you are getting interviews, but not getting the jobs, then you need to pick up interview presentation skills, how you sell yourself face to face.
          Aagin you’ve got the net or a book.

          Finally if you lack confidence in whether you’ve been helped by reading a book or two, you’ll have to spend some real money and get a cv makeover and training on interview technique etc.

          Don’t be hard on yourself, it takes practice, to learn how to sell anything, selling yourself can is the hardest, especially for those of us who are more comfortable with inanimate objects.

          Take a step back, look at the market. Re-examine what you want, look at what you can get. I’ve sold myself on my minor skills, or only on my soft skills before now. My situation was markedly different to yours but it took me two years to get my second job. I had to apply the waffle above to myself.

          Hope this helps.

        • #3301670

          If YOU are in the U.S…

          by shadowpassword ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          I have to agree with Mr. Edsion. No doubt you are joy to be around both privately and professionally-not.

          Moreover, if YOU are in the U.S. then…leave-we don’t need you here with that attitude.

          (At the very least you could leave Tech Republic so the real professionals can get on with the business at hand without interference from you.)

        • #3301570

          Any IT guys out of work?

          by flashcraft ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          Has anyone heard or know of any IT guys out of work? I mean, not working in their regular, preferred IT field? If you have then I would have to wonder why they would be.

          That might be a way of judging the reality for career prospects in their geographic area and field at least.

        • #3301549


          by jdmercha ·

          In reply to Any IT guys out of work?

          Yes geography plays a big role. I know someone who just started a new job after being unemployed for over 18 months. He wasn’t willing to move.

        • #3346075

          IT Careers Not dead but in Danger

          by vozniakd ·

          In reply to Dead??????

          I don’t agree that the IT career path in the US is dead, but it is certainly in danger. Why? Two reasons: Outsourcing, and over loading.

          For example: Ford sent thousands of IT jobs overseas last year because it was cheaper than keeping those experienced IT professionals working here in the US. That placed thousands of experienced professionals into the workforce. With that many fewer jobs available, and that many more candidates in the job market, it makes it harder to find a new position, and drives down salaries for those new positions when they are available.

          In addition IT is a *hot* field, with thousands of new graduates every year. As those graduates come into the market, they are now competing with the experienced workers that are being displaced by outsourcing.

          Given the choice between a candidate with 10 years professional experience, and a new grad with no experience most companies will jump at the chance to get that seasoned professional for an entry level wage.

          Between companies paring their IT departments to the bare bones to save money in this poor economy, and companies outsourcing their IT jobs, the prospect for employment for new grads is not outstanding, and the prospects for the more experienced workers to obtain positions at their level is not good, and the prospects of IT professionals being promoted is slim.

          What to do? Hopefully, once the economy gets going, the prospects will improve.

          As for starting your own business, more power to you if you have the money, the time and the skills and experience to do so. New businesses are expensive and time consuming. In addition, many IT professionals lack the skills and experience to be entrepreneurs.

          Your best bet is to ensure that you have skills in the latest technologies, and to make sure that you are not one sided. Always have a backup available ? develop new skills outside of IT just in case.

      • #3301647

        IT Not a Dead End

        by geekygirl63 ·

        In reply to If you’re in the US then…

        Interesting perspective. However, I have been in IT for 18 years and have not run into the dead end yet. I think what is important to teach is that you must always update your skills. Its not about what certifications you have but whether or not you can actually perform the job.

        I have also recently started my own computer business, primarily focusing on home systems. There is a real market out there, especially in households where the primary users are much older adults.

      • #3318445

        Hang in there, it’s getting better.

        by flashcraft ·

        In reply to If you’re in the US then…

        Hi Packratt,
        I read your post with interest and not a little sympathy. I know the feeling. Personally, I don’t think that IT in the US is a dead end. However, we do have some serious challenges that can’t be disregarded and people I know have had to regear and recreate themselves to survive.

        Constant change for better or worse seems to be the rule for us. I don’t know your personal situation but I hope you’ll stay with it (no pun intended ;-). Good luck.

    • #3299217

      My take

      by av . ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important soft skill is listening. The most important technical skill is resourcefulness.

      There are several others that deserve honorable mention like patience, good communication skills and maintaining composure.

      • #3301578

        I agree 100 per cent

        by featherman ·

        In reply to My take

        The title of the post says it all… Although I am a late entry to this discussion, I agree that what are commonly called “Customer Service” or “Sales” skills are of primary importance in the IT industry (which, by the way is most assuredly NOT dead – it’s just not the gold mine it was a few years ago… But then again, what is?), as the ability to listen, and to really hear what is being said is the key to success in not only IT, but in just about any industry at all…

        Please don’t get me wrong; the technical skills are important, but if you go into a project (even if the “project” is a simple “hell desk” call) with preconceived notions of what the issue is and how to address it, you are almost certainly going to fail

    • #3299193


      by secure_lockdown9 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      soft skills –> project management

      tech skills –> microsoft

      you can also try to teach unix/linux basics – it’s a hot area now – but who knows if it will be as hot in 3 to 5 years from now. there is a very good chance MS will still be making hot (not nessessarily the best products – but hot products – MS know how to sell!!) in 3 to 5 years from now.

    • #3299090


      by salamander ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      It would be helpful for them to learn how to relate IT projects and needs to the business goals in order to get the funding and leeway needed to proceed with IT projects. Learning to write good project proposals and cost justifications is important in the current climate. It’s sort of like sales…only selling internally to acheive desired results.

      As for technical skills…I agree with the previous posters, but would add flexibility. No matter what the hot technology is today, it will be different tomorrow. Adaptability is key.

      • #3313910

        I agree with that one

        by nd_it ·

        In reply to Skills…

        Since alot of IT departments are looked at as overhead, selling a project to management that could save them $, a person needs to have have some business understanding, along project managment skills, and problem solving and logic.

    • #3299061

      Good mix

      by amcol ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I’m glad to hear you’re presenting the soft and “hard” side of skills acquisition…too many professors concentrate on one at the expense of the other, which sends the wrong message about managing a successful IT career.

      Which, despite other posts to the contrary, is relatively easy to do here in the US. The reports of the demise of American IT are greatly, greatly exaggerated.

      From a class of my own, taught at the Master’s level but germane to your situation:

      Technical skills: at present (a key distinction to make) focus on anything having to do with security, although this window of opportunity is closing. “Classic” technical skills that will continue to be in demand (although the specifics will continually evolve) are database design and development (especially in the sub-specialty of data warehousing) and statistical modeling, which requires a strong depth and breadth of knowledge of marketing and consumer behavior.

      Soft skills (not necessarily in any order): resiliency (change or die), communication (oral and written), execution (ask questions that begin with “how” rather than “what”), anything having to do with project management and/or leadership, financial controls (basic accounting, at the very least), and methods for quantifying the strategic value of IT.

      I’d also advise anyone seeking a successful, long term IT career to have a second sub-specialty in a non-technical area, like finance or marketing. Here, as in all things, the value of the whole is greater than the value of the sum of the parts, so one’s ability to marry two different disciplines and provide added value as a result is part of what sets such a person apart.

      Most important skill (regardless of category): ability to evolve and avoidance of comfort zones. All things change, IT especially (and especially fast). That old chestnut about the PC you buy being obsolete the minute you walk out the store applies to all of us. I’d tell your students to not look at their newly minted diploma as a ticket to a lifetime of professional employment…it’s just the entry fee.

      • #3301659

        Good advice

        by patrapp ·

        In reply to Good mix

        Thanks. This is some very useful advice, not only for those in IT, but for anyone in the job market. I’ve got four teenagers in my house and have printed this out for them because the soft skills listed are, without a doubt, more realistic and useful than any advice I could ever come up with on my own.

      • #3301653

        Good! I Agree.

        by herrmanso ·

        In reply to Good mix

        From Sud America: is a good brief, write a lot more about each subjet and you have a paper!!

    • #3299058

      Business, critical thinking, management

      by house ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      You should have a brief module relating to projects, methods, and planning to kick off your course. Not design modules, just a general life skills blurp before the course runs full swing. Get them in the mood for labs and critical thinking.

      What kind of course is this? Software technologies, network engineer, programming, web-development? If you know the route that you want to go, please let us know so that we can be of more help.

      If it is a networking course, then I recommend starting out with A+ and Network+ modules in order to establish a key understanding of the future topics. I would also recommend a brief “network mathematics” course at the beginning to teach binary, hex, and decimal theory, as well as subnetting with case examples. Don’t drag them too much into VLSM and advanced methods, leave that for a CCNA module later on.

      Dip into Linux with an introductory course. You can go a little deeper into Unix itself by playing around with OpenBSD, or something along those lines.

      • #3301510

        Buy-in for your ideas

        by gdf ·

        In reply to Business, critical thinking, management

        I’m probably nuts for trying to respond to this at such a late date – who reads the comments at the bottom anyway? But I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and I think there are a couple of things worth knowing.

        1. On the technical side, learn programming skills, particularly object-oriented and event-driven. The language isn’t important, but the concepts are the very underpinning of modern computing. Too many old geezers like me never got past subroutine-level modular programming. Luckily, I’m not one of them.

        2. On the “soft skills” side, first I should say that I greatly dislike the term. There are numerous business and people skills that you need to learn to grow in this or any profession. Many are anything BUT “soft” – they’re rooted in business management and are required elements of MBA programs.

        There is one that, to me, has been critical in the IT realm: Get firm buy-in for your ideas. Don’t make major changes in your company without a) a clear and complete plan, b) support from upper management, and c) sign-offs from all your stakeholders that the proposed changes are good and that they’ll do their part to make them work. Sign-offs need to be real signatures, not just nods at the water cooler.

        You’ll soon discover that you can’t get the first signature until you actually learn to listen to what your customers need and adapt your plan to meet it, so many of the OTHER “soft skills” suggested by responders apply here: flexibility, good listening and presentation skills, and the ability to share credit with your staff and peers.

    • #3299031

      My view

      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft skill – Salesmanship (as someone stated before)

      Technical skill – understanding how coputers actually work.

      I’ve seen too many techs who can’t deal with a problem they have not seen before. They cannot relate one problem to another. I’ve been through cert classes (MS, Novell) and helped my son through others (CISCO, A+). More than 90% of what they teach you is less than 10% of what you will ever do. They fail to teach problem solving skills.

      • #3313796

        Too right

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to My view

        Imagine a carpentry student who knows how to use a whole range of tools and passed his exam by making a chair. From then on everyone in IT has a laptop because the highly qalified carpenter can’t make a table.

    • #3313954

      Pride in a job well done

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      That would be a nice change from many of the new up and coming techs. To learn that it is always worth the time to do the job right the first time.

      Try to make real life problems for them to solve. Too many classes teach functions but not how or why or when to apply them.

      • #3313806

        Great observation!

        by dafe2 ·

        In reply to Pride in a job well done

        You just made a great point…….

        There should be some focus on solving simulated business issues & with an emphasis on ‘do it right once’.

        All too many times band aids are applied & have to be revisited time and again.

        • #3313791

          Be fair

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Great observation!

          Things don’t always get revisited because someone in IT made a cod of it. An important thing to teach is if you’re are going to design a pit fall, knock up a ladder at the same time. There are many many reasons why the pit fall was a logical idea either from a design, current business model or even god forbid financial reason. Cutting some steps so you can get out of it yourself is going to get you a lot of brownie points when you get thrown in it though. They don’t have to be good steps, lashed together accountants femurs will do.

        • #3313764

          Heheh your right of course

          by dafe2 ·

          In reply to Be fair

          What I was actually trying to say…… well, you said it better. 🙂


        • #3301504

          At least do it for a reason

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Be fair

          If you need to take a shortcut, at least do it for a reason not just because it is easier on you right then.

          There is a BIG difference between having to make do with what you have and just doing crappy work.

        • #3318318

          As Merry said to Frodo

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to At least do it for a reason

          “Short cuts make for long delays”
          Unfortunately as a business software developer you cannot avoid making them. A designer who takes a short cut so he can spend more time browsing is a total a**e, one who takes one, because say sales set the project deadline, is doing his job. An experienced designer, would highlight the shortcut and leave some directions of how to get back to road just in case the it ended with him in Sauron’s fist.

      • #3318463

        Not using object, component or container based architecture?

        by james.chau ·

        In reply to Pride in a job well done

        Real life problems require real life data, who can prepare these structured or un-structured data? You should realize that you cannot debug the various real life situations if you do not have the required test data.

        OO, component or container based architectures all deploy an iterative development approach while what you are proposing here is the old classical waterfall approach, albeit on a smaller scale ? Regards.

        • #3318274

          RAD = OO ????

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Not using object, component or container based architecture?

          You can manage an OO development with a Classical Waterfall PM approach
          Equally you can do an iterative project with Non OO tools.
          One has does not preclude the other.
          A big problem in the industry is the perception that non waterfall approaches are unmanaged ones, outright nonsense that. Its just that accountants and non-technical managers are happier with the large volume of numbers that come out of a classical design. The fact that these numbers were estimates of estimates based on guesses about a fantasy was unimportant.

        • #3346321

          are we crossing subjects ?

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to RAD = OO ????

          Waterfall is older and certainly it supercedes most if not all other development approaches since familiarity is best; but when you have that much quality definition why not just stick them into WebWhatever App Server and just generate the horde of code and voila, project finished (Information Engineering / Case Tools sound familiar to you ?)

          What’s at issue is the delivery of production code that works and is of good quality which can also be reused thru newer techniques like OO or component.

          Waterfall is not un-managed, it is hyper-managed.

          Again, we are crossing subjects since deliverables is the topic and you seem to be talking about project planning…

        • #3345675

          Cross threading

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to are we crossing subjects ?

          Never happened before, but I may have read what I wanted to read instead of reading what you wanted to write.
          It just seemed from your post you were linking OO to RAD. From your reply you weren’t.
          Did I say waterfall was un-managed ? Have to lay off the drugs, talk about reality check.

          Where I work we choose a lifecycle based on the type of deliverable and the customer. Some methods work better than others, and sometimes development efficiency has to be sacrificed to external pressures. Neither method should ever be un-managed, short of extreme luck, that’s your next financial disaster.
          OO is not always the most efficient way of doing something. It lends itself extremely well to a lot of business IT, but there are cases when the overhead of objects is unacceptable.

        • #3345151

          You have hit the head of the nail right on !

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Cross threading

          I wish to add my little 2 cents by saying that the budget should dictate the ADLC (application development life cycle) since budget is usually the ultimate reality check for most situations… cheers.

          Although OO is not perfect, it is the closest to reality we have got through software simulation.

        • #3344896

          I love OO

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to You have hit the head of the nail right on !

          I’ve been thru just about every goddamn modelling process there is for verifying your design with the requirements. Everything from flow diagrams to the Vienna Development method.
          The best thing about it isn’t the technical aspects, after all OO developers have very different ideas how that should be done. It’s because, it’s the way our customers think and the extensibility means you can cope with ambiguity in the detail, and even the odd out right snafu.

          Obvious in retrospect, but damn clever.

          I use OO models and then translate them to a classical design, it’s easier to present and verify and it gives you a very clean foundation, the one you were trying to aim for with traditional concepts.

        • #3344839

          About budgets

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to You have hit the head of the nail right on !

          While budget is the reality check, and there is a cost to a lifecyle.
          So is the engineering cost.
          Far too many times engineering is given the order to go ahead when the budget is what can be afforded as opposed to what is required. In those cases the first casualty is always quality. 20M of well written but undocumented code is far from a total success.
          I always try to have content sacrificed in these situations, do a smaller amount of good work not a large amount of bad work. The latter always costs more than you planned.

          Being a foolish optimist by nature I’m still waiting for this to happen more than once a year.

    • #3313808

      It depends on what area of IT they are in

      by a_dangerous_mind ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Most important for both soft and hard skills may be different in system administration, or development, or business analysis and QA. Problem solving skills would be important to all, but maybe not most important to all. Likewise for sales, etc. Take a look at for some ideas.

      • #3301625

        Problem-solving should be tops!

        by nicknielsen ·

        In reply to It depends on what area of IT they are in

        Problem-solving or analytical thinking is an absolutely essential skill. The ability to use what you know to think problems through is important to everybody, no matter the work experience or job level.

        • #3318469

          Without good work experience,you will create instead of solve problems

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Problem-solving should be tops!

          Too often I have encountered code and objects which should not have been developed in the first place. Given today’s short deadlines, it is detrimental to try and analyze problem domains without proper background and training or experiences.

        • #3346452

          Can certainly happen but

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Without good work experience,you will create instead of solve problems

          You can’t teach people everything. So what you should teach them is something for reference then and how and when to apply it.
          Problem solving and problem identification have got to be key skills on that basis. Unfortunately for students the latter is usually left to the examiner, and the former is predicated by the tools and environment on which the course is based.

        • #3346312

          How many problem domains are there ?

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Can certainly happen but

          System problems can be categorized, scoped and maybe solved, such as memory, CPU resources, security, database engines, etc. But application problems are virtually limitless. Therefore when the students learning problem solving for applications it is quite different and “real life” application scenarios just does not exist except in a very academic sense. Most problem solving tasks involve duplication of error conditions, how do you achieve that if you do not have the necessary test / live data in the system ?

        • #3345673

          Cross Threading 2

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to How many problem domains are there ?

          Write a program to compute the square of each member of a list is a hard skills question and a soft skills solution.
          Certainly when I was frequenting academia it was never put that way.

        • #3345157

          Why don’t you write business logic that way ?

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Cross Threading 2

          I am sure you can compute some power of some number series and solve all the world’s business problems and every scenario is as simple as that, academia or not, hmm, I don’t think you need program debuggers or test data, just work with formulas, like Albert Einstein.

        • #3344892

          May be

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Cross Threading 2

          I’m out of date. But the only logic I was taught in my courses was boolean. Business logic was something I learnt at work. Which was my real point, one without the other and you aren’t a developer.

    • #3313805

      Project Management and Security

      by tomsal ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Seriously…I know the IT market in the US isn’t that great, my trouble is lack of a 4 year degree — I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve heard of someone or had it happen to be directly have the “door” shut on them/me because some employers still refuse to even use up any time to talk with you if you have no 4 year or greater degree. Mind you I have experience and certs and 2 AS degrees as well…still no go.

      ANYWAY I got off the track…

      Security is HOT HOT HOT, its seriously the one field I know for sure is in very much demand in the US IT industry. If you are great at security systems and networks, your changes of getting a decent – to good job in IT are still very good.

      Also I think project management skills are big too for the modern IT pro, other things would include business sense (I don’t know how else to word it sorry).

      But IT pros today need to talk the business talk and understand it just as much as the tech talk.

      CEO’s and corporate types eat that stuff up with IT folk have business savvy and understanding.

    • #3313803

      Radical Idea

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft skill. Holistics, (boundaries, perceptions, thinking outside of the box etc.)
      I did a course on it and it’s very useful. Amazing how many IT professionals forget those annoying carbon based biological things that are about to make a complete failure out of their brilliant design.
      Tech skills is hard one though, depends on how long before your students hit the streets ready for a job. Very little point in teaching them what’s all the rage in the market if they’re going to be two years out of date when they get the certification.
      Based on my experience of academia, Iwould n’t worry too much about the language. Pascal and smalltalk are hard to argue with from a purist’s point of view. The market would suggest C and java, but if you are teaching development skills that’s just the backdrop. If you can’t program it doesn’t really matter what language you can’t program in does it. I was taught the essence of programmimg by writing down what keys I’d press on a calculator to achieve the sum of any three figures. Once you’ve mastered that bit the rest is just syntax. If your student’s are going into commercial development, then take you standard every day programming course, find two exercises in it with an initial development and then an enhancement.
      Get each student to do the first phase of both. At half of the way into the course give them the second part of one of exercises but with a starting point of another students work. Towards the end of it given them other but with their own starting point. At least then their first employer will have a chance of reading why they got it wrong.

    • #3316938

      A good subject would be…

      by robdew ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Masterbation skills… This way you can beat management to it..

    • #3301715


      by srpsco ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Communication – The ability to speak, write and communicate with your end user, management etc. Too many programs get written in a vacum or silo, with the attitude that I know what you need and I will give it to you, and you better love it. As the IT staff it is our job to learn how, why and what our end users do and need from a solution. Not the other way around.

      • #3301703

        And application…

        by glitcha1 ·

        In reply to Communication

        Communication is the most important. Second is the ability to apply what they have learned.

        If they are studying programming, have the unit geared towards the concepts, instead of the features of the language.

        Teach them in pascal, have them code the final assignment in C. That’s what happened at my School 🙂

        • #3345671

          That must have been hard

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to And application…

          Mind you if they’d have done it the other way round.


          Good idea though, you could update to Delphi & C#, with the same impact.
          Until you’ve coded in more than one language, it’s very hard to see how the language can be a constraint on your design, or of course an enabler.

      • #3318548

        Global Economy

        by 12345 ·

        In reply to Communication

        Hi Boys & Girls…since we all live in today’s “Global Economy” it would be VERY useful to learn another language or two to expand our potential work environment/territory?? Just a thought on the soft skill side!

    • #3301712

      Business knowledge

      by paul.osborne ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important IT skill is knowing how to get out of trouble and cover your tracks ;o)

      Seriously though, the biggest failing many IT pros have is lack of business knowledge. How on earth can a companies systems be maintained if the person looking after them doesnt understand the business or how it works. Which are the busines critical systems for the companies employees/customer? It’s by no means the same systems an IT manager sees as important in many cases – for different reasons.

      An IT pro should be there to provide a service for their front line/customer facing colleagues, and to keep the day to day business running with as little interuption as possible. Thats where the money comes from to pay their wages! In my experience it often isnt seen like this.

    • #3301709

      The IT world is changing

      by johnlil ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      As in the past the manufacturing industry has migrated away from North America/Europe to Asia so the main bulk of the run-of-the-mill IT work is being done increasingly “off-shore”. Many of your students will end up in liaison/supervising roles and so I think the main skills you need to teach are:-
      communications – how to write and converse especially with those whose first language is not English and to take into account cultural differences
      project management/monitoring
      testing methods and importance of thorough checkout, acceptance procedures etc
      sizing and estimating – not only for human activites and project costing but for eg database sizes, execution times etc.

      Hope this helps.

    • #3301702

      Most important soft and technical skills for IT professionals

      by timochanda ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      IT, as a discipline in the modern day business world, has acquired a new paradigm shift where IT professionals are judged not by how much knowledge they have of the diverse applications but by how they can relate these solutions to the busniess problem at hand. Effective and efficient delivery of these solutions within budget is also of essence. The critical skills here therefore are business analysis & evaluation (assessing project viability) and end-to-end project delivery management.
      Tim Ochanda

    • #3301700

      Most important soft and technical skills for IT professionals

      by timochanda ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      IT, as a discipline in the modern day business world, has acquired a new paradigm shift where IT professionals are judged not by how much knowledge they have of the diverse applications but by how they can relate these solutions to the busniess problem at hand. Effective and efficient delivery of these solutions within budget is also of essence. The critical skills here therefore are business analysis & evaluation (assessing project viability) and end-to-end project delivery management.
      Tim Ochanda

    • #3301690

      Most Valuable depends on definition

      by junkmail ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      If you have a job, the most valuable skill is troubleshooting ability. You need to be able to possess/collect information from a wide range of sources, analyze it, and pinpoint likely areas of conflict.

      If you’re looking for a job, the most valuable skill is writing your resume to highlight whatever technology is hot at the moment in the field you want to work in.

      Too many job interviewers and screeners look for an exact number of years in an exact corner of a specific field. This is stupid for most positions, but it’s what happens when people who don’t know much about what they’re doing have hiring or screening power.

    • #3301686

      Highest Piority Skills = People Skills

      by krlayne ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      One skill that is both soft and technical that you should try to pass on to your students is for them to enhance their people skills. I dare say that most I.T. people are pretty proficient in what they do, with various levels of talent. But one skill that is severely lacking in most technical persons I know is people skills. With a piece of equipment/software invariably you will work out what is wrong with it and fix it. People are not so easy to fix or understand. It is vitally important that you acquire the skill of dealing with people. They will be your customers, employers, employees and co-workers. Patience with those who depend on us to keep their systems running, for those who hate all things computer, for those who had a bad weekend and come to work and take it out on the poor PC and you the technical support. The ability to express and present yourself before others. The ability to just say no and enough is enough without being rude. Poeple skills are vitally important to technical persons. These things come naturally for some people but for most they don’t. The same way you teach your students the technical stuff ( you will get plenty good advice for that here. These guys are great!) encourage them to go to similar classes that help enhance people skills (Dale Carnegie courses I can recommend). We will spend plenty money becoming qualified. Spend a little enhancing those people skills. They will differentiate you from the rest of the technical pack.

      • #3318348


        by clockwerk ·

        In reply to Highest Piority Skills = People Skills

        I will have to agree with this as one of the most important skills to have as an IT Professional. When all is said and done, I would say that 80% of the job is fixing the user first and 20% technical know how. It takes a very special skill to make the customer happy that his/her system is pooched beyond all recovery and will be down for the next week waiting on parts.

    • #3301683

      People Skills

      by tprattbp ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Too often IT thinks in terms of the inanimate objects of the network, but the network does not exist without people. The satisfaction of the “internal” customer” should be paramount. That is not to say that the “customer is always right”. He/she is often wrong (internal & external customers), but they should not be made to feel that they are wrong. With proper people skills, empathy, teaching ability, patience, etc., IT will gain advocates rather than adversaries on their networks.

      • #3301678

        TprattBP is right!!

        by m_pact ·

        In reply to People Skills

        I have been a network admin for 10 years now. Too many “IT Professionals” let the “power” they have go straight to their heads. It has been my experience that most techs find it easier to say no, than to assist and help the end user. After all, the end user is what keeps your organization going.

        I have seen a lot with the attitude of “Well, we have always done it this way.” That, in my opinion, is the worst thing to ever think or say. So, I recommend teaching first what TprattBP suggested and then teach the “Out of the box” fundamentals.

      • #3301474

        2 b silent

        by taurusnl ·

        In reply to People Skills

        Al the time when I talk to technical IT persons, they start finishing my sentences. Just be silent or ask questions that might make things clearer. And don’t start typing on my keyboard while standing against me. At least ask if you may sit in my chair to operate the PC

      • #3318542


        by ixias ·

        In reply to People Skills

        I have a sign next to my desk “They don’t know what they want until you give them what they don’t want.” “Even if it’s exactly what they asked for, it is probably not what they needed.” The purpose of the sign is to remind me to be patient. Most end users are not analysts. It’s my job to figure out what is really needed and make any adjustments later if they can not tell me when they ask. After all, if they could do it in addition to their own job what do they need me for?

    • #3301680

      What you could teach,

      by d.sorrell1 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Student techs need to end up with a wide range of pratical skills for the hands on work, they should be able to recall what parts of a pc do what and how they generally connect. Information of web sites to go to when in need of advice or drivers should be given and collected by students. Every day during break, set a delibrate but small fault on a pc and send the students to find it and correct it. One of the things i find students forget is how work inside and how to plan their connections properly, eg ide channels etc. Students looking to go in to the technical enviroment these days will need to have a bit of server understanding even if its only the principles of DHCP DNS and AD. If possible to set up A nt4 or 2k domain for students to get an idea on then do so. Give your students as much of a range as possible as they will not all want to be in exactly the same area of it. Encourage individuality by setting assignments that are to work out budget based plan, design and builds – students who know most about IT will usually find more for their supposed budget and an range of equipent rather than the less knowledgeable systems who may spend more on individual components for unknown reason and have the basics for task. DS 23 UK

      • #3301437

        Definitely a wide range of skill sets.

        by mgoldner ·

        In reply to What you could teach,

        The area of IT is so dynamic and evolving, that it is impossible for anyone to know all there is about it. What we can hope for it so give the students a good basic understanding of how the PC works, some basic programming (VB6) for scripting, principals of DHCP, DNS and networking. Ad and linux are important, but as they continue to evolve, I feel that this too should be on a basic level. What the students need most is to be taught how to identify a problem, then to have a good idea where to start to look for the solution. With that basic ability, their opportunities are endless. While they will have to pay their dues to get experience, there are more than enough positions for any competent Techie.

    • #3301677

      IT Needs Process Management

      by killinlj ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I think that in order to be successful now, someone contemplating a career in IT managment should consider learning about IT process management. THere are several reasons. We have traditionally been very good at the technical whiz-bang and innovation, but our technical focus on how we produce things has been lacking for some time. For example, work output that each IT process (e.g. like Change/Release Process) produces has an impact on the others. It is important to maximize the overall IT function through these processes. It will lead o simplification of work steps and produce a coordinated effort that will yield improvements to the corporation bottom line. The best way to manage IT organizations effectively and profitably is to understand the processes required to manage an IT shop. Then make sure your organization is following them using metrics. There are several frameworks out there to help like ITIL, CoBIT, CMMII, and others. I would suggest looking into these for certification, and ideas as to where you should focus next. – Larry Killingsworth, Manager Global IT Process Devlopment, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

    • #3301676

      Customer Service and Problem Solving

      by piratetoolz ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      An IT professional must have the necessary customer service skills in order to effectively serve his or her user base.

      For technical skills, one should always have a firm grasp on problem solving. Too many times there are so-called professionals that don’t have basic problem solving skills. These are people that hurt us in the eyes of our users and coworkers.

      • #3318336

        Bang On

        by alfmars ·

        In reply to Customer Service and Problem Solving

        Customer service is the biggie. We’ve all heard the saying “If we didn’t have users, we wouldn’t have problems”, but without users we also wouldn’t have jobs.
        Problem solving skills should be (but often aren’t) a given.

        • #3346519

          Too true

          by piratetoolz ·

          In reply to Bang On

          Customer Service can sometimes make up for a lack of troubleshooting skills. If the user goes away FEELING like they’ve been helped, thats good. If they go away feeling like they’ve been brushed off, or worse, mocked, they may regret even coming to IT with the issue.

          There is an aura of contempt surrounding IT in a lot of places…contempt both for and by the IT personnel. A good end user relationship goes a long way towards running a smooth IT shop.

    • #3301675

      2 Skills

      by dchilders ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      1.) Fanatic customer service commitment
      2.) Basic and strong fundamental understanding of TCP/IP.

    • #3301674

      Business Acumen plus technical savvy..

      by matthew moran ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I authored, The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit (Cisco Press) – – and discuss this issue in great detail. Additionally, I have sat on advisory boards for numerous colleges and technology training programs. It is an issue that is near and dear to my heart.

      My book project started in a discussion forum similar to this. Post DotCom bust (2001) I wrote an article titled, Why Technologist Must Learn To Speak Business – published by Power Media Group.

      In it, I identify three steps (and skills) that technology professionals can take to make their solutions more relevant. The resulting discussion and feedback from hundreds of technologists – identifying areas they struggled or felt unsure of – let to the Toolkit.

      While some categorize this as a shift in the IT industry, it has always been my belief that careers in IT (as with virtually any industry) require a constant refinement and growth of numerous skills. The challenge for the IT professional is two-fold. One, the industry tends to draw highly technical individuals who enjoy getting lost in the technology and who, for that reason, tend to pull away from the soft (less defined) skills. Two, the pressure to be “on top of their game” often forces technology professionals to feel there is not enough time to focus on anything but the technical skills.

      I understand the dilemma. I am a working consulting – currently developing an Access front-end to a SQL Server back-end for analysis and reporting. I also write scripts for server and desktop deployment and maintenance.

      The fact is, however, that it can be done. In fact, technology professionals tend to learn better when they have the more holistic idea of how their technology work impacts the business they serve.

      Additionally, there are key concepts in learning that can help people adopt new technologies without the time/stress involved. Part of this involves understanding and identifying similar or like elements of one technology to another. For instance, symantic differences aside, most programming is very similar in control constructs, base functionality, objects, classes, etc. – and when learning a new language rarely is one starting from scratch.

      In any case, I believe technologists must define their learning needs – not based on their current technical deficit alone but on an assessment of their overall career skills – communication (written/verbal), project development, project management, technical, professional networks, etc..

      Matthew Moran
      The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit

    • #3301671

      The 2 hardest skills to find…

      by nicknielsen ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Hard Skill – Analytical thinking

      Soft Skill – flexibility and adaptability

      In all of my jobs, the primary reasons I was hired were my fault isolation (analytical) skills and the flexibility I learned while in the military.

      If you can teach your students to reason through problems using existing knowledge and data, they have a good chance at getting good jobs. If you can also teach them to roll with the punches that life and work will throw at them, they will succeed at those jobs.

    • #3301669

      IT Teaching experience

      by djedje70 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I have had an experience teaching IT in comunity college and have discovered that the body of knowledge is not pratical enough to let student become operational after their courses. The curiculum gives them just a theory based approach on IT subject and does not help students sustain their knowledge after finishing their classes.
      The best approach (my view) should be focusing on small individual / groups projects that help students understand the why and how to apply their learning skills and give them a potential interest in the IT field later on.
      For students to get a part time job while in school, a basic practical of learning theory would be a plus since entreprises do not spend time training the new comers.
      What teaching??
      General knowledge about IT management
      Small IT project (basic desktops management)
      small iT project (basic network management)
      SDLC concepts
      Human skills (meeting , communication and problem solving processes)
      ==>When the students are invested then they can get deep knowledge on specific matter like (programing, ecommerce, wireless etc)

      • #3188000

        I agree with this

        by masinick ·

        In reply to IT Teaching experience

        I got a solid Computer Science degree from Michigan Tech a long time ago, (back in 1979). I think that I was in the second graduating class of full time Computer Science students. Prior to that, our courses were computer coursee in the Math department. By the time I graduated, it was the Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, and we had our own legitimate Computer Science degree.

        We had excellent theoretical classes and some good, solid programming classes. The one thing the main program lacked were some group projects. There were a few classes in the simulation laboratory that emphasized individual projects, but at the time, the only group programming project was in the business department, where an advanced Cobol group project was taught.

        Two or three years after I graduated, I visited the university during their famous Winter Carnival, and I got a chance to speak with the first full time professor in the Computer Science department. He asked me what the most helpful course was for me. I had to tell him that the Advanced COBOL project in the business department was the most useful class for what I had to do on the job, even though all the theory we learned was also useful. He sighed, and said that he had been making that argument to the curiculum committee for several years but had little success. The business department put their course together because that was a need they saw in business. They were right.

        You have to know some theory because you have to understand the principles of computing, but you also have to know how to effectively work on projects, both individually and as a team. You have to know how the pieces of a project fit together, and you have to communicate about the details.

    • #3301666

      Products change – Education stays the same

      by andeanderson ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      For Soft Skills the new people need to learn Customer Service skills. The customer is not always right. How to present themselves to their customers. Documentation procedures and methods for the jobs they are doing (Project Management).

      Technical Skills. I don’t see basic skills being taught anymore. There are some IT Professionals who do not know what a command line is. Everyone is being taught Specific GUI’s and Operating Systems. It doesn’t matter what computer or operating system is used, they are all basically the same, except for the terminology and the amount of support available.

      Computer Hardware is constantly changing – teach how to be flexble and attentive to new technologies. You never know when you’ll need to be able to apply that new technology. VOIP is a good example at this time.

      For Example: My daughter had a College Professor teaching her Basic Programming who did not know what a USB port was or how to use a USB Thumb Drive. The Professor only knew how to use an Iomega 100Mb Zip Drive. So, my daughter did not think too much of the class and considered it to be a waste of time and money.

      Her perception of this Professor destroyed what should have been a good foundation for programming. That applies to the business world also. Their perception of your ability will make or break your career.

    • #3301663

      Teach What You Know

      by psu-curt ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I’ve been a part-time Adjunct Professor at both the Undergrad and Masters level for several years. The thing my students appreciate most are my “real world” experiences from industry. Academia just does not prepare them for the business world.
      For soft skills: The most important thing you can teach your students is how to THINK!
      The ability to THINK a problem or assignment through to conclusion; to analyze and consider all aspects of the issue before taking action.
      For hard skills: It depends on their career goals, but I would strongly recommend good business skills. The IT industry, with few exceptions, is still concerned with the “business of doing business”. I have found over the past 30+ years in IT that a solid understanding of business concepts provides a definite advantage to your career.

    • #3301662

      What Should I Teach? – An Opinion

      by rv22 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I suspect that everyone would have there “pet answer” to this question and mostly I would suspect the answer depends upon the bias of the particular subject you are teaching.

      My background is a follows:

      After having trained in Telecoms and working as a maintenance engineer for over a decade, I obtained a qualification in computers and shortly afterward spent a few years teaching computer studies and related subjects in a college. I then took the opportunity to work in the IT industry and have since had a succession of jobs including network installation and maintenance, IT manager, software developer and currently my son and I run our own IT services company.

      Like most people, I now have the benefit of hindsight and I sometimes look back and think that I wish I had had the experience I have now when I was teaching 10 years ago… I might have been able to give them greater clarification and a few more shortcuts to really understanding what my students would face in the “real world”

      My “hindsight” list of essential skills for working in IT, based on my experience, are listed below:

      1. Problem Solving – Nearly all IT work is Problem Solving in one form or another. Some people are naturally good problem solvers but most need to be taught how to methodically go through the “matrix of possibilities” in a logical sequence to narrow-down faults/problems. This applies to hardware, software, operating systems, networks and especially programming. Problem solving is a generalisation and some of the important aspects or components are listed in the subsequent points of this list.

      2. Break it Down – Always break a problem down into small/simple parts and then tackle the most logical first. Any large task seems daunting, or even impossible at first. If we try to take it all on-board most of us will just go round in circles.

      3. Overcoming “Where do I start?” – When confronted with a problem, learning a new skill, charged with writing a complex program/application. This is the point when many can start to panic if they can’t see an instant solution… often a good place to start is by researching the task carefully and then putting point number 2 into practice.

      4. The 80/20 Rule – Always keep in mind that in the majority of cases, 80% of the work can be accomplished in 20% of the time it would take to complete a task fully. Most employers or clients need to carefully assess whether the other 20% (very often detail and “nice to have” elements) is absolutely necessary if they are going to have to budget for an extra 4 times the initial cost just to produce the “bells and whistles” – Additionally, it can be wise to identify the first readily achievable 80% of any task so that you can stay ahead of the game, for the sake of your own self-confidence.

      5. Be a Pessimist! – With IT, most of us know that if it can go wrong, it generally will go wrong – Always backup and check that your backups have actually been recorded on the backup media. – Never neglect firewalls, anti-virus protection, spyware and pop-up defence… Rebuilding PC’s and Servers can take a lot of time. All honest IT professionals will admit to ignoring this one and have paid for it with time and stress!

      6. Only make one change at a time to settings on a PC, piece of equipment, or item of software when trying to rectify a problem (back to the “matrix of possiblities”) that way you can track the last thing that caused a nosedive or fixed the problem.

      7. Always try to be Pleasant and Patient – Most IT professionals have to interact with users/colleagues/bosses. Try to remember what it was like when you were learning how to use a computer, software or, indeed develop any skill – It generally took time… and if someone was pleasant and patient with you, it made the whole experience more enjoyable!

      8. Keep Proper Software Records… and make sure that your business or your employer has the correct licences for the software being used – It’s a great feeling being able to sleep at night when the BSA writes and says it wants to come and help you audit your software – If there are any problems, employers who have pressured you into multiple use of licences, for economic reasons, suddenly try to blame you for not doing your job properly then plead ignorance and total IT illiteracy.

      9. Thinking/Planning Time – Despite the pressure of your workload, you always need to allot yourself time to plan your day, week, project, solving of your problem… Don’t allow yourself to tackle anything without being prepared mentally… If you do, it usually ends in tears!

      These are just some of the practical points that I can think I would like to have explained to me if I was starting out again in IT… I suspect many of us could fill a whole technical reference with this sort of advice… given the time to do so.

      Hope this is OK.

      • #3301587

        Great Insight from Experience

        by maustin ·

        In reply to What Should I Teach? – An Opinion

        Thanks for your insight and sage advice. Sounds like experience has been a great teacher that we all can learn.

    • #3301661

      Troubleshooting and Problem Solving

      by jfister_state of nh ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      It may be a soft skill but an extremely important one. Troubleshooting and problem solving will make every technician more efficient and valuable. Also, make sure your teach “keep it simple.”

      • #3301651

        Troubleshooting is key

        by blkbam ·

        In reply to Troubleshooting and Problem Solving

        No matter which part of IT you go into, good troubleshooting skills are important! I’ve seen far too many times in my company where people don’t know how to find the answer to a problem without asking someone to help them. Even people who have worked here and been in the IT field longer than I have.

        • #3346430

          Too True

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Troubleshooting is key

          We’ve all sat looking in the wrong place in a system for a problem at some time or another.

          The ability to drop all your assumptions when trying to find a fault is very important, even with my experience or possibly because of it (LOL) the first place I look is the last place I made a change, surprising how many times I was wrong.

          Course people who look everywhere else because they never make mistakes are more of a problem.

          Asking someone to help you should be taught, there’s nothing worse than having someone sit there for two weeks trying to find a fault, because they are scared of looking like a fool.

          How many times, when articulating the problem, have you gone ‘doesn’t matter’ and scuttled off before your chosen helper could realise what an a**e you’ve been for the last two hours.

          The value of bouncing ideas off someone else’s head can’t be under appreciated.

          Getting someone else to solve the problem for you is a different ball game altogether. Probably indicates they are on the wrong course.

    • #3301656


      by cromagnon35 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Some of the most overlooked skills, and those which have helped me a great deal in the field:

      * Research techniques – where/how to find answers
      * Team Building – The whole is greater than the sum
      * Customer Relations – Internal and external, listening and responding are critical
      * Troubleshooting/Critical Thinking – I’m surprised at the number of folks that don’t know where to begin troubleshooting a problem or implementing a project.
      * Flexibility – Think outside the box

      • #3301613

        BAsics ARE Required

        by madsmaddad ·

        In reply to Basic’s

        All of these are required, and ‘taught’ as best they can be, in other units on the course that I teach IT on, like our original questionner. I teach the basic IT (still using NT) so that the students have knowledge of Networks in order to be able to understand how to get them working, and how to build on them. In my follow on unit (final year) They get to design a wide area network, and put together the specification for it, using skills from other units, added to the technical knowledge that I try to guide them into learning. I like to use plenty of external guest speakers from industry.

        This course is under review at the moment, and I am very interesrted in this stream, in order to help me define what I should be teaching in the future. Should I scrap my computer networking lab and just teach ‘soft’ skills?

        • #3346386

          Absolutely not

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to BAsics ARE Required

          All of the soft skills are very important, but they are how and when and where to apply your hard skills. Without the hard skills you are at best an analyst. (not knocking analysts here, but they do not have to be technologists !)

          There is a current trend to buy in hard skills externally and ‘manage’ them internally.

          This trend is what’s being reflected in the thread, the emphasis in our work place is on our soft skills, because in general there is an abundance of people with the hard ones.

    • #3301650

      Skill Sets

      by khyatt ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft Skills
      Communications – every college student should be able to present, share, and listen to ideas. This is the basis for taking concepts, ideas or job assignments and turning them into well thought-out plans and long term objectives.

      Technical Skills
      There are several important areas two of which are knowledge of computer hardware and knowledge of industry architecture. A good knowledge of hardware will help develop troubleshooting skills. In addition, the industry is driven by several major players and it is good practice to develop skills in at least one or more of these areas if possible. It is important for an IT Pro to have a basic understanding of Active Directory or Novell NDS if applicable, networking/LAN, and communications/WAN.

      • #3301641

        Log it all

        by sean® ·

        In reply to Skill Sets

        Just one addition to the lists/suggestions above.

        Log everything.

    • #3301643

      Documentation, Documentation!

      by gigi3115 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I think the number one skill set to teach is good documentation (writing skills), analysis (communication, listening and understanding), and predicting outcomes (solution in production). This applies to any focus of IT, whether programming or supporting and bring in some of the great ideas of the other posts. It can help a new IT person look knowledgeable and experienced! For example, fully document and analyze the assignment or need and expected outcome BEFOREHAND. You need to have, or be given, the user’s expected outcome, the skill sets of the users, other products or systems used, and HOW it will be used as well as the eventual expected outcome. How many times has thousands of dollars been wasted on a great development project, only to find out it’s unuseable because of the end-user’s skill sets, can’t be deployed because of a technicl conflict, or – worst of all – management says it doesn’t work because they didn’t fully explain the need or simply expected a different outcome. It’s our job to ask the questions! And… as far as final documentation, who hasn’t gotten “bit” by doing a super job on something you’re called on to come back and add to, months and months later, and you can’t remember all the details of what you did and why!!

    • #3301640

      Don’t scare the users

      by cmb from omaha ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I believe the most important “soft” skill for IT professionals (and other “resident geeks”) to have is to be approachable. We probably all know some technical person who talks at least a foot over everyone’s head (whether deliberately or not) or makes his/her customers feel as if they are stupid and annoying. (I know, some customers ARE stupid and annoying, but even those deserve to be treated with some measure of respect, as long as they aren’t downright abusive.)

      Having been a boss in a past life, I know that if forced to choose between retaining a know-it-all or a congenial person–even if slightly-less-talented–the person who “plays well with others” would stay, every time.

    • #3301633

      What should I teach

      by ngoodenough ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft Skills
      Interpersonal skills – big subject but in my experience, most successful IT people have been good at this and people ‘stuck in a rut’ haven’t.
      Learn how to learn – accept that, apart from some basic principles, technical skills will need to be almost continuously developed. Make learning new skills a skill in its own right.
      Technical Skills
      Offer specialisms – networking, software development as well as a fundamentals course that describes a generic computer/operating system/application environment.
      Keep away from vendor specific skills. Whilst availability of vendor/product specific materials may seem attractive, they will need to be updated regularly and students will often find these skills out of date by the time they hit the job market.

    • #3301632

      What should I teach

      by ngoodenough ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soft Skills
      Interpersonal skills – big subject but in my experience, most successful IT people have been good at this and people ‘stuck in a rut’ haven’t.
      Learn how to learn – accept that, apart from some basic principles, technical skills will need to be almost continuously developed. Make learning new skills a skill in its own right.
      Technical Skills
      Offer specialisms – networking, software development as well as a fundamentals course that describes a generic computer/operating system/application environment.
      Keep away from vendor specific skills. Whilst availability of vendor/product specific materials may seem attractive, they will need to be updated regularly and students will often find these skills out of date by the time they hit the job market.

    • #3301631

      Some more suggestions

      by lpandelis ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Everyone has good ideas, though most assume you are teaching future IT professionals. Regardless of what level of experience you can assume in your students, they need to learn to read the instructions, navigate the index (hard or soft) understand the jargon, and where to go for answers if they don’t, where to find information when they don’t have the answer (such as TechRepublic), regardless of the hard content of your course. If the students can learn HOW to access and understand the relevant information, they will not be limited by the specific hardware or software they have been using at your college.

      The acceptance that what is learnt in a course is not the end but the beginning of a learning curve that should never end. Some teaching professionals do not realize that they do not have to be god and be omniscient. It does not undermine your authority to acknowledge to your students that one person cannot know everything. On the other had, one hopes that you do know how to find out.

      The other most important thing is to save regularly, regardless of what you are doing.

    • #3301628


      by jessie ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      IMHO, the single most important soft skill is customer service. The most important technical skill is not so much any single piece of information or subject… but where to go to find information… how to do effective internet searches, finding appropriate reference materials.

      The second most important technical skill is the 50/50 troubleshooting method/process of elimination wherein you divide a problem in half, determine which “side” the problem is on, divide that section in half, determine which “side” the problem is on… and so on until you get to where the problem is. For example, Is the problem Hardware or software, (we’ll say it’s software) Then, is the problem OS or Application (we’ll say it’s application) Then, is it a program issue or user error… and so on until you find the answer.

    • #3301624

      Five suggestions for what to teach

      by tmbilld ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The following five suggestions are based on more that 40 years in the IT industry.

      1. Stay flexible. Changes in the technology, paradigms and the buzz words of the latest guru will all impact on the perception of what a good system should contain and how it should be developed. A simple illustration would be all the languages that have burst forth and then faded. (Fortran, Algol, Lisp, Ada, Cobol, C, etc., etc.) Also, business (system) requirements change. A system is created to provide answers to a set of questions. Giving the answers will raise new questions that will want to be answered.

      2. Remember who you are working for. The systems must meet the objectives of the business. (I don?t know of anyone who has made a living writing systems for themselves.) A good system will be tailored for the end user by being as simple to use and fool proof as possible. Provide clear options with extensive help in selecting the options and trap all possible errors. (How many headaches have been caused by the assumption that a message buffer was big enough for all possible messages?)

      3. Realize there are different ways of looking at the same problem. Focusing solely on process analysis, data analysis, or event-transaction analysis to the exclusion of the others will produce different approaches to the same system. The What and Why of a system is much more important than the How, Where or When.

      4. Work hard at being lazy. (The whole concept of object development.) Utilize concepts, techniques, and methods that have been developed before. Do the research on how others have displayed and manipulated the data and adopt the ones that meet the requirements.

      5. Document the development. The first commandment of any developer should be ?Thou shall have pity on those that come after thee.? People change positions and companies very rapidly in today?s environment. Someone else will have to pick up where the person leaving has left off. From a selfish perspective, if you want to make a lasting impression, make sure what you have developed will last.

      Good luck in getting these into a class that meets a few times a week for a few weeks.

    • #3301621

      Teach them to Learn

      by r-2 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Everything you teach now will be invalid within a few years if not a few months. Teaching them to learn new skills and giving them a desire to challenge themselves to keeping their skills current is most critical in this dynamic field.

      As an educator and an employer, I look at my staff and know that those with a craving for knowledge are the ones who will be successful and those who are “along for the ride” are the ones who won’t.

      • #3188088


        by marcey ·

        In reply to Teach them to Learn

        I work with teens and the people who train them…mind if I quote you?

    • #3301619

      “I’m here to make sure you can do your job”

      by scribe6 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      As others have mentioned, the soft skills are often more difficult to learn “on the job” than the technical skills are. The trick is that everyone from the Help Desk dispatcher, if a company happens to use one, through the Help Desk Manager are there to help keep the company running.

      The people that you support need to be treated with respect, even if you don’t feel they deserve it. The last thing anyone wants to hear from their boss is that they’ve had complaints about your attitude, etc. The trick there is to be able to manage expectations, communicate clearly, and be courtesy. You’d be amazed at what a hello in the morning or a check up email can do for relations with even the most hard to please customer.

      The other thing to teach is basic troubleshooting. The MCSE/MCSA/Cisco/Novell certification tracks are for advanced troubleshooting techniques. If you’re just starting out, familiarity with Windows and basic troubleshooting is more helpful.

      Hope this helps.

      • #3301467

        Don’t be Nick Burns

        by cool_breeze ·

        In reply to “I’m here to make sure you can do your job”

        Who remembers the Saturday Night Live series of skits featuring Jimmy Fallon as “Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy”? He’s the ultimate computer geek stereotype, he thinks anyone who doesn’t know as much about IT as he does is a moron. Show your students some of his skits. They are hilarious and emphasize how important “people skills” are. The rest of the company is the IT department’s “customer.” As such, they should be treated with respect, never condescended to, no matter how computer-illiterate someone may be. Communicating with others and treating them with respect will get a lot more cooperation following IT policies and the like than the draconian measures we are alway hearing horror stories about.

    • #3301615

      Important Skills

      by sparker ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      After 20+ years in IT, here’s my 2 cents.
      Soft Skills: Listen to your customers, treat each user as the boss, BE PROFESSIONAL in your attitude.

      Tech Skills: Learn to see problems in context. Diagnose the problem correctly and the solution becomes easy.

    • #3301614

      Critical Thinking, Without a Doubt

      by apultrone ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I also teach computer classes (networking) at a community college. Most importantly, regardless of the curriculum or certification desired, the most important to teach are hands-on, real-world applicable skills. Basic fundamentals and theory should be taught, but most of the theory can be digested from reading once the fundamentals are explained. It’s the hands-on skills that students need to enter the IT world.

      The other important skill, which is much more difficult to teach, is critical thinking/analyzing/troubleshooting, or whatever you want to call it. Rather than be spood fed everything, students need to be able to apply basic knowledge to think through and troubleshoot problems. This type of knowledge is, quite frankly, useful in any work environment, not just computers. But, I find many students do not have the ability or a well-developed ability to effectively analyze a problem and try to figure it out. The look to the instructor for the answer.

    • #3301609

      Essentials for any tech

      by dproske ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Here are the skills I use every day as a tech in no special order:
      Explaining (and I don’t mean in geeky terminology either)
      Training (users and other techs)
      ALso you can never know everyting, but you can know where to find it. You can make someone feel stupid or you can learn something from them and become smart.

      • #3301583

        Maybe not in your classroom…

        by cdsharp ·

        In reply to Essentials for any tech

        Excellent list of soft skills.
        You may not have time to cover these topics in your classroom, but you should provide references to other classes or training materials that cover 1. Effective Communications (Improve listening to hear WHAT the customer wants; be able to express yourself in language any audience can understand – not just other techies.)
        2. Customer Relations (IT is a service-provider, not the ‘reason for being’ in most businesses.)
        3. Effective Presentations / Public Speaking (expand on communications for groups)
        4. Time Management (‘7 Habits’ or another course that deals with planning and prioritizing your workload.)
        5. Introduction to Project Management (a look at the ‘big picture’)
        6. Introduction to Configuration Management (documenting the lifecycle of a product – how did we get here from there?)

        ‘Nuff said.

    • #3301595


      by ddb.mcse ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      In order to be an asset to your organization you must be able to not only communicate with management but also clients. In short, no one wants a wiseguy working on their system. They prefer one that they can feel comfortable talking to about the issue that they are having to ensure that they don’t make the same mistake twice.

      Managers want someone to be able answer the biggest question of all; why? You should be able to explain in a manner that everyone on the management team will be able to understand. It is very important that you be able to convey exactly what you are talking about to everyone.

      Documentation: Key in any organization without it you have no disaster recovery. Every IT personnel should document what they do as they do it. It may take more time but in the end it could be the difference between being employed or unemployed.

    • #3301585

      Some suggestions

      by crawk ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The business of IT is, in the very end, the business of making OTHER people’s jobs easier.

      It requires not only strong general-business skills, but the ability to get along with all sorts of people from bottom to top, the ability to empathize with users and see things from their perspective — oh, yeah, and some technical skills, too — and a sense of complete serendipity to reinvent yourself as the needs and the technologies change.

      The days are over of the bearded, suspendered, sandaled charicature who doesn’t speak humanoid. But this field is (was) exactly suited to the autistics and asperger’ses among us, and will always draw the extremely right-brained types — to whom soft skills do not necessarily come naturally.

      So, ITInstructor, don’t let your young skulls leave your classroom thinking that technical competence is all they need. Look seriously at guiding them toward psychological skills as well. Since those are less likely to come easily for them, it’s more important that they understand why and how to compensate. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “Leadership Out of the Box,” and other books, courses, and self-learning of that breed is not wasted time.

      Writing and language skills — spelling, grammar, usage, writing in comprehensible sentences, explaining technicalese in non-technicalese — are absolutely critical.

      Speaking and/or public speaking doesn’t hurt. Have you ever heard someone with rapidfire speech or very slow speech try to explain something to a novice user, or negotiate a contract? Not a pretty sight!

      A dose of teaching skills can be useful, even if only some basic principals: say-show-say; showfast-showslow-doslow; things like that.

      Negotiation skills can be handy, but make sure they’re based on current relevant principles. “Getting to Yes” is a good primer.

      Personal finance is always a good idea.

      Planning and organizational skills. The principles of project management, especially learning to expect and manage the unknowns and even the unknown unknowns that creep into everything IT does.

      After primary soft skills are well in hand if not yet mastered, a student will understand a little better why things like writing, speaking, business knowledge and MBA-speak are needed. In the meantime, technical skills have been coming along nicely because they’re the easiest to learn.

      As IT continues to mature, it is becoming (excuse me a minute while I put on my flack jacket) just like any other profession. Those who excel in it are those who are the most well-rounded in all aspects of their lives and educations.

      • #3346323

        Wonderful, but mustn’t forget QA

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Some suggestions

        I suppose we all wilfully forgot QA in the hope that it would go away. Would be a good thing to teach, as it’s now unavoidable in any serious environment.

        Try explaining the concept of an unknown unknown to an accountant in your cost justification. Most of the ones I’ve known would be scared right out of their spreadsheet by the concept.


    • #3301577

      Encourage an open mind to IT

      by andy_ch_day ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important soft skills that people in IT need are an innate interest in learning new things throughout their working life, and the development of active listening. The latter unfortunately seems to becoming a rare skill, and is being replaced by increasing levels and depths of prejudice.

      Regarding technical skills, it obviously depends on the needs of the student. But initially they should be encouraged to become as familiar as possible with PCs and the Internet, and then work out from there into their areas of special interest. Client/Server and web based IT are from a commercial point of view currently the most important areas of IT from a business point of view.


    • #3301575

      People skills number one

      by midzonetec ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important soft skill for IT personel are people skills. Being able to listen, understand what the persons requirements are, and then being able to put the solution in terms that the person can understand. The abilty to translate from tech to management is an extremely important and valuable skill.
      On the tech side, be really good in a specific area, but have general knowledge of a large number of areas. Divide you energy accordingly. It takes a lot of energy to stay current in most areas of IT but you have to allow a little time and energy to explore other areas. You need expertise to get and stay hired, but you need a good general knowledge to allow yourself to move latterally as new needs and technology require.

    • #3301572


      by aleksm ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      No kidding – discounting IT Politics and Business politics in general, which is common with technical staff or seeing it as Evil will take nowhere.
      Teach to use Politics to get Business folks to listen to the IT staffers. Make it your stratigic tool in helping business managers to understand the value of technology and its impact on running business.

    • #3301569

      2 Soft Skills

      by tsudohnimh ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      First – TroubleShooting, Logical reasoning, Process of Elimination

      Second – The ability to research the web for technical information

    • #3301562

      Three Key Skills

      by dryflies ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Technical knowledge of Computer systems goes without saying. That is an essential skill that you cannot do without. I would focus on the three key skills that can make an IT professional more successful than their peers: The ability to explain a technical issue to a non-technical person without talking down to them. The ability to learn new technology on the fly without taking training courses. And the ability to take an unsolvable problem and break it down into its solvable sub problems. I am not sure if that last skill can be taught, many peope just call it “the knack”

    • #3301556

      People Skills!

      by scrammaster ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      As one of my first IT managers said, “You can get a monkey and teach it how to change a keyboard or install an application, but you can’t teach a monkey how to interact with people”. From experience, they fire the folks without people skills first when downsizing.
      Granted, you can’t leave a void where the Tech side should be, but that can always be grown. The best recommendation for the Tech side is to expose them to the vast array of IT and inspire curiosity. That will both help them figure out what they like to do within IT (networking, programming, administration), and let them take the wheel of their career.

    • #3301543

      Jack of all Trades? – Not!

      by hombresito ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I, along with two others in the IT group, manage a small network of about 200 PCs and 20 Servers and have done so for the last seven years. We do everything; programming, security, account management, performance monitoring, website management, you name it – yes, we’re Jacks of all Trades. Recently, our company went out and had a survey done. Later, they called us in and explained to us that we aren’t as valuable as those at the main office because we don’t specialize in any one thing, thus unworthy to be classified as expert or professional in any one thing. Therefore, the IT personnel at the main office merit a higher salary (please note that they have apprx 90 people, we have three – a big difference, they can afford to specialize, we can’t).

      My point being….specialize and become expert in one, maybe two fields and you’ll will be worth more to your company and thus merit a higher salary.

      As for which field pays the higher salary, my experience tells me that programming pays higher than administering a network and definitely more than a hardware repair guy. Or, get a degree in IT management and bypass the lower levels of IT all to gether and start at the top.

      As for soft skills, it’s paramount that you have good communication skills, staying cool under stress, listening, patient, positive, kind, and happy. People will always call on a person with these qualities even if his skills are less than the others. In most instances, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I know, it’s corny, but it’s true.

    • #3301540

      Organization Skills

      by pmwpaul ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Teach technical organization skills; How to set priorities, crisis management and delegating tasks. 90% of IT is mundane and 10% is challanging. Teach how to handle this environment.

      “If you don’t know what you’re doing, why are you doing it?” Technical Support question.

    • #3301535

      And some more

      by johnm ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      There are a lot of good ideas expressed here (and I haven’t checked every one of them) but there is always more.

      On the soft side, it is important to know that there is more than one valid way of thinking. Too many techs think that their logic process is the only correct way to think and that anyone who doesn’t get what they say is stupid. I used to make my most outspoken techs read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” because they had not been exposed to alternate logic systems.

      Once you believe that others are not stupid but just don’t put things together like you do, it becomes possible to really listen to what they are saying. And then, you may find out what the problem with the equipment (or user) is. And how to explain it to them in a way they understand. And how to avoid offending them. It makes for a better workplace.

      On the hardware side, problem isolation is paramount, as others have said. Intelligent reduction beats parts swapping almost every time. And, if parts swapping is used, there is a time to stop. I had some good techs convert one bad mainframe into two trashed mainframes because they kept moving a board that would blow the input circuit on the following board in the chain.

      A little humility and recognition of where you went wrong goes a long way.

      I was a tech once and didn’t know any of the above, did some admin (where I learned it), and am teching again. I have better rapport with the clients than ever before.

    • #3301529

      Most Important Skill to me

      by davevw ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I would have to say people skills. If you can’t talk to a person and figure out what they want, how can you ever fix it. There is another tech guy here who has no communication skills, and he just makes things the way he thinks they should be. He should find out how the person wants it to be and make it work for them not for himself.
      Always listen first.

    • #3301528

      Soft skills – Decision making, collaboration and negotation

      by johshe ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I believe the three keys to a succesful IT employee are the ability to define a problem and systematically decide (Universal Steps for Decision Making is a good tool) on how to fix the problem, ability to collaborate with co-workers of various backgrounds and ethnicities and negotiation skills. If you can master these three areas, and have the people skills to be able to get things done, I would want you in my organization.

    • #3301526

      do a few things well within a broader context

      by pmoleski ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The IT field is vast with many possible career paths. I expect that a course from a community college would cover a few specific areas that would allow the gradaute to get a job and be useful right out of school. The areas you pick would depend on demand in your geographical area and also on your own expertise.

      However, this focus on immediate employment has a long term draw back. One weakness I often see coming out of small schools is that the graduates end up stalled in their career because the training is so focused the students have a hard time moving beyond the narrow area of their training and often do not understnad or even realize that the IT area is much broader then what they get training for.

      If time permits in your course beyond the core topics I think it would help your students to have some broader context to see how their specific skills fit into the broader IT picture. This will out them understand how they fit in with their first jobs and also to help plan their careers later on.

      The first are I would cover is on the whole systems devleopment methodology. Provide the basic defintions starting from business process design through requirements, design, devleopment, testing , etc. This way the graduate will see how they will be part of a team where many things have to come together to produce a system.

      The second topic I would cover is technical architecture. What are all the things that have to be in place for the both the desktop enivironemt and a systems development environment to be able to function? Basics that come to mind for topics to be covered are desktop, networks, file servers, the intratent/Internet, application servers, databse servers, development environments, and the mutlilayered security that ties it all togehter.

      The last area I would cover is an over view of operational processes that are needed to tie everything together and make the whole IT shop work.

      In all three areas keep the depth very light as to how much is covered on any topic. What we are looking at is to provide a highlevel road map. This will improve your students team work ability in a large organization, their problem solving skills by understanding the larger picture, and perhaps give them a bit of a survival blueprint if they end up being in a small or one person shop where there are not others around to teach them the larger picture.

    • #3301507

      Future employability vs immediate gain

      by reflecting on history ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Seems to me, as adjunct faculty teaching in IT, the most critical IT skills are a combination of soft and hard. Let me explain. Technical (hard) skills are in constant flux. They are changing all of the time as technology shifts. Expectation for a professional set of skills gets modified to meet these new requirements. Over a period of 5 years, hot technical skills become routine and transition from ?new wave? to routine and/or commodity. Thus identifying a specific hard skill or skill set is a never ending task providing little success or stability over the years.

      Soft skills are also extremely important and change little. Training in how to communicate effectively, when to engage management in non-productive activities, and/or what types of situations require which motivational technique will always be worth learning. Training in these areas helps us to grow personally and professionally, thus they are lifelong learning. As such they do not generally, in my opinion, fall into the category of ?IT technical skills?.

      Long term trends indicate, to those people watching, that technical skills will always be needed, but they will quickly become commodities to be moved out of a company – unless they are core competencies. This means to the university instructor that the best benefit to the student is to integrate ?hard and soft skills? if the focus is long term employability of the student rather than immediate and short term gain. (This was not clear from the question.)

      Therefore, the student needs to understand the structures that require both types of learning ? a meta understanding of technology. A solid understanding of hard skills can be gained from taking and being competent in any number of hard skill areas: programming, system administration, network management, etc. These will form a base that can always be counted on to allow entry into technical discussions, even if the particular skill set is not known ? as a practitioner. (He or she understands the principles and precepts of the discussion.)

      This leads to the actual course content. The most helpful, for long range employability, is a set of classes in systems analysis and product lifecycle management. Whatever the future technical management requirements, the techie who has a solid grasp on these skills will always stand out from the crowd and be a huge asset in any technical development or maintenance project. He or she can always pickup a techie course to update the skill base, update people skills, or even update product lifecycle management changes. But without the initial background there will be no stability upon which to build for the future.)

    • #3301506


      by billbohlen@hallmarkchannl ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Working in IT for the last 10 years, I feel the most important skill bar none is ATTENTION TO DETAIL. Especially now with Sarbanes-Oxley and other reporting requirements.

    • #3301486

      Pay attention to people skills

      by gaston nusimovich ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I think you should care about people skills. How to be and feel a part of a team, how to care for the team efforts, goals, values, and members, within the broader scope of company goals and values.

      These themes are always important and hot topics for training courses.

      Good luck.

    • #3301482

      Don’t forget the importance of software knowledge . . .

      by realme ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      As a departmental I.S. Specialist, I’m going to say something that most technical computer people don’t want to hear: the importance of having at least a basic knowledge of the software applications used at your employer’s site. I know too many I.T. people that, when posed a “how do I” or “why isn’t it doing this right” question, are not only completely lost, but get even down-right rude about “why am I being asked this question about lowly software.” It never hurts to have as much training as possible in any kind of application software. I’ve found that many of the issues that I am challenged with on a daily basis revolve around the software my clients are using, not necessarily the network or PC. Most employers are actually looking for someone with “well-rounded” knowledge unless you are getting into a higher-level, network administration type classification, you will be dealing with every day users that are going to call you with these types of issues. Having this knowledge never hurts.

    • #3301478

      Expectations & Limitations

      by rogerinpa ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Very briefly, two things…

      Understand what the person who signs your check expects from you. You need to be able to live up to those expectations, or consider looking for a job that is within your current abilities.

      Train well and be as organized and methodical as possible, but know your limitations. No one knows everything about everything. Maintain support groups and contacts, and most of all, know when it is time to ask for help.

    • #3301475

      It’ll take more than just two skills, but…

      by blueknight ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      It’ll take more than just two skills, but since you asked for two, I’ll try to whittle them down.

      The starting list of skills:
      1) Communication (with emphasis on listening, and actually hearing what the user is requesting, describing or complaining about).
      2) Persistence – when working on a problem, keep at it until it’s resolved… and don’t be afraid to ask one of your peers to assist, even if it’s for a “sanity check” on something.
      3) Integrity – If you screw up, take ownership – DO NOT point fingers at others. Admit your mistake. Be honest and genuine with everyone.
      4) Love to learn – This is more intrinsic, but it’s the only way you can keep up with technology.
      5) Learn the business processes – you’ll understand users better, you’ll be much better prepared to solve problems and you’ll be able to design better systems – particularly where it relates to logic, which has to be absolutely clear.
      6) Make sure your testing and implementation do not adversely affect the users. Do your development and testing in a TEST environment. When you’re happy with the product, have the users test it in a QA environment. Once they’re happy, then, and only then, move it into the PRODuction environment. Implement a good change management strategy and do not deviate from it.

      That’s enough for starters, there are many other basic things that need to be taught. I would have added teach them to be logical, but in my experience, people either are logical thinkers, or they’re not… you can’t teach it 🙁

      From the list above, I’d say that the two most important are Communication and Learn the business processes.

    • #3301473

      Interacting with users

      by michelle.reavis ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I really appreciate all the wonderful points of view. I am building an IT career path document, and the insight in all replies is a terrific resource. I echo most technical and soft/people/communication comments (I call those Organizational Skills), and would add:
      Expectation management – As one person said, ?IT is just a tool.? We can’t do everything. Be clear about what a technology / solution can — and cannot — do for the user.
      Communication Point of View – Always explain solutions from the user’s point of view, “Mr.(Ms.) User, this __ will help you to … .”
      Conflict management – Because IT enables users — people, conflict is inevitable. See conflict as a good thing; use it as a way to improve operations and communication.
      Politics – Organizations are political in nature. Know how your organization operates: Who reports to whom? Who in the organization influences decision makers [other managers, outside advisors, etc.]? What are the NO-GO words [in our company, the “S” word [Server – as in we need a new one / another one] that must be used with extreme caution?
      How to be a follower / team member – No one, not even a CIO / CTO, is a leader all the time! To be a good leader, you must be a good follower. Others must be able to trust your technical skill. They must be able to count on you to do what you say you will when you say it will be done. You must support the decision(s) of the leader(s) with respect and cooperation.
      THANKS to all! m

    • #3301470

      People skills

      by zentross ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      In order to really understand the needs of the customer, we have to have patience to listen through their lengthy stories. We also need proper listening, and questioning skills. Customers don’t have patience for someone who doesn’t appear to take them seriously and won’t return if your questions seem demeaning or obvious probes for proof of idiocy.

      That said the ability to remain flexible in a constantly changing field along with a drive to never stop learning are invaluable as well.

      Just remember : Our job is about people and helping them to do their job!

    • #3301461

      Foundations and reasons

      by ultra_blue ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?


      When teaching IT folks who are moving along to an intermediate or advanced level, I always stress that they need to know how things work. No longer can they rely on a few tricks or heuristics to buoy them. So, teach as much background as you can.
      One analogy that I use is that of a race-car driver as opposed to a commuter driver. I say something like:
      When you’re driving your own car to work, to the store, etc, you don’t need to know much about how the car works — just knowing that it needs gasoline, air, water, etc. is probably enough.
      But now you’re entering into a different realm — like a race-car driver, you need to know how your system works, why things fail, and how to work around *and* repair things — on the fly. You’re own experience is your best tool here — don’t be afraid to haul out your war stories — just don’t over do it.
      In addition, I emphasize that people skills are essential to career development; in this case, leading by example is the best way to go.


    • #3301440

      A couple of areas…

      by it_techie_guy ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Along with the tech course’s, you should also make them take business. As it has already been said in here, A major in a tech skills and a minor in business. They will help the student in the real world.

    • #3301438


      by dc_guy ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Several others have mentioned communication skills. I specifically single out writing because it’s not being taught well in the university system. I’m constantly receiving documents written by MBAs and even PhDs, and sometimes I honestly can’t figure out what they’re trying to say.

      We once let a guy go because his writing was so bad that nobody could even edit it. (Unfortunately he got a job with the government.)

      There’s an inexorable trend toward requiring more documentation on information systems; it simply isn’t 1968 any more. The time will come when people who can’t write intelligibly about what they do will not get the best jobs.

    • #3301434

      Other Duties as Assigned

      by xina45 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I just recently finished my degree after working in IT for quite a while, besides all of the “technical-type” classes the one course that I didn’t want to take, but has served me well for “having to” take it was a course in critical thinking and problem solving. It reminds me to take a breath/minute/hour/day, whatever is necessary/appropriate to really solve a problem. At times we have to troubleshoot from the hip and that is fine, but not everything is solved with a reboot! 😉

      But the one issue I see quite a bit with workers is they forget that they work for the entire organization not just their department and their individual projects. So, when an task that is outside of THEIR norm comes along, they baulk. Sometimes, you just have to put on a different hat!

    • #3301430

      What should I teach

      by gdent ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Students come in all sizes, shapes and places on the learning curve. Continuing education IT classes often have students with a broad spectrum of computer experience and skills. Keeping the course description focused and enforcing realistic experience and skills prerequisites can be very helpful for all who enroll. In the end, what an instructor knows is not important – what students gain in knowledge and skills after having gone through the training is critical. Teach your students what they need to learn to be efficient, effective, and more productive in their jobs and to earn more money. Getting along with other people and focusing energies on work related priorities during the entire business day are highly prized. Empower your students to do as much as they can on their own. But don’t teach skills that can jeopardize the security of networks and data unless you are training IT specialists who have a need to know. IT people need to understand and appreciate the various personality profiles of others – The DISC or Myers Briggs may help enlighten them. Have someone come to the first class and administer the instrument. It will help tie the class together and you can weave it in throughout the course. or

    • #3318556

      The skills I’m looking for…

      by jtakiwi ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The ability to correctly identify the problem. Solving that problem is almost as valuable. If you can successfully teach those skills and the complimentary skills to attain that goal, you’re ahead of 99% of the teachers out there.

    • #3318554

      Teach them to write

      by jdaughtry9 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      See the Joel On Software column for discussion of this topic. His first two items make your list:
      Non-technical – learn how to write well
      Technical – learn C – yes, plain old C

    • #3318545

      True “basics” get overlooked

      by best_tech ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I have found, working with both software & hardware “gurus” — and particularly with program/system designers and coders — that the biggest mistake in their thinking is overlooking *my* first rule:

      What _IS_ it doing, not what do you think is it “supposed” to be doing …
      What do you WANT it to do, not what “changes” do you think you want …

      Those two rules can be applied from the power plug all the way to a complete corporate-wide system.

      I’m currently advising a development group that I had to convince to “let go of” the beta version so “strangers” could do the testing. Coders are the worst beta testers of their own software … because 99.9% of the time they cannot implement the “what is” due to the “what’s supposed to be” in their own product being too deeply ingrained in their minds.

      In the past one collaborator and I used a “computer savvy” 4th grader to do the beta testing, and he was given orders to do his best to crash the software … As a consequence, when we passed over the finished version, the client had little to do besides doing a final install on their systems and tweaking a few text areas in forms.


    • #3318535

      Basic network troubleshooting and project management

      by dsmith ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      If you are dealing with folks who do not know anything about networking or computing teach em the basics of electronic troubleshooting and project management.

      Basic Troubleshooting:
      Is it plugged in?
      Is it turned on?
      Is there any signal?
      Got link?
      Got an IP?
      Is it the right cable?
      How to make and test a patch cable. Both straight through and crossover.
      How to use ipconfig and ifconfig
      How to use ping, tracert, and nslookup
      How to set up and use a router
      Using DHCP
      How to set up and use a switch

      Do not start with the OSI model. You will spend a lot of time for very little result. Bring that in a bit later.

      Project managment basics:
      1) Concept definition
      2) Specifications and feature list agreement
      3) Design
      4) Test
      5) Implement

      Repeat this process at each stage as the target will move as the project progresses.

      After the students get the basics of how to figure out just what kind of network they want to build and making it work you can lead em to things like setting up servers, security and performance optimization. Each one of these advanced aspects of networking are a complete subject unto themselves.

      Back to lurkin


    • #3318507

      Listening listening listening

      by jennyn ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      did I mention listening?
      (Which is what you are doing by posting this question!! well done! – it will probably be a very interesting class as a result)

      If you can listen to and understand what the users are asking, and then apply your tech knowledge to that, you’ll be a successful (& popular) support tech.

      If you can listen to and understand what the organization is trying to do, and apply your technical knowledge to that, you will forever be coming up with creative projects that further the business needs and thereby make you a little bit less despensible than average techies.

      I would never have done a business minor as some suggested… too boring! But listening to users & managers and trying to undestand how they work and why, just using common sense, and then applying the technology to improving systems, has enabled me to apply my tech knowledge to a wide range of sectors and have a career through booms & busts.

      For example, if you’ve listened to a client who can’t get the hang of something basic, instead of seeing a stupid user, you may see a training need that perhaps extends beyond that person… a potential project! Perhaps you see a need for technical competencies for use in HR recruitment – someone has to come up with them … there’s a project.

    • #3318474

      Continual self assessment, vision, communicate and being productive

      by james.chau ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important value of an IT professional is her ability to produce professional results as required by the clients. You should teach this concept to your students professionalism is not much more than that.

      In order to achieve that, you need to :

      1. Know your own strengths and weakness. Are you a strong programmer or business analyst ? Do you and can you excel in what areas ? Do not go for “hot” skills if you can’t stomach them.

      2. Know what kinds of industries you want to have a career at. Behind every industry there is a set of technologies and disciplines, whether they are art or science related. Learn which industries suit you best and learn their best practises before you pick up these technologies and disciplines. A medical IT professional should not immerse herself with automotive best practises.

      3. Do not think or act like a nerd. There was a mentality that IT folks are nerdy, why ? teach your students that nerds are never professional in any field, teach them to communicate clearly, precisely and effectively, just like any other profession.

      4. Establish a network early in life. Don’t think that networking doesn’t begin early, they do ! Teach your students to start looking out for their career early in life and help them along in establishing what, where, and how to look from their first day in class, or out of class.


    • #3318446

      Being methodical and practical

      by mandrake64 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Over the last 20 years working in IT, I have never departed far from taking a methodical approach to both problem solving and systems development. So teaching people to think logically may help.
      The specific language and environment skills will ever be changing and seem to be changing at an ever increasing rate. Here, people need the ability to review the market and make a sensible prediction of the skills they need to acquire to obtain and maintain employment. There are still niche areas in IT that people can slot into and stay in for many years. These focus more on being a subject matter expert, with good practical ability to turn domain knowledge into real world solutions.

    • #3318438

      I agree with a lot of what I’ve read — another teacher weighs in

      by wilchv ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I haven’t time to peruse all of the replies to the original question — I’ve read over 70, though. I have taught at the community college level over six years after 20+ years of industry experience and I continue part-time in both areas. I love what a number of you have said about business-sense and business-savvy — I feel completely validated in my approach, although I have felt somewhat isolated in my department. I personally had a business undergraduate minor and went on to acquire an MBA because I found the business knowledge so valuable. I find that the average student feels that they will be programming computer games or working for Microsoft, so they have no need to be bothered about pesky business problems. They have NO concept about the number of computer professionals working for businesses. In any intro to info technology courses that I teach, I try to deal with this by having the students go to a business that uses computers and having them write a paper about what they learn by interviewing the company’s people.

      I also wish to stress my agreement with those who stressed concepts and flexibility over specific skills. What I tell any student who will listen is that they may need specific skills to get the first job, but after that, their ability to keep that job and move on to another depend on their ability to learn and adapt. I personally have learned about five computer languages — and only two of those in college (only one of which I ever used on the job). What got me through is the general thinking skills that I learned. So, for instance, when I teach an If statement in a programming class, I emphasize that once you’ve learned how one If statement works, you’ve basically learned it for any computer language (only the statement formatting differs) — emphasizing the basic logic, not the formatting for a specific language.

      A couple of things that I have not seen mentioned so far are just making sure that they complete assignments on time and to specifications — students are VERY lax in this (particularly at the community college level, but perhaps not). In grading, I try to differentiate between minor requirements and major ones — I just take a couple of points for not doing minor one properly, but serious points for not doing major ones properly. Also, if they can at least get it to work properly to specifications, but it’s not done efficiently or well, I give them the 100, but write down how they could have done it better as a example. I personally allow students to turn in assignments late (accidents and life do interfere sometimes), but with late point penalties that are designed to not hurt the good student that has something happen, but pile up to really penalize the bad student who is consistently late (five points per class period late).

      Second, perhaps since I’ve been in this business so long, I also try to emphasize a sense of history so that when they work at the company that still has a hierarchical database instead of a relational one, they have some understanding about why — and also what a hierarchical one is. Too much of the college curriculum is focussed on what is hot and not on what is out there really. So, when I instruct a course on databases or an intro to info technology, I throw in as much of a background as I can.

      • #3345872

        Interested reader

        by andy_ch_day ·

        In reply to I agree with a lot of what I’ve read — another teacher weighs in

        I noticed that you moved into teaching from within the IT industry. This is something I am looking into myself at the moment, and would appreciate any advice you can give me on how best to go about it.


        • #3328391

          how I sequed into teaching

          by wilchv ·

          In reply to Interested reader

          Sorry for the delay, I don’t check these posts often.

          Basically, the difficulty of switching amounts to the same difficulties of switching between any careers, plus a few more for the teaching area specifically.

          You have to decide at what level you want to teach (high school or college; if college, 2-year or 4-year) and learn what the credentials required are. In my area (NY), in order to teach at the high school level in a public school, you have to be certified. I found that I would need a master’s degree in my area (which I had) and 12 graduate-level credits in education courses (which I didn’t have) to be certified. Private schools don’t have to require certification, but public schools pay better than private. Any college will let you teach at least part-time with a master’s degree in the appropriate area. Four-year colleges like Ph.D. degrees, particularly for full-time positions if they are accredited or want to be. So, with a master’s and no education credits, my best option was to try 2-year colleges. In my experience in my area, private 2-year colleges don’t pay well and public community colleges pay much better, but it can be difficult to find a full-time position. Because they’re publicly funded, full-time positions in general are scarce (part-time people are cheaper) and the bureaucracy is what you would expect of a local government-run organization.

          What I did is that I began part-time at a private college, getting experience, went full-time there for a brief period, then managed to get in part-time at my local community college. At this point, I earn part-time only slightly less than what I earned full-time at the private college.

          So, what I would suggest is first determining at what level you want to teach. If high school, find out the requirements — call the human resources department at your school district. If college, call the department chair of the appropriate department and talk to them. If it’s a computer science department, the student numbers are down slightly recently. They may or may not need you, depending on your specific skill set. If not, be patient and keep in touch.

          Second, try teaching first at least part-time before you completely commit yourself. It’s not for everyone. It can be difficult to explain the topics if you aren’t used to it and some of the students can really try your patience. Personally, I had done customer support and training, so had some experience explaining how computer systems worked and patience with users. It was still a transition period working with students, however.

          If you anything further specific that this doesn’t address, please feel free to contact me directly at my listed e-mail address.

      • #3344889

        Tardiness costs

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to I agree with a lot of what I’ve read — another teacher weighs in

        Good one, I’ve done a fair bit of mentoring of graduates and trying to get them to understand what the priority was, is very hit and miss. Had one spend two out of the three days allocated designing bitmaps for his buttons, every time I’d asked him how it was going, he told me, ‘Brilliant’, so I learnt a lesson there too as well. Now I’m never too busy to take the time to make sure they’ve understood what I want.

        • #3328389

          reply to tardiness costs

          by wilchv ·

          In reply to Tardiness costs

          Yes, I’ve learned a lot about how to teach since starting! Some students find it very difficult to focus, read thoroughly, test thoroughly, etc., etc. Since I’m at a 2-year school and always dealing with the freshman/sophomore level, just getting some of them to do a project to specifications and on time can be a learning process for some of them. Some are used to high schools where they’re more closely watched than at the college level and have to adjust.

        • #3327667

          Had that problem myself

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to reply to tardiness costs

          Toss it off for two weeks, assignment due in tomorrow. Pull sicky, wonder why no one believes you, when you hand in a piece of mis-spelled garble on Modnay. LOL
          Good job there wasn’t a probationary period in college.

          Good thing to teach, If you don’t finish, we can adjust, if you don’t start, we will adjust.

          In UK schools you rarely got anything that took more than a lesson and maybe homework. Except if school equipment was required. Be a good adjustment that. Especially if they had to plan it first and then document how the plan worked out.

    • #3318432

      3 critical skills

      by numbat ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I’m an IT operations manager, and the three skills I have found critical, in order of importance, are:

      Technical Knowledge

      I have had techs on site whose technical knowledge was superb, and communication skills non-existent. They soon get replaced.

      If I don’t know what the techs are doing, I can’t do my job, and no amount of technical knowledge will do if you can’t communicate with the decision makers.

    • #3318425

      People skills

      by zlitocook ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I have been in IT for a few years and alot of other people related jobs before that. I have been in alot of migrations upgrades ect with other computer consultants. A one thing thats vary hard to teach or train others is treat others better then you treat your self. I have worked with younger techs with great skill but bad user interaction. And guess who they called back for the next upgrade? Its great to know what your doing but what good is that if you do not get called back.

    • #3318417

      Best Skills To Have

      by logos-systems ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      For Soft Skills Communication is at the top of the list. This includes, written, oral, and also public speaking/presentation.

      For technical skills, I would have to say is the ability to visualize the software/object architecture. Languages come and go; but the ability to visualize the architecture will always be there.

    • #3318404


      by joe g ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I need to work with both management and staff on a smallish (70 staff PCs and about 120 public machines) local government network. I’m sure that if you asked either side why they value me the answer would be basically the same. I can explain technical jargon to my non-technical managers in a manner that they can understand. That helps them look smart in front of their bosses and also helps me when I go to them with proposals that will cost them money. I do the same with general users. They appreciate it for another reason. They don’t feel that they are being talked down to and they understand better what I am saying to them than somebody that speaks techno-babble to them.(Yes. They’ve had to face that too.) This also benefits me in that I can occassionally tell them; “Because I said so.” when the situation is too complicated and/or crucial to take the time out and they trust me.

    • #3318402

      Occam’s Razor

      by al k ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      named after William of Occam. Given a choice between two explanations, choose the simplest — the explanation which requires the fewest assumptions. I.E. Look for the obvious first.

    • #3318399


      by bluefilly ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      knowing the capabilities of software, rather than focusing on the ‘how’. knowing you can look it up in the Help files, internet pages, manuals, etc. eg knowing Word can do mail merge, rather than knowing all the steps involved in every merge type.

    • #3318370

      Significant IT Talent ?

      by firestorm ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Best tool to have in the industry is having both software skills and technical skills, generally, they both coincide with one another, but the further question should be ” What is your contribution and how do you plan to contribute?”, majority, people go for software others go for technicals, whether your a programmer, web designer, a technician or a software engineer, in the case of what is in it for IT your skills should always be the one you enjoy the most, as per calculations, 60% should the one you are most talented and 30% is the one you are dragging along and 10% is for relaxing….

    • #3318369

      Both IT and business skills required

      by it-analyst ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I am an MBA and an MCA. Depending upon the goal of student he/she can give importance to what should be done.
      Given that you are teaching IT people I think Both IT and business skills required.I started with programming.Knowledge of 1 good OS,Language, database and internet technology is good to take you far enough.As one progress higher onto the corporate ladder its more of management skills thats required.
      Give them a vision of what is expected of them and how they should go about it.

    • #3318368


      by oz_media ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Teach them how to job hunt!

      This sire is FULL of highly skilled and often overtrained people who just can’t find work, in many cases due the lack of job hunting skills or knowledge of how to cold call, mine and prospect local businesses.

    • #3318350

      Communication and ability to simplify

      by wolseym ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Communication, both written and oral, is essential. Also, one should be able to simplify what he communicates, so that he can be understood with minimal effort. Many times we see people with incredible knowledge but unable to communicate what they know, and thus rendering the knowledge useless. Use simple language, not jargon, is one way to win this ‘non-communicate’ battle.

    • #3318334

      At all costs, keep a cool head

      by paulod ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      At all costs, keep a cool head, and rember, the hurridier I go the behinder I get.

    • #3318317

      Interpersonnel Skills

      by yanipen ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Soorry for the late reply. I guess you might not read this but I am posting anyway.

      A warning though, you might think that I am conceited in a sort of a way. Pardon me. So, here goes…

      Soft skill and Tech skill are important. True to the letter. A lot of them guys has certs to back them up. A lot of them guys mastered the book, but only few, very few, can really relate. Really.

      I remember RnRKid a few months ago (that was last year) saying that you have to master the book. (RnRKid opened a thread of discusion, about ethics and things like that. I told him that he has no idea what he is talking about……sort of)

      Back to the present….. It is good to have Soft Skills and Tech Skills, plus experience. It is good to have mastered the book. One question, though: Can you get it out and share the knowledege? Ha!

      A lot of them guys know these from end to end, but does not know how to express themselves. Can you honestly open up a conversation to any person that comes your way, honestly? That is my suggestion to you. With everything has said and done about skills, without this thing called interpersonnel skills, you just might end up in a corner to yourself.

      Hey, is my spelling correct?

      The world is colorful, not just black and white. It is a good thing you have skills, but it will be better if you can communicate effectively.

      And yeah, I too possess Soft and Tech Skills, but i have one added bonus, and that is I have no problems relating and talking to people. At first, I did not know this. I though, it just enough, Soft and Tech Skills, until some of my custumers (then) told me that they liked me because I can relate to them. I can speak to them and explain very well. I dont know what to say first, but I thanked them anyway from their obsevation about me.

      I hope this helps.

    • #3318276


      by dtrivison ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Anyone who aspires to a technical career needs to be able to see the difference between a backslash and a forward slash. Many people can’t do that. Kind of like, can you roll your tongue or not.

    • #3318247

      Soft Skill and Technical Skill

      by jrisner ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Besides having a positive personality, the most important soft skill to have is the ability to handle stress. I have worked in IT for a while now and everywhere I have ever been IT is considered a necessary evil and whenever anything goes wrong IT is to blame. When everything is going right there are usually no pats on the back. When things go wrong you better duck. The most important technical skills would be MS Server 2003 skills, Unix, Linux, or programming exp.

    • #3346634

      Matching the right Technology to the organization

      by timnash ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Most businesses are small to medium and must rely mostly on COTS type products (hardware and software). Those companies large enough to employ an IT person or staff, must be able to MATCH the IT needs to the company. This does not necessarily mean go out and purchase the latest and greatest technology available. Rather, match the needs of the organization and skill levels of the personnel to the tasks at hand. Again, consideration has to be given to the level of IT saviness of the organizational leaders and their suborinates. The latest technology may not be the best.

    • #3346620


      by oldmainframer ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important technical skill is knowing your technology throughly. Know what it CAN and maybe more importantly CAN’T do. This knowlege will help you to develop appropriate solutions – and more importantly – solve problems when they come up.

      THE most important soft skill is COMMUNICATION. Whoever your user is – talk with them all the time. Get inside their head – know what they want. Make sure that they know what you are doing, what your status is, etc. When you make a promise – be sure to deliver on it.

      A throughough understanding of the BUSINESS side of what you are doing will take you a long way. Knowing how to read a file/database and display it on a screen is only PART of the job. Knowing WHY the user needs it and WHAT business problem they want to solve will take you a long way.

    • #3346455

      Documentation and debugging skills

      by gthornton ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      When we are in the middle of solving a problem we tend to think that we will remember this in the future given that we are sweating blood at the moment. The problem is the problem may not show up again for 6 months to a year. Document as you go. Then the next time… It is also a great CYA.

      Debugging is the other key. Make sure you are solving the real problem, not the sympton.

      Know where to go for help. On-line documentation FAQs, tek-tips, etc. and your NOTES OF PREVIOUS PROBLEMS. You did document them didn’t you?

    • #3346450

      Reply To: What Should I Teach?

      by imb ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I believe that hardware and networking skills are extemely
      important. it is important to teach values as well.
      The value of doing the best job that you can do.
      The value of admitting that you don’t know everything
      The value of following rules and regulations. The value of
      trouble shooting and doing the necessary reseach before
      rushing headlong into a job.
      there are a host of other related things that are just as important

    • #3346438

      Teamwork & interpersonal

      by ksodipo ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      IT personnel should think as business manager, interpersonal & team working is very important due to fact that we are not used to working with many people. Negotiation skill will be ok as you move higher in the ladder. I am afraid, we are all guilty of documentation but it is important

    • #3346304

      Basic Troubleshooting

      by rocknrobin53 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Please teach your students basic troubleshooting skills, ie: deleting tmp files, temporary internet files, scan disk, defrag, update virus dats, patches – I have worked with many entry level people who do not know that they should try the above things when a system is slow or a user has printing issues.

    • #3346299

      From many of the posted responses, looks like the course is 12-years long

      by james.chau ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      …if not longer. I think you cannot teach a student how to be a professional since most clients are very unique. An IT professional would generally need at least 3 or 4 sets of inter-related skill sets and experiences just to survive on top of a continual need to re-educate herself. One of the key for employment is actual work experience and that cannot be taught at school unless the school itself is a business entity such as IBM or Microsoft. Best of luck.

    • #3346048

      Still Another Vote for Soft Skills

      by vozniakd ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      The most important skills that you can teach future or current IT professionals are those involving Customer Service.

      Make sure that they clearly understand that the customer/client/end-user is the *reason* for them having a job ? not an inconvenience to their job. IT is a service.

      How to Deal with difficult people ? any IT person will eventually run into an angry customer or an unpleasant co-worker and it takes skill to deal with both, they’ll also run into panicked people, confused people, etc and they need to know how to deal with all of them without losing their tempers, getting sarcastic or being just plain nasty.

      How to listen and hear what is being said ? many IT professionals tend to assume that they know more than their customers and their bosses, and don’t really listen to what they are being told.

      How to ask questions ? this is critical and goes with listening and hearing what is said, IT people need to know how to ask the questions that get them the answers they need, especially from non-technical people.

      How to write clearly and logically (Grammar is especially important!) ? Very few things are more annoying than an adult professional who writes confusing, unstructured, misspelled reports and memos, misuses words, or who clearly has no concept of proper grammar and punctuation.

      Proper phone and email etiquette ? simple things like how to answer the phone in a professional manner, how and when to leave voicemail, when to page someone and when not to, how to write a useful email, when not to use email, and most important, things not to say in email or voicemail.

      How to make presentations ? at some point everyone will have to make presentations on something and most IT people don’t have the skills to develop and present a good presentation.

      And probably most important: Diversity ? how to deal with people of different cultures, religions and genders. It is a small world today, and we often work with people from a variety of backgrounds. Understanding their backgrounds makes for a much more effective and pleasant work environment. Also, diversity training tends to make people more patient when dealing with non-native speakers of their language.

      As for technical skills, a broad overview of all facets of IT. My company developed a program called Knowledge Builder that was designed to ensure that all of our IT staff had the same basic understanding of IT. It was mandatory for all IT personnel and included extensive three day classes in networking, telecommunications, web design and development, program development, and finished with a Capstone Case Study in which students worked as a team to show what they had learned by developing a network plan, identifying the needed components, pricing them out and presenting the plan to management. One team from each class was chosen to also make their presentation to IT Senior Management ? which could include the CIO, the VP of IT, and various IT organizational Directors ? who gave their feedback to the team. This kind of broad overview of the components of ITS ensures that everyone one understands (at least basically) with others are doing and why.

      • #3345644

        Selling the sizzle instead of the steak

        by james.chau ·

        In reply to Still Another Vote for Soft Skills

        Dear vozniakd, are you not in a way asking the tech employees to sell the sizzle instead of the steak ? there are only 8 working hours a day and when constructing your Knowledge Builder (KM frontend tool?) these employees are mandated to build the best tool for customers, not to establish the best customer service in the world. Angry customers is a CRM issue and it is best dealt with, at your own peril if you do not, by deploying CRM specialists in dealing with them, customers, even very close customers, should not be allowed to directly temper and dictate with people or processes that build your product; too often customer issues had also been passed along to the tech employees who have no idea how these issues came about in the first place. While tech people are in the limelight for bad writing, I have seen many people who can’t even write if their lives depend on it. I have not come across many presentations which are worth their budget and it is very difficult to be all things to all audiences, it is much worse than a JAD session. I am not justifying or defending mal-professionalism, but please do realize that there are only so many productive working hours and for tech employees to dedicate too much quality time on making great sizzle has an adverse effect on making great steaks.
        BTW, I fully agree with your idea, if I have your kind of big budgets.

        • #3346934

          Indeed sizzling steak tastes better.

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Selling the sizzle instead of the steak

          Concentrate on the hard skills you end up with a coder. Next to useless in today’s environment. Concentrate on the soft skills and you’ll probably get a job, but you’ll be competing with guys who can do both, and two for the price of one is something business types understand very well about IT.
          BA’s are and can be very useful, but they are generally considered a luxury, unless they’ve got QA or PM or CRM skills. At least two out of the four is a must. Last two I worked with did everything but QA, very useful resource for a designer when they are good at it. If they aren’t it’s like a user with built in garble.

        • #3346959

          Sizzle is an Important Part of the Steak

          by vozniakd ·

          In reply to Selling the sizzle instead of the steak

          I still maintain that communication skills are critical to tech people. If you can’t explain your project/product, you can’t get it funded. No funding, no produce/project. I am not suggesting that techs spend all their time writing, but it is an important part of the job. If you are taught at the beginning to do it right, it will take less of your time when you need to develop presentations, or business cases, or any other type of documentation. You said yourself, that you “have not come across many presentations which are worth their budget” perhaps if those people had had a class or two in how to develop presentations, they would have been “worth their budget”.

          I am not saying that only tech people communicate poorly. There are people in many professions that need work on communication skills. But this discussion concerned what skills should be taught to techs in training.

          In every company I have ever worked for, customers were an important part of the business. Remember, customers are not just the end-purchaser of your product. Your team mates, your team lead, your supervisor, your manager or director, and executive management of your company are all customers. Customer service is as important when dealing with internal customers as with external. Dealing with an irate boss is no different than dealing with an irate customer. Maybe your company is different, but where I work, I don’t have a CRM Specialist who can deal with my boss, or my co-workers, or the Business Unit that requested my project/product. I have to deal with them myself. That takes customer service skill, communication skill and an understanding of the business results of my work. I see techs everyday who need these skills and it would be nice if they were taught the non-technical skills they need.

        • #3345250

          No question

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Sizzle is an Important Part of the Steak

          You need both to be a tech, the days where we could sit at the back and twiddle with stuff because it was important for a business to have an IT department as opposed to having one that did something are long gone. You can’t call yourself a tech of any description without some hard skills even if they happen to be top level architecture or something equally abstract.

          The point about the soft skills is except in rare circumstances without them your hard skills won’t matter because you won’t get a job.

          The ability and the confidence to communicate is the first of all soft skills, even if you learn the others, you’ll be severely handicapped trying to apply them, if you duck your head and mumble unintelligibly.

          However that does not mean you send your developers out to do presentations to a 100 customers at a time, or on jollies with their senior management team.

          Communicating in a small group on a known topic, is very different to either of them.

          It’s not just tech people who can’t talk to them, one manager in discussing when a software release would be ready told a customer senior IT exec, the release would get past QA by Monday no matter what. The customer put a very different interpretation on this statement than the manager was hoping.

        • #3345107

          There is perhaps a fallacy in your assumption

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to No question

          I am a tech who did sit at the back and twiddle with stuff because it was very important for a business with nothing more than a hard skill in producing software, through partnering with the business, analyical and managerial staff in identifying and focusing on business needs in executing and enhancing their business operations. And I receive award after award from most of my clients for knowing their business needs without their input, very little communication overhead was needed, and the results of my deliverables often met the business needs dead on (time and budget wise), yet I have nothing more than my english courses (yes, I read the Shakespeares and Miltons), I never took any business communication courses or “soft skills” courses. I found the most difficult part when working with people is not related to skills or knowledge, but from dealing with the workplace politics and assorted prejudices, and this painting of IT tech as a social imbecile is one of the overriding prejudices which manifests itself over and over again among enterprises which do not benefit anyone except the political ones who can offload their failures (sometimes) and blame it upon someone else who, by profession, are not hired to be good politicians or credit takers.

        • #3344887

          Another partial misunderstanding

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to There is perhaps a fallacy in your assumption

          I wouldn’t call what you were doing twiddling. There’s always a place for R&D in a software house. Also there is always a percentage of this effort which turns out to be impractical to implement, for one reason or another. If there weren’t some wrong paths, it probably means there was no research at all.

          99% of by business appreciation has been on the job as well.

          As for social imbecile well I’ll hold my hands up on that one, it’s a fairly prevalent assumption in some circles and I shouldn’t add to it. I’ve met about two guys who’d qualify, but it’s a very small minority. Adapt or die is a given in our industry.

          P.S. Do you get to choose goal of your work, or are these set by the business. For instance I got asked to research the best hardware dongle to buy and use, not the best method of securing the software against piracy.

        • #3344762

          It’s not what you do, it’s what they can steal from you that counts

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Another partial misunderstanding

          ok, life is never fair, if you come right down to it (read John Steinbeck’s Animal Farm). Whatever the doers do, the takers take away, such is the basis for empires or enterprises; the wise is always poor, and the rich is never wise. In many projects, I deliver what the analysts document and the management report up, but these documents and management reports are usually started after the projects have been signed off after the final pre-production testing ! Sort of like Larry King instead of being project analysts or managers you’d say ? Trying to tell that to budding tech newbies is considered a no-no . Well, hail Caesar.
          Most of my clients start setting project goals after I have crystalized the business scenarios thru prototying (process and data mining) to nail down all possible realities. By the time I have figured out every aspect for the project a series of “goals” are then produced by me and then I get briefed of these goals in the formal project meetings. Hey, nobody can be perfect without some kind of cheating, right ?
          By the way, remember what the term modeling really means, far too many folks take the models as reality which usually turn these folks into “emperors without clothes”, and it can worsen when these naked emperors parade themselves in front of foreign dignities and/or other naked emperors.
          How can you teach that to anyone ?

        • #3345113

          Make sure your sizzle matches the steak

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Sizzle is an Important Part of the Steak

          The “Customer” definition is becoming more convoluted. I recall meeting someone who treated everyone like a customer whom I forgot about in less than 2 minutes after meeting him. Sales is becoming part of CRM as evidenced that sales orders are now created in CRM instead of the traditional Sales and Distribution processes. Supply Chain Management is quickly evolving in all directions and specialization is now a norm, not a nice to have anymore. If you investigate how CRM centers around Opportunities, Products, Partners, Organizational Model, and Activities, you will notice their segregation and interaction which rely on each component performing at the peak of their expectations, there is no slack between them. A Opportunities component specializes on discovering opportunities, Products component specialize on the presentment of product and ditto for the other components which form a collaborative platform upon which enterprises fully exploit the marketplace with maximum efficieny and effectiveness along with speed and quality. If you look at a problem tree, the heart of CRM / Customer Interaction Center, you will see a linked list of problem / solution pages which is a documentation of nothing more than the survival guide and action list of what an enterprise needs to do in order to create, maintain and function as a business, internally and externally and in between. Who do you think produce such a problem tree ? yes, the tech people, if you think they are lacking in communication skills, perhaps they are too tired to be “nice” to you after performing such levels of tedious, tiresome, and extremely cut-and-dry tasks which are absolutely essential to the well being of the business, without a single thread of glory or exposure.
          Somehow, I see a certain level of supreme self sacrifice in taking upon technical tasks, enabling the business to reap IT benefits, meeting all expectations, and at the same time explaining and making clear all facets of business objects to all audiences while taking the blame for anything that seems less than being prestine. No wonder fewer and fewer sensible people are avoiding the IT career.
          Just make sure the sizzle you sell matches the steak the tech people are producing in the background and be realistic about what would be nice but could be detrimental to the state of the steak delivered to the customer.

    • #3346042

      Depends On Your Students

      by computer luser ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      What you teach depends mostly on the types of students you have and the class you are teaching. For example, teaching a programming class does not involve learning the business side of IT. You can’t be all things to all people all of the time. Your best bet may be to teach them the communication skills they need to understand the issue brought up by the other posts.

    • #3346004

      The reality of it all

      by ascr689 ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      You should feel sorry for them for what thay are going to experence in the world and give them all A’s

      • #3345637

        IT is equivalent to Engineers of the 1950’s

        by james.chau ·

        In reply to The reality of it all

        Like the engineers of the 1950’s, today’s IT aims to build a better world by enriching machineries and processes. Would you like to see an “A” engineering student becoming a professional who designs faulty engines ?

    • #3345630

      A proposal

      by james.chau ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      It is important to be strong on basic English reading, writing and oral. Statistics, socialogy, art, accounting, algebra and management science would be good courses to take. Java is a must, so are C/C++ and Visual Basic, markup languages, OO and component analysis and design, database, networking, telecommunications, machine architectures, hardware, documentation, system testing. It would be nice to teach some structured methodologies and legacy systems since they are very much operative in our world, Cobol, IMS, DB2, Assembler, RPG, IDMS. Tools such as Telon, MicroFocus Workbench, IEF, Rational Rose, BizTalk, EDI, datawarehouses, should also be taught, better if the students can access these tools and examine the code and data structures.
      Give them a set of code of conduct, legal as well as ethics, let them know what would make them desirable for employment. Regards.

      • #3345651

        Worlds oldest IT student

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to A proposal

        It’d be a good course, but long.

        I’ve been in the business a while and I don’t know a good deal of that lot, course you ommitted a lot of very important things that I do know instead.

        He missed off Fortran and hierarchical databases , what’s he trying to say? Am I out of date or something ?


        Might be having a jargon failure again, what do you mean by structured methodologies ?

        • #3345142

          IT is the fastest growing field in the world – and its wrinkles show it

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Worlds oldest IT student

          LOL, I took Fortran and Pascal in my first year sometime ago. Structured Methodologies (and languages) was the formal course name… If you do a google on names such as Chris Gane, Sarson, James Martin, Ed Yourdan, etc. you will find out what structured methodlogy is about, like E. F. Codd on relational theory (Oracle, SQL Server, DB/2, Informix, etc. are based on Dr. Codd’s relational model), or Donald Knuth on computing theories, or Rumbaugh, Jacobson and Booch on Objects, Thompson, Kernigan and Ritchie on C, Straustrap on C++… the names of these go on and on but u probably won’t care about, or even want to know about them. Sometimes I think people believe IT is something that fell out of the sky sometime ago and no one can really understand this thing.

        • #3344874

          That’s whats

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to IT is the fastest growing field in the world – and its wrinkles show it

          structural methodologies meant to me. But I didn’t want to continue disagreeing with you when we were talking about different things.

          Probably because it’s the way I learnt and a more logical progression I’d treat structural methodologies as a mandatory not a nice and as an underpinning to OO methods. Not so much the what as the why.

          As I’ve said elsewhere I’ve had to go back to non OO code, fortunately for me I didn’t even bump into OO until 1996. I’ve a feeling that someone without the foundation would have a very difficult time going back from OO. Now you can argue that reverting to non OO principles is a dying skill, but OO was an outgrowth of the older stuff and encapsulates it’s ethos if not some of the more outre methods of presentation and analysis us old folks have had to cope with before the pentium magically materialized on our desks.
          The basics of relational database theory is a must as well, as an underpinning to SQL.

          Can’t help feel there is so much to IT that to try and teach it all in a single course is madness. Some large lumps have got to be ommitted dependant on what sort of course it is. The fact that we are all professionals from varying IT disciplines is muddying the water a bit. But I think any course should have a ‘History of IT’ section with possibly a bias towards whatever the eventual discipline is.
          Any general course would amount to an apreciation of technology in business, which is not a bad idea, but would not be something a tech could build their career on. For a business head it would be as useful as a business theory course would be for us. Gives us a common foundation to communicate through.

          Out of the sky, perhaps we ahould suggest to Bill his next O/S is called Meteor
          ‘because it smashes windows to bits’

    • #3345355


      by mrtgrady ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Enough said

      • #3345090

        10,000 people, maybe more…

        by james.chau ·

        In reply to Listening

        People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening ? In some countries, you can have 10,000 people listening and even taking notes of an event (like a lady being beaten), but not a single one lending a hand in helping out on the situation. What we need are helpful actions, not just helpful listeners.

        • #3344843


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to 10,000 people, maybe more…

          You are a bad boy James, though simplifying an issue until it loses any apparent relation to the issue is indeed unhelpful.

        • #3344743

          Just a little LOL when folks start getting sentimental over fundamentals

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Understanding

          Actually several of my client management had conferred worries over and are designing strategies to solve this particular problem of having too many great listeners who just come out short on values through actions, deliverables and commitments, notably from under-performing employees and some failing outsourced ventures. Majority of my system integration work come from requests to right these wrongs.

        • #3344379


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Just a little LOL when folks start getting sentimental over fundamentals

          Not sure they are listeners as such, just people who are too scared to take a decision, and too naive(polite aren’t I) to understand that not making a decision is a decision.

          “I paid attention to everything that was said”

          “And … ” ????

          “Er, Well, What do you think” ?

    • #3345947

      Documentation and Logical Troubleshooting

      by mr. jeff ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      #1-Technical Writing and Documentation:
      My biggest frustration as a IT manager was to get my technical staff to write down their troubleshooting efforts. The best tools any tech can have is a good source of information. Teach your students why it is important and how to build a good Knowledgebase. We only want to troubleshoot issues once! From then on you want to simply refer to the knowledge base.

      #2-Logical Troubleshooting skills:
      How to break an issue down to it’s components and then logically think through and test hardware/software to find the problem. You don’t have to reimage every PC you have problems with! Once you’ve fixed it go to #1.

      • #3345095

        Perhaps being easily frustrated is your own biggest frustration ?

        by james.chau ·

        In reply to Documentation and Logical Troubleshooting

        It appears you have many frustrations as a IT manager, therefore you may be an easily frustrated person who may be lacking the patience and fortitude so vital in being ultimately responsible for dealing with problems ? Besides the obvious and simple problems such as hardware limitation and access authorization errors, I know of few problems which can be troubleshot upon the first encounter. Have you dealt with problems when using your own PC and its applications ?
        A troubleshooting process is quite similar to being a medical doctor diagnosing medical problems, are you familiar with a medical diagnosis process, even with something as simple as coughing ? Like I said, besides simple hardware and access limitations and errors, many problems can be quite complex and dynamic that I challenge you to enforce your discipline of solving them all once and only once and document all these miracles. Even if you are managing a relatively straight forward area such as Windows Server administration, it is not the actual technical problems that cause the majority of the problems but rather the technical requirements and changes required that cause the disruption to the Server availabilty and performance. When it comes to some kind of application services support, you would be dealing with unseen and unpredictable changlings. I would be very happy to be able to observe even one single instance of someone who does establish this kind of documentation and logical troubleshooting process. Try using something along your line of thinking, use the Help key when you use your own Windows PC at work or at home, and it is developed by Microsoft.

        • #3344796

          Geez! Lighten up. I’m really OK.

          by mr. jeff ·

          In reply to Perhaps being easily frustrated is your own biggest frustration ?

          Wow, you’re digging way too deep. My head hurts just reading your reply. I’m not easily frustrated nor do I lack patience or fortitude. As a matter of fact, I don’t really care much about the whole thing. I’ll just let all you other guys figure it all out. I think I’ll just forget typing anything else and go back to my leisure life as a consultant. Thanks for the advice, I’ll pass it on.

        • #3344753

          LOL, it appears I may be the one easily fluttered by problems

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Geez! Lighten up. I’m really OK.

          Sorry pal, but things are seldom what they seem at first, or even when they manifest as recurring problems, especially when there are many possibilities and dynamics. Cheers.

      • #3344853

        Both No and Yes

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Documentation and Logical Troubleshooting

        Teaching troubleshooting yes, however it sounds like your documentation problems are a system failure to me.
        I’ve done years in this environment as a tech and no one had to tell us we needed our knowledgebase, indeed we brooked no interference from management in running it ourselves. It made our jobs easier, one manager was nearly lynched for taking it out of the office, to show a colleague how clever he was.

        If you want a description of how we did it, by all means post back.

        Most of it is commonsense engendered by an irate production operative losing his bonus being stood next to you.

        I’ve noticed, remote support staff don’t have this incentive.

        Seriously what you want can and will be done, but your techs aren’t seeing the benefits of your current system. The only other resistance I can imagine would be job security, resolve calls quicker = more calls per body = less bodies required.
        Not an issue where I was was because we did both development and support so less support meant more interesting work.

        • #3344745

          Message manuals and usage guides

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to Both No and Yes

          Remember message mauals and usage guides were part of project deliverables before the profileration of readme sort of use-it-or-lose-it sort of documentation rampant with the relatively shody kind of docuware nowadays ? Yes, users can now read tons of downloadware .PDF and become a power user of the system or software they use and perhaps add some scripts or even components to do their work, but these folks usually take a few IT courses and become, yes, you guessed it, IT pros themselves. There is no two ways about it, you become either the answer yourself, or you’d become the questions.
          An exception here is when you deploy something like the SAP business software, SAP R/3 or the mySAP solutions are truly amazing in their quality and robustness in functionality and product superiority, system and application and informational messages are amply supplied and contextually excellent, although some of the new ones are still in German. The tools are fantastic and the task organization very well designed with best practices built in. No wonder it is the number one business software in the world.

        • #3344369

          It’s also why it’s the most expensive

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Message manuals and usage guides

          If you have a software contract and the manuals in whatever format are one of the deliverables then people from both sides crawl all over them to make sure they are right. Two readmes and some obvious crap under F1 is dcoumentation, but it’s not costed and the first man over the top in a cost fight.
          I mean a labelled edit box called invoice number and the help is “This is the invoice number”. Waste of time, space, effort, cuticle and photons.

          Like seeing fully commented code

          Int NumberOfInvoices // The number of invoices

          drives me wild that one !

        • #3326124

          Walmart uses mySAP Customer Relationship Management

          by james.chau ·

          In reply to It’s also why it’s the most expensive

          Walmart is one shrewd company that uses the mySAP CRM software to kill off smaller competitors who use less capable software. SAP will never give u such zombie messages, the SAP online help is the envy of the business universe and the SAP software has a bad reputation of only helping the rich get much richer. Sad isn’t it ?

        • #3326114

          Oh It’s good

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Walmart uses mySAP Customer Relationship Management

          alright. Any guy who comes up with a successful sales pitch for expensive quality software saves you money must be a genius. Everybody preaches it, very few practice it.
          It’s getting to the point where I’m actually considering saving up so I can buy the relevant badge and be allowed to practice what I’ve been preaching for years. Certainly my sales skills appear to have been deficient.

          Do you want good or cheap ?
          Oh good and cheap please.
          Good will cost you more now, cheap later.
          Oh well ,cheap it is then.

        • #3325909

          Remember the original request? “What Should I Teach?”

          by mr. jeff ·

          In reply to Both No and Yes

          My ancient past issues are of no importance. I could write a book about it that nobody would read. The request was “What Should I Teach” and I still believe, as many others who’ve contributed to this thread, that Troubleshooting skills (critical/logical thinking) and Documentation are very, VERY high on the list.

          I also believe that both a formal knowledge base system and a non-formal documentation/collaboration plan is necessary to keep technical staff in tune with what is happening and up to date on problem resolution.

        • #3326407

          Did I say it was unimportant ?

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Remember the original request? “What Should I Teach?”

          No. It was so critical to us, we considered it integral to our task.

          The team I was part of took a continually tweaked, and continuously failing manufacturing system and increased it’s availability with a combination of techniques by almost 25% in a year.
          None of that could have been done without an eternal drive for accurate descriptions of the faults, the methods used to correct them and their level of success. Seeing as we were in the best position to do all three and we got the most benefit professionally out of doing them, well I’ll leave the rest to the class.

          What we did was very specific to the technology in place, the methods however were common sense, buy in, ownership and an appreciation from management that there was value in bringing us in to the development / implementation cycle as early as possible.

          If YOU need to keep your technical staff in tune with what’s happening under their noses, then either they are failing you very badly or you’re stuffing things up their noses about the time they get used.

          I’d probably read your book , I might learn something and that’s an opportunity I personally do not like missing.

          P.P.S Aside from a bit of professional banter, where else do you think I have not contributed to this thread ?

    • #3327014

      Other Help on This Subject

      by ludditeatheart ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I also teach at a two year school. Our official degree is an AAS as a Network Technician. I agree with all the posts on teaching “soft” skills and documentation. I try to incorporate these into every class I have, weave it into the technical skills they are learning. Have you ever noticed that most books based on the A+ have a section on customer service? When they learn how to manage an OS they also learn how to manage the process and work with the users to create a workable solution, and so on.

      My students also take a variety of business, communication and other general education classes. All of these help with the thinking and problem solving skills as well.

      But if you want another source of good information contact the ACM at About 4 years ago they finished a project on what should be included in 2 year, 4 year and advanced degrees. They just came out with an update last spring. The nice thing about it is they break IT down into many different areas so you aren’t trying to teach everything in just 2 years.

    • #3326985

      Bilingual fluency–Techeese & Vernacular English

      by notforattribution ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Clearly a communications skill, but certainly one that’s not ‘soft’.

      Teach your students to communicate with their technical and business counterparts with their counterparts preferred vocabulary.

      So often, I’ve heard ‘tecchies’ describe a simple change or adjustment using terms & jargon that baffle or terrify a business user. Important changes aren’t authorized because the client is overwhelmed (and scared to admit it!)

      Similarly, I’ve seen the ubiquitous ‘It’s Broken!’ skillfully translated in a clear, organized, technical plan which ultimately prevented a costly problem.

      And I’ve seen programs resulting from a developer not being clear on the difference between ‘credit’ & ‘debit’; ‘deposit’, ‘withdrawal’ & ‘transfer’, address & mailing address. Sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it? That’s what the client thought, too.

      • #3328596

        Developers and jargon.

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Bilingual fluency–Techeese & Vernacular English

        There is jargon where there’s only one meaning, but you don’t know what it is.

        Much more dangerous
        The jargon where there’s a common meaning in the rest of the world, but not where you are now.

        My absolute favourite, for making you look like a complete spoon. Number.

        You program won’t let me put the order number in.
        What number is it ?

        You said it was a number !
        It is !

        I’m working on a stocking system for blooms at the moment. What obvious mistake could I have made in it?

        In this case a bloom is a large block of steel in the 8 – 12 tonne range. Bigger ones are sometimes called pigs, smaller ones billets, sometimes.

        As well as teaching students to communicate with customers, you should teach them to teach customers to communicate with them.

        A little anecdote similar to the above works, if you can make it specific to their area it’s even better.

    • #3322740

      Skills in Teaching

      by jagatheshram ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      I think as a instructor a sound knowledge on the subject is very important to teach in the class. The doubts raised by students should not be prolonged to the next class. The students should gain confidence in you teaching them. The body language is very important in the classroom because sometimes students see as role model. The ability to study students mind is very important. So, that the way of teaching can be done according to the students in there in the class.

    • #3261387

      help to develop a routine builder in vb6

      by buran_b ·

      In reply to What Should I Teach?

      Hi guys!
      i’m new in this site.
      I have a project which consists of a class routine builder. i’m developing it in vb6.
      Is any one there who can help me?

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