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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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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Selling the sizzle instead of the steak

by james.chau In reply to Still Another Vote for So ...

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.

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Indeed sizzling steak tastes better.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Selling the sizzle instea ...

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.

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